I must confess to having a secret admiration for those protesters who willingly get themselves arrested in order to make a statement of defiance against the war as well as standing up in a very public way for what they believe in.
Some may call them traitors and perhaps, in the strictest interpretation of the law, they may be considered as such. I know that in another time, a less tolerant era, they would face considerable jail time. Even today, those who have dedicated their lives to protesting our stockpile of nuclear weapons have faced jail terms up to 18 years for some serious infractions at top secret missile sites. We don’t have to agree with these people to admire their sense of purpose and steadfast adherence to their own set of principles. In fact, we can and should vigorously condemn their myopia and stupidity. But that shouldn’t lessen our respect for their sincerity.
Others may object to my romanticizing the activities of these people but in truth, they follow in the footsteps of a long line of principled Americans who believed so strongly that their government had lost its way that they were willing to disobey the law and, just as importantly, accept the consequences of their disobedience by going to jail. Civil disobedience like this takes true courage. Perhaps not the same kind of courage exhibited on the battlefield but nevertheless a kind of courage that recognizes the fact that doing what is right will entail a personal cost. For the soldier, it may mean his life. For the anti-war protester, or the civil rights advocate, or the anti-apartheid demonstrator, it may mean the loss of liberty and the shame of prison.
The motivations of those who get themselves arrested these days is certainly a mixed bag. This group, for instance, seems to be made up of some of our scruffier peace-loving, anarchist brethren whose reasons for getting thrown in the slammer may revolve more around the fact that one is able to procure “3 hots and a cot” rather than any grand, anti-globalization crusade. At the same time, there appear to be many citizens who are dead serious about their beliefs and are willing to risk injury and jail time to bring public attention to them.
Selfish or sublime, the motivations of this subset of anti-war activists stands in stark contrast to the lazy, loud, insufferably arrogant rantings of the netnuts who talk a good game but refuse to put their hides on the line when other, more courageous souls run all the risks. These are the same goofs who continue to insist on calling their opponents “chickenhawks” while ironically exhibiting true cowardice by sitting safe and secure behind their little keyboards, ranting and raving about evil George and the Neocon wars of conquest, with the full knowledge that their execrable, rambling screeds are protected by both American tradition and the Constitution of the United States. In short, they have as much chance of going to jail for what they write as I do of winning the Miss America title.
Instead of thousands or tens of thousands of these “activists” (a misnomer if ever there was one unless one were to include watching Keith Olberman as anti-war activism rather than the cruel and inhuman torture it should be defined as), peacefully protesting on a daily basis, getting themselves arrested for blocking traffic in and out of military bases or chaining themselves to the White House fence or gathering in front of the Pentagon, all we get out of them is talk, talk, talk, and more talk.
Hint to netnuts: Activists are supposed to, you know, engage in “activities” not sit at a computer spitting out incoherent rants that few people outside of the digital asylum inhabited by your ideological compatriots ever read. Why not get up off your overly ample posteriors and do something about ending the war rather than simply whining like the spoiled brat, upper middle class sloth brains you appear to be?
Being smug, self-righteous, and cowardly will not end the war in Iraq in your favor (i.e. America losing). Yes, a large majority of Americans hate the way Bush is handling the conflict. And a majority of Americans believe that the war was a mistake. But you’ll never get American troops to come home until you start clogging the jails of this country with protesters who willingly break the law and are equally willing to take the consequences of prison time in order to achieve their goal. About the only inconvenience you’ve suffered in your “activism” is in missing episodes of MTV’s Pimp My Ride. Let me tell you, that just won’t get it done.
This is why you are held in such contempt by most of us. It would be one thing if you backed up your bluster with concrete citizen’s action. But your simpering, sniveling, hateful missives only serve to make you a target of derision and disapprobation – the fate of those who posit empty headed platitudes instead of directly acting on your beliefs.
Last year, I jokingly referred to the community of faux activists who were backing Cindy Sheehan’s camp out in Crawford without actually joining her as “chickendoves:”
Youâ€™d think with all the ink spilled and pixels filled with Cindymania that there would be thousands of lefties down there, screaming their rage and anger at Bush for not doing what they want â€“ which is basically roll over and die.
Whatâ€™s the matter? Donâ€™t have the courage of your convictions? Donâ€™t want to camp out under the broiling west Texas sun and suffer for the cause? Is the issue of war and peace so unimportant to you that youâ€™re not willing to leave your families, you jobs, all the comforts of home and endure the danger of tripping over a camera cable or getting hit by a speeding satellite truck? Are you afraid youâ€™re going to get poked in the eye by a wayward reporterâ€™s pencil? Does the prospect of being in such close proximity to a bunch of tobacco chewing, bible reading, shotgun toting, red state goobers give you the cold sweats?
The answer was apparently yes. Sheehan never had more than a couple of hundred activists join her at the Bush ranch. All the more reason to start asking serious questions about the commitment of people to “peace” when they fail to show the courage of their convictions by standing up and being counted when the roll is called and the tocsin sounds for the kind of action that would mark them as true “warriors for peace.”
Somehow, I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.
As if on cue, Darksyde at Daily Kos has a “Memorial Day” post up that criticizes those conservatives and Republicans who never served in the armed forces.
This from a guy whose closest brush with standing up for his convictions that risked anything except contracting Carpel Tunnel Syndrome from sitting on his ass, typing away at his keyboard was watching an episode of Judge Judy.
How much courage does it take to call people names while a war that you purport to hate more than anything (except maybe George Bush) rages on with Americans and Iraqis dying and being maimed without you lifting a finger to oppose it?
Calling political opponents chickenhawks may be emotionally satisfying – if you happen to have the maturity of a 6 year old. But when it comes right down to it, you are all fakes, phonies, and hypocritical cowards who would let George Bush take the United States into dictatorship and who don’t have the courage of their convictions to protest this war en masse in order to put the kind of pressure necessary on the Administration to bring this war to a close.
What kind of a patriot sits behind a keyboard and writes about the country slipping into a dictatorship without getting up off your fat behind and doing something about it – even picking up a gun if necessary? Your words are meaningless. If you are really serious about this dictatorship business, what the hell are you people doing sitting at home?
I guess it’s true. Liberals really don’t love their country as much as conservatives do. Because I don’t care how old I was, if I thought for one second that a President, regardless of party, was trying to establish a dictatorship, I would be carrying out some kind of direct action – even if I was alone. And that’s the difference between liberals and conservatives; the left are intellectual cowards who don’t have the guts to do what is necessary to act on their beliefs.
For a little less emotional response (and one more devastating), please see Mark Coffey’s excellent post quoting Hitchens on the chickenhawk criticism.