Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - Actor and anti-war activist Tim Robbins said Tuesday that "it is time to get angry" over the Bush administration's alleged reprisals against opponents of the war.
Robbins told an audience at the National Press Club that the Bush administration has taken advantage of the American people and squandered the good will the world had recently developed toward the U.S.
"In the 19 months since 9/11, we have seen our democracy compromised by fear and hatred," he claimed. "Basic inalienable rights, due process, the sanctity of the home have been quickly compromised in a climate of fear.
"A unified American public has grown bitterly divided," Robbins continued, "and a world population that had profound sympathy and support for us has grown contemptuous and distrustful, viewing us as we once viewed the Soviet Union, as a rogue state."
The actor-activist accused the Bush administration and other supporters of the war of a campaign of intimidation to silence those who disagree with them.
"A message is being sent through the White House and its allies in talk radio...[that] if you oppose this administration, there can and will be ramifications," Robbins claimed. "Every day, the airwaves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent."
Robbins also accused the American media of colluding with the U.S. government to conceal the consequences of the war against Saddam Hussein.
"Unlike the rest of the world, our news coverage of this war remains sanitized, without a glimpse of the blood and gore inflicted upon our soldiers or the women and children in Iraq," Robbins charged. "We are told it would be pornographic. We want no part of reality in real life."
He complimented the professionalism and achievements of the American military and challenged the argument that one cannot oppose the war while supporting the troops.
"Our ability to disagree and our inherent right to question our leaders and criticize their actions define who we are," Robbins argued. "To allow those rights to be taken away out of fear, to punish people for their beliefs, to limit access in the news media to differing opinions is to acknowledge our democracy's defeat."
Robbins called on those who agree or disagree with his anti-war stance to rise up against what he deems false patriotism.
"In this time when a citizenry applauds the liberation of a country as it lives in fear of its own freedom...when people all over the country fear reprisal if they use their right to free speech, it is time to get angry. It is time to get fierce," he continued. "Any instance of intimidation to free speech should be battled against. Any acquiescence to intimidation at this point will only lead to more intimidation."
War in Iraq Said to Be 'Trial Run' for 'World Military Dictator'
Thomas Andrews, who appeared with Robbins, now heads Win Without War, a coalition of some 40 groups including the NAACP, the National Council of Churches, the Sierra Club and the National Organization for Women.
He said Tuesday that the coalition opposed the war because it was "unnecessary, illegal and would leave our nation and our world less secure.
"Despite the much-touted successes of the military invasion," Andrews argued, "the costs and risks of this war remain enormous, and there is no reason to believe the U.S. is any more secure now than it was before."
The Maine Democrat and former U.S. representative from that state said he also fears that the Bush White House was merely "testing the waters" with the attack on Saddam Hussein's dictatorship.
"The U.S. war against Iraq is in many ways a trial run to establish what this administration calls a 'new norm' in international relations," Andrews said. "The Bush administration is pursuing a vision in which the U.S. is not only the world's policeman, but also the world's military dictator, answerable only to itself."
Andrews believes that the pre-emptive strike against Iraq will not have the desired effect of deterring other nations from developing weapons of mass destruction or selling them to terrorists.
"So-called rogue states could very likely conclude that they had better develop nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction immediately, or they'll be vulnerable to a United States preventive war," he concluded.
The war against Iraq had little to do with stopping terrorism, Andrews claimed, and may - in his opinion - fuel more attacks on the U.S.
"As expected, the war has caused an upsurge in anti-American sentiment in the Middle East and around the world," he argued.
"Al Qaeda was created and became empowered by the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia following the first Gulf War," Andrews continued. "What new networks will be spawned in reaction to the U.S. presence in Iraq?"
Bush Approval Ratings Rise as Statues of Saddam Fall
Newsweek.com reported Tuesday that President Bush's approval rating with the American public had risen 18 points in the past month to 71 percent.
"Bush gets strong marks for his handling of the war in Iraq and the larger war on terrorism, with 74 and 78 percent approving of his efforts in those areas respectively," Jennifer Barrett wrote for the newsmagazine's website.
"And a full 93 percent of those surveyed say they believe U.S. military efforts in Iraq have gone very well (73 percent) or somewhat well (20 percent) so far."
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