With us or against us

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In the October 14, 2001, Boulder Daily Camera, William Raspberry contemplates the phrase "with us or against us"[1]

Raspberry says that, after hearing President George W. Bush tell Congress that "Every nation in every region now has a decision to make ... Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists," he thought to himself, "Are those really the only possibilities? Can't there be some nation, in some region, that dislikes both terrorism and America -- or that is indifferent both to the United States and to those behind the September 11, 2001 massacre?"

He adds, "In secular usage, though, the point seems to be that thought breeds irresolution. Don't tell me you are serious about fighting crime if you're not willing to suspend -- just for a while -- the Bill of Rights. Don't pretend you really oppose terrorism if you're entertaining second thoughts about the carpet-bombing calculated to render the Taliban vulnerable to its Afghan enemies."

In conclusion, Raspberry says "But if our official policy seems to be of two minds, there are those who won't allow the same option for rank and file Americans. If you wonder if war is the right answer to international terrorism, if you suggest that it may be time to rethink elements of our foreign policy, if you question whether America has always been above reproach in its international dealings, wanting nothing for itself, you'll be told to get with the program. Sometimes with an implied 'or else.'

"The people who insist on a suspension of thought aren't necessarily bad people. Their nightmare is of the growing influence of 'peace' advocates -- appeasers, in their lexicon -- who are capable of understanding why terrorism thrives. My nightmare is of American action so brutal and arrogant and indiscriminate that it creates their nightmare."

"It's been often remarked that George W. Bush uses coded language to appeal to a religious constituency. For example, Bush's statement that 'Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists' is a direct borrowing from the words of Jesus as reported in Luke 11:23: 'He that is not with me is against me.'" Lambert, February 18, 2004.

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