We have the right to disagree, so we do | NevadaAppeal.com

We have the right to disagree, so we do

Guy W. Farmer

You’d be surprised by what you can learn in the “Forum” section of the Nevada Appeal’s Internet website at http://www.tahoe.com. For example, I learned last week that U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and the FBI have concocted Project Megiddo, a bizarre plot to harass and intimidate fundamentalist Christians throughout the country. (And no, I’m not making this up).

It all started early last month with a letter to the Appeal from serial letter-writer Alan Edwards, who warned that “Project Megiddo lists as potential domestic terrorists … Christians who believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.” Edwards added that “it is obvious to all but the brain-dead that the FBI is a rogue agency controlled by subversives who are destroying America.” Wow! I thought, this could be serious.

In a follow up message to the Forum, someone named Jean – I’m using first names only from now on in order to protect the innocent, and the guilty – clarified Edwards’ warning by quoting from a press release issued by the Free Congress Foundation, whatever that is.

According to Jean and the mysterious Foundation, “Project Megiddo is a cooperative effort between the FBI and state and local law enforcement officials that warns of the dangers being presented by certain fanatical Christian groups whose objective it is to hasten the Second Coming of Christ.” And furthermore, Janet Reno allegedly identified religious people as “dangerous.” It should be noted here that Ms. Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh are barely on speaking terms these days.

Juanita weighed-in next. “What is of more concern are (sic) the vast fluoridated group that can’t even comprehend what is happening to them…,” she wrote. Jean agreed, stating that “Christians are becoming the socially accepted group to hate.” When Greg raised some valid questions about Project Megiddo, Richard pronounced him to be “brain-dead.”

This is what passes for dialogue in the Appeal Forum, but it gets better. “I don’t think our government, under the excuse of (combating) terrorism, has a right to lump all Christians into terrorists because of their belief in the Bible,” Jean declared. She urged everyone to rally behind congressional leaders Dan Burton, R-Ind., and Bob Barr, R-Ga., to derail Project Megiddo and recommended that we read “Waco, A New Revelation,” by discredited ex-FBI agent Frederick Whitehurst.

“I don’t buy into your gloom-and-doom theories that the government is our enemy,” Greg replied. “I’m just glad that I live in a country that enables us to differ in our beliefs.” At that point, I made a big mistake by agreeing with Greg.

That was too much for Ike, who reminded me of my suspicious background. “Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy once asked why the U.S. Information Agency (my alma mater) was stocking the shelves of its overseas libraries with literature by Communist authors,” he observed. “That is your old outfit, is it not? Why am I not surprised by whose side you’re on in this battle of wits versus nitwits?” Ouch!

I thought Greg and I were on the side of the wits, of course, and suggested that perhaps the late Sen. McCarthy wasn’t the best source for such information since he had been reprimanded by the Senate for making reckless, unsubstantiated charges before he died in an alcoholic haze.

That didn’t go over too well with Ike, who said McCarthy had recently been “vindicated by the release of documents from the former Soviet Union,” which came as a surprise to many of us.

Thinking back on my USIA career, I wondered why I had spent so much time and effort to combat Communist propaganda and to place books by best-selling American authors in our overseas libraries. I also recalled that President Kennedy’s USIA director, Edward R. Murrow, a great American journalist, had exposed Senator McCarthy’s wild charges and bullying tactics in an award-winning TV documentary.

But even though I don’t agree with Ike and his friends, I respect their right to express their opinions in the Appeal Forum and the newspaper’s letters to the editor column. I think that’s what I was defending during my 28-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service.

I worry about “the government is the enemy” crowd because, as I’ve written many times, the government isn’t some disembodied entity from outer space. It’s us! Our government can only be as good as the citizens who choose its leaders at the ballot box, which isn’t very good these days when fewer than half of the eligible voters go to the polls on Election Day.

Our form of participatory democracy requires involvement by all sectors of society, young and old, rich and poor. The alternative is let an unrepresentative minority – mostly older, whiter and richer than the majority – choose our leaders.

That’s why I’m much more concerned about the lack of voter participation and citizen involvement at all levels of government than I am about alleged government conspiracies like Project Megiddo. Just call me brain-dead; I’m blaming it on the fluoride.

Guy W. Farmer, a semi-retired journalist and former U.S. diplomat, resides in Carson City.