THOLOS OF ATHENA

Monday, May 08, 2006

SENATOR KERRY'S SPEECH IN IOWA IS IMPRESSIVE

RAW STORY has the full transcript. Here are some excerpts:
"I have come here today to reaffirm that it was right to dissent in 1971 from a war that was wrong. And to affirm that it is both a right and an obligation for Americans today to disagree with a President who is wrong, a policy that is wrong, and a war in Iraq that weakens the nation."

"The lesson here is not that some of us were right about Vietnam, and some of us were wrong. The lesson is that true patriots must defend the right of dissent, and hear the voices of dissenters, especially now, when our leaders have committed us to a pre-emptive "war of choice" that does not involve the defense of our people or our territory against aggressors. The patriotic obligation to speak out becomes even more urgent when politicians refuse to debate their policies or disclose the facts. And even more urgent when they seek, perversely, to use their own military blunders to deflect opposition and answer their own failures with more of the same. Presidents and politicians may worry about losing face, or votes, or legacy; it is time to think about young Americans and innocent civilians who are losing their lives."

"Dissenters are not always right, but it is always a warning sign when they are accused of unpatriotic sentiments by politicians seeking a safe harbor from debate, from accountability, or from the simple truth."

"And here in Iowa we must insist again that fidelity, honor, and love of country demand untrammeled debate and open dissent. At no time is that truer than in the midst of a war rooted in deceit and justified by continuing deception."

"...America has always been stronger when we have not only proclaimed free speech, but listened to it. Yes, in every war, there have been those who demand suppression and silencing. And although no one is being jailed today for speaking out against the war in Iraq, the spirit of intolerance for dissent has risen steadily, and the habit of labeling dissenters as unpatriotic has become the common currency of the politicians currently running our country.

"Dismissing dissent is not only wrong, but dangerous when America's leadership is unwilling to admit mistakes, unwilling to engage in honest discussion, and unwilling to hold itself accountable for the consequences of decisions made without genuine disclosure, or genuine debate. As Thomas Jefferson said, "dissent is the highest form of patriotism."

"Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America's leaders knew our strategy would not work. It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion. We want democracy in Iraq, but Iraqis must want it as much as we do. Our valiant soldiers can't bring democracy to Iraq if Iraq's leaders are unwilling themselves to make the compromises that democracy requires."

"So now, as in 1971, we are engaged in another fight to live the truth and make our own government accountable. This is another moment when American patriotism demands more dissent and less complacency in the face of bland assurances from those in power."

"We must insist now that patriotism does not belong to those who defend a President's position—it belongs to those who defend their country. Patriotism is not love of power; it is love of country. And sometimes loving your country demands you must tell the truth to power. This is one of those times."

"When I testified thirty five years ago, I asked the question: 'where are the leaders of our country?"

"It's time we ask that question again – and time we say clearly it's not just in Iraq but on every issue where Washington has either failed to lead – or misled America in the wrong direction."

"Rarely has there been a moment more urgent for all Americans to step up and define our country again."

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