For eight years we've heard from the left and the antiwar libertarians that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Their quips, slogans and insults were all legitimate and patriotic, according to the throats that expelled them. Their radical ideas, no matter how dangerous, were important enough for the Republic to execute. Their conspiracy theories were real. Free speech is the sacred right of all peoples that aren't in power.
Now, that President Obama is in the White House, free speech seems to have lost its glamor on the left. Thousands of liberals across hundreds of conservative message boards flocked to tell the rest of us to get behind the new president and, sometimes using harsher language, to leave the dissent behind. The countless celebrities that backed our new president now pledge to “serve” him and to be better Americans because their man is in office. The double standard is both disgusting and unsurprising.
The reality is there is a line between legitimate dissent and seditious, destructive speech. Of course, both are protected by the First Amendment and no one should ever be prosecuted for their private views (that's something for the left to do. Wilson and FDR did it in spades), but it doesn't change the nature of the division. Its one thing to be against the policies of the president: tax hikes, the war, social programs, etc. One can blather on about taxing the rich or the lazy poor or how we shouldn't be in this country or that. Such speech is welcomed and helps keep all of us reasonable in the political sphere. Yet, there are things people say that are made specifically to not only de-legitimize our country's elected leadership, but to destroy the morale of a large section of the nation and its armed forces. The eight years of “Bush stole the election”, for instance, or the disgusting accusations from Democratic congressmen of heinous torture and massive war crimes committed by our spies, soldiers and private citizens in Iraq and Afghanistan without any evidence to back it up. That speech is morally wrong, most of all in a time of war against an covert enemy. Again, this does not mean it shouldn't be protected speech, but one can have full free speech while being seditious and immoral as well.
The issue for conservatives is how are we to dissent against a president we may not like in any which way. There is already a faction, backed by the sketchy evidence that President Obama may not be a natural born citizen, that has taken upon itself to declare him illegitimate. This is the wrong way to go. First off, there is no evidence of Obama's illegitimacy other than his mismanagement of publicizing his birth certificate. Secondly, when has it been a core value of patriotic conservatives to actively try to destroy the office of the President? Is it in the best interests of the nation to spread rumors about how the nation voted in an impostor that had does illegal things to gain the presidency? Doesn't it sound like the exact same arguments the left had when Bush won the 2000 election? Are we so partisan?
In no way am I saying dissent against Obama should be stifled. Not in the least. What I am saying is that we should not fall to the scum floor that liberals have been laying on since Bush took office. We conservatives pride ourselves on our patriotism and our reason. What we say in criticism of the president should reflect that pride. We should go after his economic ideas, his weakening of our defenses with the end to harsh interrogation, his past radicalism and the similarities he has to the old, fascistic Progressive movement. Going after ghosts of illegitimacy just leaves the door open for the liberals, the leftists and the new Progressives to malign us with their smug airs of intellectualism.
“My country, right or wrong” isn't something that changes with the president.
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