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It's simple: Ari yes, 'traitors' no

May 18, 2003|Scott Timberg

A rock-ribbed Web site,, now offers something more than mash notes to Ari Fleischer and a page knocking Al Gore -- though you can find them there too. The site also features a "Traitor List" full of literary, film and arts folks who land there because, as a helpful note points out, "if you do not support our president's decisions you are a traitor."

Michael Marino, 20, says he founded the site with his brother Ben, 26, out of frustration with the political tone on the Internet. "We decided we'd be a little radical ourselves," he says. The Marino brothers work in accounting and sales at a Philadelphia computer resale company that they'd rather not identify.

The Marinos admit that they barely recognize some of the names on their own list, and they seem more interested in counting down the minutes before they run out the door to the Flyers hockey game.

So why include supposed "traitors" like poet John Ashbery, rapper and sometime actor Mos Def, playwright John Guare and soft-spoken jazz guitarist Bill Frisell?

"To be perfectly honest, it's because they signed 'Not in Our Name,' " Ben says, referring to the 2002 petition circulated by activists opposing unchecked military force in Iraq. "We just thought the letter and the whole attitude behind it very arrogant. There's plenty of room for freedom of speech in the United States. But we don't understand when respecting the president and freedom of speech became mutually exclusive."

Choreographer Bill T. Jones, who is on the list, called himself "dazed, dumbfounded and unsure how to respond," but also added, "I am proud to be on this list of names."

The arts people, the Marinos say, were included because they have some name recognition. But the Marinos' real enemies are better known. "Our biggest traitors," Ben says, "are [Susan] Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Hillary [Clinton], the Dixie Chicks."

So far, Ben says, the site's biggest success has been the "Ari Fan Club," devoted to the White House press secretary, which draws constant mail and orders for T-shirts and baseball hats.

"Ari's hot right now," Ben says. "The ladies love him. You get people on both sides of the political fence who like Ari."

Black "Traitor" caps and jerseys are still available.

-- Scott Timberg

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