During a rally held in Salt Lake City yesterday, thousands cheered Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson as he blasted George Bush as a "dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights-violating president."
The protest against Bush's Iraq war policies was held prior to the president's arrival Wednesday night in Salt Lake City to give a speech to the national convention of the American Legion this morning.
Utah is considered to be the "reddest" state, showing that there is growing debate about the Iraq war even in friendly Bush territory.
"A patriot does not tell people who are intensely concerned about their country to just sit down and be quiet; to refrain from speaking out in the name of politeness or for the sake of being a good host; to show slavish, blind obedience and deference to a dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights-violating president," Mayor Anderson told the crowd, estimated by organizers to number between 4,000 and 5,000
The Utah Republican Party had initiated a radio campaign, urging listeners to call-in and complain about Mayor Anderson's participation in the anti-Bush protest. The radio spot criticized the mayor for wanting to "cut and run" in Iraq. On some stations, the advertisement was broadcast 20 times per day.
The mayor reports that there were many negative calls generated by the Republican Party's radio campaign. But the mayor also said there were also many calls supporting his participation in the protest.
"We will continue to resist the lies, the deceptions, the outrages of the Bush administration and this complacent, complicit, go-along Congress," Anderson said. "We must pursue peace as vigorously as the Bush administration has pursued war."
Anderson told the crowd, "We are here to say...'no more God-is-on-our-side religious nonsense to justify this immoral, illegal war.'"
Earlier today, Anderson told MSNBC that he was a "gracious person" but that "we all have a moral responsibility to stand up and oppose our president when we see him taking our nation in such a wrong direction."
Excerpts from Mayor Anderson's speech:
A patriot is a person who loves his or her country.
Who among you loves your country so much that you have come here today to raise your voice out of deep concern for our nation - and for our world?
And who among you loves your country so much that you insist that our nation's leaders tell us the truth?
Let's hear it: "Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth!"
Let no one deny we are patriots. We love our country, we hold dear the values upon which our nation was founded, and we are distressed at what our President, his administration, and our Congress are doing to, and in the name of, our great nation.
Blind faith in bad leaders is not patriotism.
A patriot does not tell people who are intensely concerned about their country to just sit down and be quiet; to refrain from speaking out in the name of politeness or for the sake of being a good host; to show slavish, blind obedience and deference to a dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights-violating president.
That is not a patriot. Rather, that person is a sycophant. That person is a member of a frightening culture of obedience - a culture where falling in line with authority is more important than choosing what is right, even if it is not easy, safe, or popular. And, I suspect, that person is afraid - afraid we are right, afraid of the truth (even to the point of denying it), afraid he or she has put in with an oppressive, inhumane, regime that does not respect the laws and traditions of our country, and that history will rank as the worst presidency our nation has ever had to endure.
In response to those who believe we should blindly support this disastrous president, his administration, and the complacent, complicit Congress, listen to the words of Theodore Roosevelt, a great president and a Republican, who said: The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole.
Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.
To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.
We are here today as truth-tellers.
And we are here to demand: "Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth!"
We are here today to insist that those who were elected to be our leaders must tell us the truth.
We are here today to insist that our news media live up to its sacred responsibility to ascertain and report the truth - rather than acting like nothing more than a bulletin board for the lies and propaganda of a manipulative, dishonest federal government.