Being American doesn't mean blind faith

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, July 12, 2004

In response to your letter, "That was no American," I feel that you deserve an explanation, if brief, as to why I and many people I know would disagree with your view of America. Though I recognize how you would find that man's behavior as distasteful, I think that you misunderstand the place of freedom of speech in America. The thing that greatly defines a democracy is the idea of public dissent.

I feel I have to remind you that our country was not founded on silent complacency but on public discourse. The founding fathers disagreed with the way their leaders treated them and they did something about it, and when they finally did create this country they made sure that everyone had the right to disagree without fear of retaliation or repression. With that right comes your right not to listen to any dissenting opinions your fellow Americans want to present to you. We were given that right on the fourth of July, 1776 in a document that was the ultimate form of dissent. There is no fundamental of Americanism that says that we follow our leaders without question. I find your suggestion that America would be better off without any dissenters misguided and a potential danger to the very fabric of the American society you love so much. I was raised with the knowledge that freedom of speech is vital to the health of our nation, and that without it our democracy cannot survive.

Michael Partlow

Juneau



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