My cosmopolitan patriots would have been mystified by the suggestion that dissent is somehow un-American. America was born in an act of defiance; the American republican experiment can be declared dead once political minorities lose the right to dissent publicly. Social and political progress depends on dissent. Those who would quash dissent are inherently reactionary and self-serving — indeed, unpatriotic.
Recent evidence that the Bush administration exaggerated accounts of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, as many critics feared, highlights the necessity, nay imperative, for citizens to critically scrutinize government policy. As cosmopolitan patriots like James acknowledged, nowhere is critical scrutiny of government more necessary and more difficult to maintain than in the area of foreign policy, with all its “classified” secrets. In this arena perhaps more than anywhere else, citizens have to ask questions and speak out.