T Nation

The Pentagon Papers

I’ve just watched the movie entitle “The Pentagon Papers”. It deals with Daniel Ellsberg and his release of these papers, which documented multiple administration coverups concerning Vietnam, to the media.

This debacle in history shows the importance of keeping a very close eye on any administration. It shows the value of criticism and analysis in the ever vigilant watch for wayward actions.

The movie does a good job of showing the conflict between conservatism and the belief of Ellsberg that he had to do the right thing. The rule of law and the risk of penalties were fully known by Ellsberg, but he choose to take action to help end a conflict that the public was misinformed about.

Basically, it ignores the whole hippy peacenik movement, which I’d be happy to admit is easily misguided. Liberalism, in my opinion, has nothing to do with being a peacenik and it should not be dismissed by lumping it into that or any other fringe movement.

It is the bravery and fortitude of those willing to challenge authority that help guide it to act responsibly. It is the bravery and fortitude of those willing to follow authority that give it the power to act. Both types of bravery call for risk and sacrifice to be made.

Both liberal and conservative are vital parts of the American system. Both should be cherised and praised. The divisiveness and hatred often displayed by one for the other is an unfortunate political byproduct of the power hungry.

Whether or not a democratic or republican president is in office, he or she must be watched like a hawk, to ensure that they are not tempted or corrupted by the power they possess. This, in itself, is not an unpatriotic act.

Why do I care? Because these are important issues. The US system, composed of two basic parties, left and right, highlights this struggle. It highlights the fight against the status quo, or the establishment, and the fight to maintain continuity or order on behalf of the establishment.

Should the US be in Iraq? Maybe. Will good things come from all the armed conflict overseas? Maybe. I hope so, at least. Should the US public be kept informed, be given the truth, so that it can decide on its own? Definately.

A government administration is simply an executive body. It makes decisions. As with any other decision making body, it attempts to make the right decisions. It has a vested interested in people seeing that those decisions are correct.

It has a continual motive to cover up or deceive the public with respect to mistakes or bad news. This is not an indictment of the current administration, it is simply the way authoritative bodies work. It is always right to question, to pry and to verify that what we are being told is actually the truth.

Indeed, in my life I have choosen not to follow, but to question. When authority speaks I examine its motives and make my own decision, which may or may not coincide. If you want to brand me a liberal because I continually poke and pry into the statements of authority, then go ahead, because it is a badge I will wear with pride.

Likewise, if you are a conservative because you want things to stay constant, you don’t want morals or values to change, and you will gladly move heaven and earth at the bequest of duly authorized authority, then you get to wear that badge with pride.

Neither viewpoint is wrong, no matter how strongly you may disagree with the other.

[edited to add a couple skipped words, for clarity]

"Indeed, in my life I have choosen not to follow, but to question. When authority speaks I examine its motives and make my own decision, which may or may not coincide. If you want to brand me a liberal because I continually poke and pry into the statements of authority, then go ahead, because it is a badge I will wear with pride. "

Vroom-Interesting and thought provoking post!

What happens when you question that authority and disagree with it? Do you obey the authority or fight it? Anarchy or common good? Bye the way I don’t think there is a right answer (no pun intended) but caries per individual.

Aye, there’s the rub! Great question Hedo, though there is no one answer.

One thing that I find interesting though, is that with the advent of mass media and also the Internet, we are all faced with making these types of decisions more often.

The amount of information we are presented with, the edicts of authority, the viewpoints of the opposed, whether local or distant, has increased dramatically.

Also, obviously, there is a limit to what any one person can do. To give an honest attempt at an answer, there is a balance – the import of the issue, the degree of risk involved and the ability to actually make a difference.

[quote]hedo wrote:
"Indeed, in my life I have choosen not to follow, but to question. When authority speaks I examine its motives and make my own decision, which may or may not coincide. If you want to brand me a liberal because I continually poke and pry into the statements of authority, then go ahead, because it is a badge I will wear with pride. "

Vroom-Interesting and thought provoking post!

What happens when you question that authority and disagree with it? Do you obey the authority or fight it? Anarchy or common good? Bye the way I don’t think there is a right answer (no pun intended) but caries per individual.
[/quote]

I would suppose one really needs to disect the authorities law. If it is indeed contray to truth, ethics and so forth then one needs to fight it. For example, there was a time when it was against the law of our land(backed by authority)for blacks to be free. This was a good fight for obvious reasons. So even though people fought authority it was for the common good. Just because one disobeys authority does not imply anarchy.