Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Congressman Duncan Hunter’s Message to Universities, “Be Patriotic, or Else!”


BY FRANK J. RANELLI


Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter brazenly attacks the world of academia, insistent on legislating an Orwellian doctrine and desires to return McCarthyism and blind nationalism to governing by censoring the thoughts of the American people.


Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a textbook authoritarian and uncritical sycophant for the Bush administration, has been consistently aiding rabid Republicans in reaching new party nadirs. Now we can add xenophobic, blind nationalist, and adversary to dissent to his growing and disturbing resume of Orwellian penchants.

Hunter has torn a page out of Orwell’s, 1984, and Bradbury’s, Fahrenheit 451, and pasted them neatly and expediently together. The Congressman has introduced legislation, H.R. 3675, with the expressed stated purpose to, “prohibit Federal grants to or contracts with Columbia University.” Mr. Hunter believes quite vehemently, by virtue of his pending bill, that by cutting off all federal funding to Columbia University will, “restore patriotism to university campuses.”

The motivation behind this brazen act of McCarthyism is self-evident. Congressman Duncan Hunter disagrees with Columbia University’s invitation that allowed the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to speak to its students. The implications behind such an anti-democratic proposed law -- that we should deny disparate views from being heard, by way of banning unfettered access to those a few may disagree with -- are preposterous and lethal to independent thought. Such a bill is also purely antithetical to the very foundations of the free and open society we rightly enjoy.

Moreover, Hunter’s overt attempt at stemming dissent, using euphemistic vernacular such as “restore patriotism” more than tidily falls under the umbrella of fascist ideologies that aim to suppress academia and critical-thought. Independent judgment, as evident by Mr. Hunter’s proposed edict, is independent of, and irreconcilable with, a person or establishment’s patriotism. Hunter’s delusional and quite obtuse observation is that one’s love of their country must include the love of their government and its current policies.

This is more than repudiation by Congressman Hunter of the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; this is an assault on all dissension by proxy of right-wing, American chauvinism. Hunter’s deceptive and veiled syntax -- which feebly attempts to hide the insidious nature of such a proposal -- fails to prevent the obvious conclusion that this is an effort at unadulterated censorship via threats of cutting off subsidy to schools.

The paranoia in Hunter’s bill is palpable. The Orwellian overtones are conspicuous. There is more than a minor allusion to Bradbury’s book-burning society that believes ignorance and compliance are compulsory to stability. Nuances are to be shunned, vagaries are shirked, and violators of American reverence are to be punished.

Hunter’s perverse veneration -- that by law only people and ideas by which the U.S. government consents is acceptable -- is a twisted, conflated effort of draconian law and totalitarian governing. Using dissembling language that cloaks the true intent, Hunter ineptly tries to define “patriotism” as utter loyalty to a Big Brother government.

Wholly advocating derailment of enlightenment through diverse educational experiences, the Congressman from California, in an act of sad irony, invokes the USA Patriot Act to make his case for denying universities federal funding. Under Section 3(a) of his Restore Patriotism to University Campuses Act, Hunter draws together in a loose, but covert fashion that by allowing Ahmadinejad to speak to college students is, “Permitting State Terrorist Access to Campuses.”

This type of legislative, theatrical dogma plays on the “giving aid and comfort to the enemy” Bush theme. One could logically conclude that Hunter’s next legislative act includes a draft to name all those present during Ahmadinejad’s speech are to be labeled as “enemy combatants.”

This is more than a disingenuous and dangerous attempt to monopolize the truth and to sequester informed debate. Hunter’s unscrupulous act of accusing anyone who does not agree with the Congressman as disloyal is blatant censorship. The bill Hunter is proposing more than smacks of the “Red Scare”, Joe McCarthy era. Instead, Hunter has reawakened McCarthyism and has simply replaced the fear of Communism with Terrorism as the scapegoat enemy of consternation.

In Duncan Hunter’s illusionary view, touchstones of American democracy, such as freedom of speech, the right to assemble, and even liberty itself, must take a back seat to unwavering obedience to the state and marshal in hyper-nationalism. Anyone who dares to fall out of line, ceases to goose-step, or questions Big Brother are undesirable seditious contemptibles, who must suffer the wrath of an autocratic and unforgiving government.

Fortunately, the House referred this loathsome bill to the Committee on Education and Labor, where it will likely die an ignoble death. Mr. Hunter has every right to his opinion, and every American has the right to dissent from that opinion. However, Congressman Hunter, in his single quest for a complacent and Orwellian society, would be wise to ponder the notion that no entity or person has a patent on patriotism.


Correspondent Lindsay D. Riggs contributed to this article.

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Source: H.R. 3675: To prohibit Federal grants to or contracts with Columbia University, http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-3675

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