Barry, there’s a troubling pattern developing as the White House and Congressional leadership embark on a campaign to silence their critics – especially when it comes to concerns about health care.
Example One: Last week, in an official White House release from Macon Phillips, the White House Director of New Media, the White House launched what can only be described as a citizen reporting initiative on the White House website. Phillips claimed that “[t]here is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there” both on the web and floating around in chain emails. He stated that “[s]ince we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The White House is asking Americans to report on those Americans who disagree with the President’s policy choices on health care. The White House is also implying that you should think twice before sending an email disagreeing with the President, since it might end up being forwarded to them. The White House email address says it all – let’s ‘flag’ those who disagree with us.
What’s worse, this turns the White House into some sort of self-appointed ‘speech police’ – urging Americans to monitor and report those who engage in ‘fishy’ speech. What will the Obama Administration do with those names? Who will be ‘flagged’ next? It’s not only wrong, it directly contradicts President Obama’s repeated promise to conduct a more open and transparent government. We have sent a letter to President Obama urging him to rescind this initiative.
Even the ACLU expressed concern about this program saying that it is a “bad idea that could send a troublesome message.”
Example Two: Does free speech only apply to the Congressional leadership who insist on criticizing the critics – instead of addressing the real concerns about health care?
In an opinion editorial in USA Today, House Speaker Pelosi and House Majority Leader Hoyer label those who are protesting against President Obama’s policies as ‘un-American.’
And Senate Majority Leader Reid has accused those speaking out against health care policies of trying to ‘sabotage’ the democratic process.
Example Three: Members of Congress don’t want to take the heat for health care policies that most Americans reject. In Georgia, Congressman David Scott
berated one of his own constituents at a town hall meeting – shouting down a medical doctor who had concerns about the policies and wanted to know why Congressman Scott supported them.
Barry, I do not support the violence and threats that sadly have become part of this debate. Some clearly have crossed the line. But, come on, there’s a disturbing pattern developing here – from the White House to Congressional leadership – pulling out the stops to intimidate – and silence – those who may disagree with President Obama and his policies.
Our country was founded on a belief in the necessity of free and open discourse on the important policies and political issues of our day. Let Americans speak out – without the fear of being ‘flagged’ by the White House for making ‘fishy’ comments or called ‘un-American’ because they have strong opinions.
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