O’er the land of the sometimes free

Marchae Grair

Sometimes, I fear living in America.

The land of the free has very tight reigns on how far its freedoms can reach. People who have moderate lifestyles and views are wrapped in the embrace of this nation’s arms. However, if an American lives within the majority’s disdain, he or she has the right to be afraid.

Look no further than the recent controversy about Kent State associate history professor Julio Pino.

Mike Adams, an associate professor from the University of North Carolina, posted a blog accusing Pino of running a jihadist Web site called Global War. Adams posted the blog on an international news site, and it gained national attention.

Adams alleged Pino supports al-Qaida, the Taliban and militant Palestinians.

The general public is outraged. Kent State and Pino are receiving hate mail and death threats. Approximately 60 percent of the comments on the Daily Kent Stater’s Web page featuring the article were against Pino and unlimited free speech. The online article about Pino at StaterOnline.com drew 64 comments, which included few factually supported opinions and plenty of meaningless banter and name-calling.

People, impassioned yet uninformed, are lobbying for Pino’s immediate firing. They are questioning Kent State’s integrity because he still teaches here.

Some see the university as too liberal for not firing Pino and making statements that do not demean him as a professional.

Kent State has never made me more proud.

I do not support terrorist ideas or notions. I do, however, support the right to live in a nation that cannot persecute someone solely because of an Internet blog. It astonished me how quickly people were willing to take the word of Adams over Pino.

Many who have rallied against Pino have not seen his Web site or Adams’ blog; they’ve simply read articles about the uproar. People wanted to strip Pino of all his credentials without thinking twice.

I understand those who put information on the Internet are making themselves vulnerable. Pino’s ideologies are not what I stand to argue.

I want to know if I’m living in the next great age of ignorance created by fear. Are people going to take every cruel word said about a Middle Eastern person and believe it as true without knowing the facts? Is paranoia enough to strip someone of everything because he or she believes in Allah?

Whether Pino supports terrorist ideas or not doesn’t scare me as much as the reaction people had to the situation. If people start sending my college death threats and thinking it’s all right, then I already have those terrorists to fear.

I remember Sept. 11 just like any other American, but starting terror-based McCarthyism won’t make anything better.

I beg the American people to redirect their passions. Instead of posting 100 online messages bickering about issues, go to the polls in 2008 and be represented in the White House. Instead of trying to identify terrorists from an Internet page, question a war that’s being fought with a less than heroic purpose.

Two wrongs do not make a right. Punishing Pino without further investigation or student complaints would have been completely wrong of this university.

When an angry mob blacklists a man on the foundation of a blog, the freedom they aim to protect is inevitably destroyed.

I fear nothing more than a terrified America. As someone who is willing to stand for freedom the right way, I will always be its victim.

Marchae Grair is a freshman broadcast news major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].