Lumping Women in Black together with al-Qaida requires just a minor addition to the vocabulary: they have been jointly classified as "anti-American". This term, as used by everyone from the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and the Daily Mail to Tony Blair and several writers on these pages, applies not only to those who hate Americans, but also to those who have challenged US foreign and defence objectives. Implicit in this denunciation is a demand for uncritical support, for a love of government more consonant with the codes of tsarist Russia than with the ideals upon which the United States was founded.
Wait for the House Committee on Anti-American Activities to be convened any day now...
If we are to preserve the progress, pluralism, tolerance and freedom which President Bush claims to be defending, then we must question everything we see and hear. Though we know that governments lie to us in wartime, most people seem to believe that this universal rule applies to every conflict except the current one. Many of those who now accept that babies were not thrown out of incubators in Kuwait, and that the Belgrano was fleeing when it was hit, are also prepared to believe everything we are being told about Afghanistan and terrorism in the US.
There are plenty of reasons to be sceptical. The magical appearance of the terrorists' luggage, passports and flight manual looks rather too good to be true. The dossier of "evidence" purporting to establish Bin Laden's guilt consists largely of supposition and conjecture. The ration packs being dropped on Afghanistan have no conceivable purpose other than to create the false impression that starving people are being fed. Even the anthrax scare looks suspiciously convenient. Just as the hawks in Washington were losing the public argument about extending the war to other countries, journalists start receiving envelopes full of bacteria, which might as well have been labelled "a gift from Iraq". This could indeed be the work of terrorists, who may have their own reasons for widening the conflict, but there are plenty of other ruthless operators who would benefit from a shift in public opinion.
(From The Guardian (who else?))