I was too young for the May Day protest against the Viet Nam War held in Washington, D.C. in 1971. My friends and I talked about going for weeks prior to the event, seeing ourselves as something as a cross between Che Guevara and Abbie Hoffman. We even talked seriously about ditching school, running away for a few days (our parents were dead set against any of us going), and joining the massive demonstration.
Alas, it was a pipe dream. We were just stupid kids, scared to death about being drafted and believing the anti-war propaganda about the military, the government, and the United States. We opposed the war for very personal reasons; we didn’t want to die in what we were being told was a war of conquest being fought by evil capitalists against the heroic Vietnamese agricultural reformers.
Those not alive at the time cannot fathom the depth of feeling engendered by the anti-war movement. It was magical, powerful, uplifting, and joyous. We thought we were changing the world. We thought we were ushering in a new era of democracy.
What we didn’t know was that the gimlet eyed radicals who were really in charge of the anti-war movement could have cared less about us, about the United States, or about the war for that matter. They wanted to use the anti-war movement to sweep the old guard from power and install like minded socialists in government.
The May Day protest in Washington, D.C. sought to shut down the government. Some 50,000 hard core demonstrators would block the streets and intersections while putting up human barricades in front of federal offices. How exactly this would stop the war was kind of fuzzy. No matter. Nixon was ready with the army and National Guard and in the largest mass arrest in US history, clogged the jails of Washington with 10,000 kids.
Where are the clogged jails today? As I watch the demonstration on the mall today (much smaller than those in the past) I am thinking of the massive gulf between the self absorbed hodge podge of anti-globalist, pro-feminist, anti-capitalist, pro-abortion anti-war fruitcakes cheering on speakers lobbying for Palestinians, Katrina aid, and other causes not related to the war and the committed, determined bunch of kids who put their hides on the line, filling up the jails of dozens of cities, risking the billy clubs and tear gas of the police to stop what they saw as an unjust war.
The netnuts are fond of calling those of us who support the mission in Iraq chickenhawks. What do you call someone who sits on their ass in front of a keyboard, railing against the President, claiming that the United States is falling into a dictatorship, and writing about how awful this war is and yet refuses to practice the kinds of civil disobedience that their fathers and mothers used to actually bring the Viet Nam war to an end?
I call them what they are; rank cowards. There should be a million people on the mall today. Instead, there might be 50,000. Today’s antiwar left talks big but cowers in the corner. I have often written about how unserious the left is about what they believe. The reason is on the mall today. If they really thought that the United States was on the verge of becoming a dictatorship are you seriously trying to tell me that any patriotic American wouldn’t do everything in their power to prevent it rather than mouth idiotic platitudes and self serving bromides?
I know what I would do if I actually believed the United States was in danger of slipping into some kind of authoritarian, anti-Constitutional nightmare. And it wouldn’t be sitting at this keyboard trying to come up with cleverest way to skewer my political opponent. And I know I wouldn’t be alone either. The fact is, the left is not blessed with any special insights into what evil George is trying to do to the Constitution. They are a small, pitiful minority of paranoid, self aggrandizing mountebanks who are courageous when it comes to calling people names but abject cowards when it comes to actually standing up for their beliefs and putting iron behind their words of change.
Where are all the people chaining themselves to the gates of military bases? Where are the thousands of people blocking military convoys? A couple of kids throw rocks at a military recruiting office but where are all the protestors? For God’s sake, there are more people who protest in front of abortion clinics every day than protest in front of military recruiting offices.
The fact is, the anti-war movement is a mile long and an inch deep. If there really was a massive movement to stop the war in Iraq, it would manifest itself in people carrying out some of the actions I’ve outlined above. But there is no anti-war groundswell. The American people are tired of the war, tired of the incompetence and failure and wish to see an end to the partisan wrangling over it. But war weariness does not translate into the kind of action that would stop the war dead in its tracks and bring the troops home.
To the anti-war crowd I say get off your asses and stand up for your convictions. If you seriously believe American democracy is in danger, don’t just sit like a bump on a log and pontificate about it; get up on you hind legs and fight. As it stands now, you’re all just a bunch of intellectual exhibitionists with as much commitment to ending the war and saving democracy as my pet cat Aramas.
And at least Aramas has the redeeming characteristic of being pleasant to be around.