Back in the good old days, when America was fearlessly battling godless Soviets in the Cold War, it was understood that anybody who disagreed with your politics had to be a communist. Even if they weren’t, it wouldn’t do you harm to accuse them of being one anyway. But now that America has vanquished its age-old foe in the field of handing out federal military contracts, the communist accusation doesn’t have the same zing that it had before.

As luck would have it, as we’ve moved into the 21st century. We’ve also moved into a new era. After a mere decade of peace and prosperity, we are now engaged in a global war on terrorism. Since the world is now, according to our benevolent leader, divided into “us versus them,” it’s only natural that anybody who disagrees with you falls into the “them” category. If that’s the case, then they’re quite obviously a terrorist.

Here’s an example. One of the fiercest critics of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act has been the National Education Association (NEA), the largest and most powerful teachers’ union in the nation. In addition to arguing that the plan focused too heavily on standardized testing, the NEA also criticized the fact that the plan was underfunded by $33 billion.

So, naturally, Secretary of Education Rod Paige responded to these criticisms in a sophisticated and cordial manner becoming of a White House cabinet member. He called the NEA a “terrorist organization.” Obviously a teachers’ union concerned with the state of education in America can quite easily be equated to groups like al-Qaeda. It makes sense.

I’m sure we all remember Karen Hughes, the former Bush advisor who drew protest crowds when she dropped by UCSB on her book promotion tour. When she was at the CNN headquarters doing an interview for her book, she made comments that likened abortion rights advocates to those in the “terror network.” While she didn’t explicitly say that pro-choice advocates were terrorists, she made the implication that terrorists and pro-choice people share the same values. These comments were all conveniently made as a million women marched on Washington for reproductive rights.

Senator Joseph McCarthy made a career out of accusing other people of being communists. Today, simply replace “communist” with “terrorist” and add some vitriol and you have yourself a multi-million dollar career. Best selling right-wing commentator and author Ann Coulter has made a living off of accusing everyone to the left of Bush of being a “terrorist sympathizer.” According to her, “Liberals work overtime to give terrorists a cushion for the next attack.”

You heard her right. It’s only logical that in our free time, we liberals are actually aiding and abetting terrorists, cheering the idea of another 9/11.

This is because we obviously have nothing better to do. Don’t let this give you the impression that terrorist accusations are limited to partisan politics. As any UCSB student knows, we pay an exorbitant amount for our textbooks, an amount which seems to increase each quarter without fail. CalPIRG has actually been lobbying textbook publishers against needless price increases. Thomson Learning, a calculus textbook publisher that was the focus of CalPRIG’s efforts, decided to lower textbook prices, but contends it was not because of CalPIRG