The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, February 06, 2003  

The Constitution According to the New York Sun

It’s amazing what passes for analysis at the New York Sun, Gotham’s newest right-wing daily and a newspaper that has opened its pages to numerous pundits of varying ideology, including David Frum, Michael Kinsley, Jack Newfield, Andrew Sullivan, and James Taranto.

In a bizarre display of contempt for democracy the Sun’s editors today speak with unusual vehemence in favor of squashing dissent and restricting civil liberties, all in the cause of labeling any opponent of U.S. military policy a traitor worthy of immediate arrest.

Herewith are a few excerpts from today’s particularly revolting editorial, “Comfort and the Protesters”:

Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly are doing the people of New York and the people of Iraq a great service by delaying and obstructing the anti-war protest planned for February 15. The longer they delay in granting the protesters a permit, the less time the organizers have to get their turnout organized, and the smaller the crowd is likely to be. And we wouldn’t want to overstate the matter, but, at some level, the smaller the crowd, the more likely that President Bush will proceed with his plans to liberate Iraq. And the more likely, in that case, that the Iraqi people will be freed and the citizens of New York will be rescued from the threat of an Iraqi-aided terrorist attack. . . .

The protesters probably do have a claim under the right to free speech. Never mind that it’s not the speech that the city is objecting to -- it’s the marching in the streets, blocking traffic, and requiring massive police protection.

So long as the protesters are invoking the Constitution, they might have a look at Article III. That says, “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.”

There can be no question at this point that Saddam Hussein is an enemy of America. . . .

And there is no reason to doubt that the “anti-war” protesters -- we prefer to call them protesters against freeing Iraq -- are giving, at the very least, comfort to Saddam Hussein. . . .

So the New York City police could do worse, in the end, than to allow the protest and send two witnesses along for each participant, with an eye toward preserving at least the possibility of an eventual treason prosecution. Thus fully respecting not just some, but all of the constitutional principles at stake.

To those concerned about civil liberties, we’d cite the pragmatic argument made last night by, of all people, the New York Times’s three-time Pulitzer-Prize winning foreign affairs columnist, Thos. [sic] Friedman. “I believe we are one more 9/11 away from the end of the open society,” Mr. Friedman told an American Jewish Committee dinner honoring the chief executive of the New York Times Company, Russell Lewis. His point was that if terrorists strike again at America and kill large numbers of Americans, the pressure to curb civil liberties and civil rights will be “enormous and unstoppable.” What we took from that was that the more successful the protesters are in making their case in New York, the less chance they’ll have the precious constitutional freedom to protest here the next time around.

I look forward to seeing the above-mentioned liberals and right-wingers disavow themselves from this trash and the paper that printed it.

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