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Jayne Lyn Stahl Headshot

Domestic Terrorism or Dissent?

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During the vice presidential debate, Sarah Palin couldn't resist showing off her knowledge of a new term: "domestic terrorist" any more than she could refrain from slapping that term onto those Barack Obama is said to have known 40 years ago.

Well, we have breaking news for Governor Palin, and any other candidate for elected office, now and in future. Those of us who were at Kent State, and others, like myself, who protested the war in Vietnam at universities in Buffalo, who staged sit-ins at administration buildings that included, but were not limited to, the likes of current Nobel Laureates like J.M. Coetzee, didn't think of ourselves as "domestic terrorists," but as citizens exercizing our constitutional right to dissent, a right which police in Maryland recently put on life supports when it classified more than 50 members of nonviolent protest groups as "terrorists" while listing not just their names, but all their personal data, into state and federal databanks.

As The Washington Post reported, a police superintendent, Terrence B. Sheridan, exposed the covert military action which placed not just those opposing the war in Iraq, but those opposing capital punishment, under surveillance from 2005 through 2006. Mr. Sheridan told the Senate that those 50 odd names have no place in Maryland police databases: "It's as simple as that."

Pity Joe McCarthy because nobody seems to have told him he's dead, or maybe he has better things to do than rest in peace, and is out haunting not just Maryland, but the US Patriot gangbangers who want to put dissent on perpetual hold.

Apartheid isn't just about race. Ideas can be subdued, too. Likewise, free speech isn't rocket science, but someone will have to explain that both to Ms. Palin and her sidekick, Mr. McCain, who by merely evoking the term "domestic terrorist" intend to draw blood more than votes.

Indeed, in what historians may someday look upon as a last ditch act of desperation, Ms. Palin's labelling of now professor, but one-time Weather Underground radical, Bill Ayers, as a "domestic terrorist" says a whole lot more about her worldview than his.

We simply cannot let a term like "domestic terrorist" slip through the cracks unnoticed, and unchallenged, especially from one whose intent is to occupy the Oval Office.

When Senator Obama becomes our next President, we must insist that, along with Congress, he acts to reverse this dangerous trend, as well as euthanizes that pernicious piece of legislation, the USA Patriot Act, which will someday be known as the great purge of the U.S. Constitution