Am I the only person who thinks Gail Collins looks like Laura Bush but has great things to say anyway? This is about the Supreme Court and equal pay for women. When it comes to money, I can be called a feminist to the core. The most senior woman at a corp made less then the most junior man. McCain would–read the article. It did make me remember why I’m a Democrat
This article shook me to the core. I’m reprinting it here as it’s so unbelievable, yet so America in the millennium.
The PEN American Center, the literary organization committed to free expression, is honoring an American most people in this country have never read or even heard of: Laura Berg. She is a psychiatric nurse at a Veterans Affairs hospital who was threatened with a sedition investigation after she wrote a letter to the editor denouncing the Bush administrationâ€™s bungling of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war.
Thatâ€™s right, sedition: inciting rebellion against the government. We suppose nothing should surprise us in these days of government zealotry. But the horror and the shame of that witch hunt should shock everyone.
Ms. Berg identified herself as a V.A. nurse when, soon after Katrinaâ€™s horrors, she sent her impassioned letter to The Alibi, a paper in Albuquerque. â€œI am furious with the tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence of this government,â€ she wrote. â€œWe need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit.â€
Her superiors at the hospital soon alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and impounded her office computer, where she keeps the case files of war-scarred veterans she treats. Then she received an official warning in which a Veterans Affairs investigator intoned that her letter â€œpotentially represents sedition.â€
It took civil rights litigators and Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico to â€œact forcefullyâ€ in reminding the government of the Constitution and her right to free speech. The Department of Veterans Affairs retreated then finally apologized to the shaken Ms. Berg.
Even then, she noted, one superior told her it was preferred that she not identify herself as a V.A. nurse in any future letter writing. â€œAnd so I am saying I am a V.A. nurse,â€ Ms. Berg soon boomed out in a radio broadcast. â€œAnd some of my fire in writing this about Katrina and Iraq is from my experience as a V.A. nurse.â€ Thus declared Ms. Berg, well chosen to receive the new PEN/Katherine Anne Porter First Amendment Award.
We need a president who will begin to undo the horrors of the past seven years. It’s more than a recession, a wrong war, the bungling of Katrina, Iraq and I will add 9/11. It’s the consistent undermining of our Constitution and its Amendments–the foundation upon which this country was formed.
More people would listen to Laura Berg if she identified herself as a VA nurse than if she didn’t. As bloggers we pat ourselves on the back for saying such profound things as “f–k Bush.” We believe we’re incredible for stating the obvious without putting our lives and/our careers on the line.
We’re not. Laura Berg is.