It's depressing to see how common attacks on dissent have become in post-9/11 politics.
Media Matters documents the latest salvo from Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly:
The anti-American press both here and in Europe is actually helping the terrorists by diminishing their threat. "Talking Points" urges you to begin holding people accountable for their position on the terror war. Walk away from media that excuses or sanitizes these brutal acts. USA is not the problem in this world. The terrorists are. And if you don't agree with that, you are helping killers like [Abu Musab] al-Zarqawi. Enough's enough. London should be the last straw.
O'Reilly's guest, Steve Emerson, said during the same show that, "in certain respects, BBC almost operates as a foreign registered agent of Hezbollah and some of the other jihadist groups."
Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting points out the use of similar language from another Fox News host, Sean Hannity, during an interview with former senator Slade Gorton:
You know, one of the thing, the criticisms I have had of the left in this country, Senator, I have felt at almost every step of the way from the very beginning they have often undermined the president's war on terror. And they have accused him of targeting civilians for assassination, accused him of starting a war for political gain, accusing him of being responsible for torture policies when no such thing came true.
It seems like they've always looked to politicize it, which has hurt our effort to unite and combat this.
This sort of language has become so common, in fact, since 9/11 that its premises are starting to be taken for granted. For instance, MSNBC's Amy Robach recently suggested that protestors at a speech by President Bush were unpatriotic, saying that "There were a couple of protesters we heard with a few signs, but for the most part, looks like a very patriotic crowd there."
What's worse is that this approach is increasingly being copied, rather than denounced, by Democrats. Via James Taranto, here's Michigan's Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm, using the term "treason" to attack a Republican who criticized her policies:
An angry Gov. Jennifer Granholm said freshman Rep. Rick Baxter, R-Hanover, should be removed from office for co-writing a "treasonous" column trashing Michigan in the Wall Street Journal on the state's tax and business climate.
Baxter, vice chairman of the House Commerce Committee, and Hillsdale College professor and conservative activist Gary Wolfram wrote a Thursday opinion page column criticizing Granholm's tax reform and economic stimulus proposals pending in the Legislature.
..."When you are so engaged in building up your political party in such a way that you damage the state, that to me, that representative should be removed from office," said Granholm, a Democrat up for re-election next year.
...Granholm asserted that Wolfram was "hired by the insurance industry to oppose our reform of the Single Business Tax." She called the column a "kind of effort (that) is treasonous for the state of Michigan, frankly."
The principle to speak freely about political disagreements is sacred in a democracy. How can we forget that given what is going on in Iraq and the Middle East right now?
Update 7/13: Matthew Yglesias links to this post on Tapped, but says that I "missed the best of the lot" -- a Michael Ledeen column calling for greater censorship of "radical Muslim religious indoctrination":
The absolutist interpretation of the First Amendment -- free speech extends even to license -- stops us from taking proper steps to shut down the terror factories. Justice Holmes taught us that the Constitution is not a suicide pact, and that no one has the right to scream "fire" in a crowded theater. London taught us that these principles require vigorous application.
I'm not sure this is an attack on dissent per se in the same sense as I describe above, but it's certainly relevant. Also, I neglected to link to my big Spinsanity column from Sept. 2004 on attacks on dissent since 9/11. That's the big picture that I'm referring to above.