The public service announcement has just been launched, but already it seems to be working. Last week, University ofSouth Florida professor, Sami Al-Arian, was fired from his tenured position after being accused on the Fox Network’sBill O’Reilly show of being a terrorist. He has never been detained or charged with any crime. But he joinsthousands of people around the country of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent who have been threatened, fired,detained or questioned since September 11.
When he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee two weeks ago, Attorney General John Ashcroft said that"those who would raise false fears of phantoms of lost liberties" aid the cause of terrorism. Shortly after theSeptember 11 attacks White House officials said for similar people around the country should "watch what they say."
Around the country, however, many other people from all walks of life have been targeted, harassed, threatened,expelled, and even fired–not for their background–but for speaking out against the Bush Administration and theU.S. attack on Afghanistan. It turns out that in the so-called war on terrorism the classroom, the workplace, andyes, even the local gym have ears increasingly tuned to hear almost any sign of political dissent.
- Barry Reingold, retired PG&E worker who was visited by the FBI for speaking out at his local gym in SanFrancisco.