What’s Treason One Day is Patriotism the Next

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This is a weird world. A good share of the mail that Liberty has lately received has excoriated us either for being absurdly pro-war or for being unpatriotic in opposing the anti-terrorist campaign. Liberty, of course, has published a variety of opinions, ranging from enthusiastic support for war against Muslim terrorists to outright pacifism in response to their attacks. But you’d never get a clue of this from the letter-writers. Those who favor a broad war on terrorism seem only to have read the commentaries we’ve published that warn against too wide a war; those who oppose a broad war against terrorism seem only to have read the commentaries calling for an aggressive war against Muslim terrorism.

Letters written to me personally have been weird, too. In the November Liberty, I told how I’d spent Sept.
11 going about my business normally, until the evening, when I caught up on the news about the attack and
committed my thoughts to paper. The most notable of my thoughts were the ideas that (a) reacting the way most Americans reacted – by abandoning their daily routine, watching television reports of the same news over and over, wallowing in anger and hate – was to do exactly what the terrorists wanted; and (b)

Americans in general were simply overreacting to the events – I cited episodes like the closing down of the state-owned ferry system in the Puget Sound – and would likely continue to overreact.

I received several letters denouncing me as unpatriotic for failing to spend my entire day in front of my television, as the writers had, and for failing to get madder and madder at Osama bin Laden and Muslims all day – or all month, for that matter.

As I write these words, I have the overnight news on the television in the background and several times I have noticed a public service announcement from the Ad Council hectoring me to be a patriotic hero by refusing to change my daily routine in response to terrorism. I wonder: Is the Ad Council being bombarded with letters denouncing it and its advertising as unpatriotic

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