First published in April 2003, during the first days of George W. Bush's Iraq war.
Mr. Bush has dragged us into a shameful and unprovoked war with Iraq, a war unprecedented in our nation’s history for its outright aggression and utter lack of a just cause. He has done so against the better judgement of the rest of the world and without the consent of the American people. His actions do not befit a president so much as a monarch, and we hope that Philadelphia has not forgotten its distinguished history of dealing with monarchs.
Mr. Bush does not want us involved with his war because he knows which side we are going to take. Instead of asking for our help, his Administration has opened a second front, targeting our very way of life: Our rights to due process, to free speech, to free assembly, and to live in a country where religion and politics are kept separate. Born in Philadelphia, these liberties have been the bedrock of our national life for more than 200 years. Generations of American soldiers have died on the field of battle so that we might not squander this inheritance of freedom. Their bodies lie scattered across the globe, from the old potter’s field at Sixth and Walnut to the coast of Normandy. It is these bones our leaders insult when they command us to refrain from dissent and “support the troops.”
The war with Iraq will probably turn out to be second in a long series of wars to expand America’s dominion over the world. Iraq will serve as an eastern base from which the Administration can coordinate further campaigns. As Mr. Bush spreads American freedoms wider abroad, they will be stretched even more thinly at home, until our Republic is diluted into a barbaric mirror of the tyrannies we once fought against. As Commander in Chief, Mr. Bush will lord over each of our franchise nations. Their people will learn to hate our people. Eventually the whole empire will collapse in on itself like a dead star, but not before our board of directors and their chosen heirs cash in through private oil, arms, and data mining concerns. We will be left to deal with the aftermath, wondering why an entire continent could not satisfy our pioneer lust to seize new lands.
The Administration has already proven itself deaf to the cries of millions around the globe, calling for peace. Each of us must now draw a line in our hearts—how far will we let Mr. Bush go before we declare ourselves to be openly against him? Will we let him open our mail? Tap our phones? Arrest our neighbors? Censor our speech? Send our daughters and sons to die for no cause at all in Iraq? In Iran? In North Korea?
We must ask ourselves what we will do if Mr. Bush crosses that final line, just as he has crossed line after line throughout his ill-begotten term in office. And when we see him cross that line, we must act.
Several people authored this unsigned editorial.