Traitor, prophet or just overreacting? Readers weigh in on Gregory Dicum's "This Is Not America."

Published March 26, 2003 11:24PM (EST)

[Read "This Is Not America."]

Whoa -- relax! I don't like John Ashcroft either, but I'm nowhere near packing my bags.

Our identities -- at least our demographic/financial ones -- have been exploited by marketers for years now. Safeway knows more about what I'm going to buy tomorrow than I do.

I'm more afraid of something like the scenes in "Minority Report" where Tom Cruise is perpetually bombarded by ads; I'm not too worried about storm troopers knocking down my door. As far as I know, the Constitution doesn't protect me from marketing.

Now that I think of it, maybe I will be packing my bags.

-- Eric Hall

The whiny article by Gregory Dicum is really offensive. Born in Oregon with recent immigrant grandparents on side and ancestry that goes back to Native Americans and 300-year-old European stock on the other, I'm well aware that the U.S. has not always been a land of concrete and Medicare.

Pioneers and Indians alike had to work hard to survive, and there was a lot of fighting and bloodshed between all groups. Complaining that his ancestors fled various countries instead of staying to fight or suffer like those left behind and then misrepresenting the Chicago nightclub in a manipulative manner to further his thesis are both repulsive. He compares the panic caused by security guards using pepper spray in a nightclub and the reaction of some patrons who thought bin Laden was attacking, with a jealous neighbor blocking his great-uncle's tunnel. That goes beyond grasping at straws to inventing straws.

Does he think that it is the duty of others to stand up and create a comfortable society for him to live in? If something's wrong, stand up and be counted for what's right. We may even have to put ourselves at risk, like others before us. Perhaps it's time for Dicum to realize he may not always have the luxury of finding someplace where everyone else has already done the work for him.

Thoroughly disgusted,

-- Kathy S. Brown

America is what we make it. Running away won't solve any problems.

One of the reasons Mr. Dicum's relatives (and many others) had to flee their countries is that those countries lacked a civil society and political structure for ordinary citizens to make a difference. That ain't the case in America.

There will be another election in two years. Mr. Dicum is doing his part now by speaking out about the things that trouble him.

No matter how bad the current government or mood of the people, those who value civil liberties have every opportunity to change those things. Dissent can be honorable. Running away is the coward's way out.

I write this letter as a supporter of "regime change," but also as one who values free expression. In fact, I hope Iraq will soon join the United States (and the countries from which Mr. Dicum's relatives fled) in the democratic family of nations.

-- D. Deree

Relax, Dicum. Dubya is not going to be reelected. A Democratic regime will also be a democratic administration. Vote for the Dems and all this undemocratic crap will be repealed.

The Republicans are always their own worse enemies. Whenever they get power, they always go overboard and piss the ordinary people off.

Why can't people remember eight years at a time how "pig at the trough" greedy and insensitive to the needs of the electorate the GOP is? It's a question for the ages.

-- Gorden Russell

How odd it was to see Mr. Dicum's article when I went back to Salon (my homepage) after looking at sites that have info about relocating to Europe and elsewhere. I was looking at Germany. But I congratulate him for picking up on something that has been on my mind and the minds of many of my young peers. The option to relocate becomes especially attractive when despite all the protests and antiwar activity that I see in my daily life in Boston, polls and the media would have it seem like everyone is just hunky-dory with the war.

Just last week, after coming home from an extremely large protest, I watched the news coverage of it. After showing helicopter shots of thousands in the streets, the reporter decided to interview the one pro-war individual she found amid the crowd of dissenters. In the past I would have dismissed such a journalistic anomaly and blamed it on lefty paranoia, but in the new America that Mr. Dicum speaks of, I find it utterly chilling, real and echoed across the airwaves. Maybe the last minute to relocate that Mr. Dicum refers to could be Bush's reelection, an event that continually seems more possible when the media and the public seem to be feeding off each other.

When would he and others feel that it would be time to leave? When/if PATRIOT Act II passes? When abortions are suddenly illegal again? When North Korea is invaded?

-- James Roehrig

You poor fool, Gregory. Your ancestors were escaping; you would only be abandoning. You shame them by putting your own perceived plight alongside theirs. Only a man who has never known suffering and tyranny could write such an article.

-- Brad Smissen

Interesting ... I am coming more and more to believe that we do not live in special times. This is important. If we live in "special" times, then "special" responses are always in order. If we are in "special" danger, then we must be willing to especially curtail certain rights (the rights of speech, assembly, etc., that ensured our freedom and prosperity).

It amazes me how many students of history never apply historical norms to their current situation. It is by now obvious to say that we are not at the "end of history." It is less obvious, but very much true, that the only reason we have enjoyed the fruits of a prosperous, open society is a combination of the rule of law and a respect of individual rights. Others have been here before and failed; I fear, too, that we are on that road.

Legitimacy and legality are important, if you stand up for them or have the sense to find them elsewhere.

-- Danielle Fournier

By Salon Staff

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