The Right To Dissent

Susan Sarandon and her partner, Tim Robbins, flash the peace sign as they arrive for the Academy Awards on March 23, 2003, in Los Angeles. The baseball Hall of Fame has canceled a 15th anniversary celebration of the film ``Bull Durham'' because of anti-war criticism by co-stars Robbins and Sarandon, the shrine's president said.
I thought the administration had no choice but to disarm Saddam Hussein, but when a group of film stars spoke out against the war and, in fact, became the main opposition group, I invited several of them, including Susan Sarandon, to state their reasons on Face the Nation, because that's what we try to do here -- present all sides of public issues.

The film stars seemed sincere, but I found their arguments unconvincing, as did most Americans, if the polls are right. Nevertheless, they did have a legitimate point of view that added to public understanding.

That's why I found it so ridiculous when the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum canceled a ceremony honoring the baseball movie "Bull Durham" because it starred Ms. Sarandon and her companion Tim Robbins, because, as the museum director put it, their opposition to the war could undermine U.S. policy and put our troops in more anger.

I doubt that. A nation that got through two world wars and Vietnam will probably survive a bad review from two actors.

But here is what does bother me: There seems to be a notion going around lately that any criticism of government policy is somehow dangerous, even unpatriotic. I doubt that too, because, to me, here is what is un-American: the idea that Americans will ever agree completely on anything, or that we would want to.

Knowing we can criticize the government is what makes us strong, not weak.

And you know who never figured that out? Saddam Hussein, to name one.

Let's hope we don't make the mistake he did.