Examiner Editorial: To President Clinton, criticism is terrorism 

President Bill Clinton has warned in speeches and in a New York Times op-ed commemorating the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City terrorist bombing that “there is a big difference between criticizing a policy or a politician and demonizing the government that guarantees our freedoms and the public servants who enforce our laws.” Clinton even defined “demonizing the government” by pointing out that the Oklahoma City bombers were motivated by “the belief that the greatest threat to American freedom is our government, and that public servants do not protect our freedoms, but abuse them.”

Sound like any group you’ve heard about recently?

Just as he did in 1995, Clinton is again peddling the argument that a new wave of domestic terrorism is coming this time because millions of tea party Americans have, during the past year or more, taken to the streets to protest, often loudly, many of the policies advanced by President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic majority in Congress.

What Clinton neglects to say, however, is that criticism of Obamacare, the economic stimulus program, corruption in Congress, out-of-control federal spending and an exploding national debt is widely shared among moderates, independents and conservatives, and among many Democrats and Republicans. That’s why recent public opinion surveys found that 80 percent of Americans no longer trust their government, while majorities nearly as big say their congressmen don’t deserve to be re-elected. And disapproval of the president’s job performance is headed toward the 60 percent mark.

If Clinton and other liberal Democrats who agree with him truly believe that the words of tea party activists and other critics of the Obama presidency will inspire acts of terrorism, it only seems logical to conclude that they would also endorse official suppression of such speech. They need look no further for a precedent than the 1798 “Act to Punish Certain Crimes Against the United States” — one of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

That law made it illegal for any person to “write, print, utter or publish, or shall cause or procure to be written, printed, uttered or published, or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid in writing, printing, uttering or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States, with intent to defame the said government, or either house of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them, or either of them, into contempt or disrepute; or to excite against them.”

Thankfully, President Thomas Jefferson, after whom Clinton is named, and a new Congress elected in protest of that law, promptly repealed it. It’s Jefferson’s descendants carrying the protest signs today.

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