Some Call It Treason
By Matthew Rothschild

October 23, 2002

New Jersey State Senator James Cafiero upped the political rhetoric to a whole new level when, on October 17, he introduced a resolution urging Attorney General John Ashcroft to indict two Congresspeople who went to Iraq on charges of treason.

The traitors, according to Cafiero, are Representative Jim McDermott, Democrat of Washington, and Representative David Bonior, Democrat of Michigan.

Cafiero, the Republican whip in the Jersey state house, stated in his resolution: "The public comments critical of the policies and President of the United States made by United States Representatives Jim McDermott and David Bonior during a recent trip to Baghdad constitute an act of treason against the United States. . . .

[Their comments] gave aid and comfort to an enemy of the United States."

McDermott and Bonior were in Iraq at the end of September and in early October. They were seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict and were pleading for the United States to agree to let the U.N. inspectors return to work right away.

On ABC's "This Week" program of September 29, McDermott said that Bush was "trying to provoke a war." He also said that the Untied States should "take the Iraqis at their face value," and--most controversially--"I think the President would mislead the American people."

McDermott and Bonior immediately came under fire. George Will called them Saddam's "American collaborators" and "useful idiots." Senator John McCain slammed them, and Representative Sam Johnson, Republican of Texas, said, "You cannot cavort around with the enemy and be a good American."

Upon returning to the United States, McDermott tried to do some damage control. "I perhaps overstated my case," he said.

But Cafiero was not content to leave the controversy alone. "These two Congressmen should have known better than to use their position as elected officials to fan the flames of an already volatile situation by questioning the wisdom of U.S. foreign policy while standing on Iraqi soil."

Spokespersons for both Representatives declined to comment on Cafiero's legislation.

But early on in the controversy, McDermott did tell Paula Zahn of CNN, "Dissent is an American right, and without it, it's not a democracy."

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.


It's finally setting in: Trump is Trump and he’s not going to change because of winning the nomination.

The new head of the Environmental Protection has a history of suing the agency for trying to do its job.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project