We Are At War!

“We are again locked in war,” says Roger Bell. “Locked in an ideological battle, locked in the language — very exaggerated language — of ideological conflict.”

Roger Bell, Professor of International Studies at the University of New South Wales, isn’t surprised that the debates and contexts of McCarthyism have resurfaced.

[These debates are] particularly about free speech, and in a broader sense also about — in the American case — about Americanism, and un-American activities, about traitors within, about evil enemies etc.

So when Bush speaks in my view in very exaggerated terms, about the evil of Islam, or the evil of terrorism, he, as it were, takes the political rhetoric to another level. And when acts such as the Patriot Act are invoked domestically to repress or to limit freedom of expression at home, then it’s to be expected that many of those traditional debates in a democratic society will re-surface.

Part of a much longer conversation in ABC Radio National program The Media Report last week. Worth a listen. (transcript) (podcast)

One Reply to “We Are At War!”

  1. I remain unconvinced by the “suppression of dissent” meme, and I suspect it’s invoked by those who want to glamorise themselves as dangerous, sexy samizdatniks — and sell a shitload of product into the bargain.

    The shelves of major chain bookshops like Borders are full of glossy pro-dictator screeds by old frauds like Chomsky and Pilger, while Michael Moore’s books and DVDs are piled high in that hotbed of revolution, K-Mart.

    Anti-war activists continue to occupy the busiest shopping thoroughfare in Melbourne, and plaster their posters over any vertical surface in the city. As yet, they have not been tear-gassed and clubbed into submission by the Praetorian Guard of capitalism (aka “the police”).

    Satirical TV is still alive (if not exactly well, viz. The Glass House), and anti-American bias remains hardwired into the Fairfax press.

    Within 30 seconds anyone can find “underground” sites like Indymedia, MoveOn or Daily Kos on the WWW, complete with ads.

    “New McCarthyism”? I think not.

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