President Bush toured Europe last week in an attempt to gain support for his war on terrorism. Rightfully skeptical, western European powers received criticism from Bush, who instructed that ignoring terror would not make it go away. Bush presents it like the only choice is between helping the terrorists or joining his military crusade, but there are other options.

Our fighting forces are already gearing up to carry the march into Iraq, and Congress is conspicuous in its silence. European leaders have reservations, but have been generally quiet. The American people have few problems with it, judging from the miniscule amount of public dissent demonstrated in this country. Bush’s rhetoric about the forces of good against the terrorist forces of evil has been strong and effective at silencing opposition to his plan.

Anyone who attempts to criticize Bush’s war movement is put into a tough position. Some members of Congress are hesitant to complicate the war effort because they don’t want to look unpatriotic, which could have dire consequences for re-election hopes. Other countries in Europe aren’t likely to say anything bad about the war on terror because they don’t want to find themselves with a big bull’s-eye painted on their ass. Many Americans are beginning to wonder how going after Saddam relates to Sept. 11, but nobody is willing to say it in public.

The situation is a touchy one. It’s like a few people who have backed an armed madman into a corner. They know he’s emotionally unstable and that he’s waving the loaded gun around indiscriminately and babbling about some invisible enemy, but to restore order they must somehow get the gun from him. Anytime they get close enough to disarm him, he points his gun at them and they are forced to retreat.

The trick is to get the gun, but the commander in chief does not want to give it up. If you are on his side, you are his friend. If you do not support his every move, you are a terrorist sympathizer. This is why the anti-war voices have remained silent so far.

It is possible to be patriotic and not to support everything our government does. Saying that you think going into Iraq is a bad idea does not make you a terrorist. Believing that we should not escalate the war is not the same as believing that the principle behind the war is wrong. There is a wide spectrum of opinions and beliefs that go unheard in the current political atmosphere.

The atmosphere of overdone patriotism is not one that breeds dissent, but different opinions are necessary. Politicians in Washington lead busy lives, and many do not have the time to personally find out what Americans think about every issue. We have to speak up and let them know that patriotic, loyal Americans disagree with the increased military action. If we don’t, then we are either terrorists or standing in silent support of war.

Brian Nolan is a junior sociology major and Daily Nexus copy reader.