Wednesday, March 23, 2005



By Jack Random

[Summary: In these trying times, the ranks of the antiwar movement are missing some of their most prominent members. The equivocators, whose passion for the cause has seemingly waned, are in some ways more damaging than rightwing ideologues.]

Something was missing from the antiwar rally at City Plaza in San Francisco. Two years after the war began, nearly two months after an election in Iraq made the purple finger a symbol of freedom, the proud statue of Simon Bolivar looked out over a sea of protesters and no one of notoriety looked back.

Where was the Hollywood contingent? Where were the high-profile champions of the Green Party? Where were the members of Congress? Perhaps some attended rallies in other parts of the country but they were not here. Having been at every major rally since before the war, I can attest that the absence of star power was a first. Perhaps it is unfair to charge the famous of abandoning the cause for lack of a mass audience but it is a thought that must have crossed more than a few of our minds.

Those of us who marched and gathered to declare our renewed resolve should be proud that we have stood the challenge. Those who accuse us now of obstinacy, of refusing to accept the glory of war simply because it is sponsored by a president we despise, are the same individuals who gave up the cause at Shock and Awe. They include comedian-turned-pundit Bill Maher, Senators Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein and John Kerry. They are the ultimate equivocators (who never tire of criticizing the equivocations of others) such as MS/NBC’s Chris Matthews and fellow soft-baller Tim Russert. They include virtually everyone who has been allowed to wear the hat of an antiwar spokesperson before the mainstream media cameras, with the notable exceptions of Amy Goodman and Katrina vanden Heuvel.

In the winter of 1776, when the independence of this nation was very much in doubt, citizen Tom Paine etched his most famous words by campfire on the head of a drum: These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

Perhaps we should perceive the evolution of events as positive. When the authorities were afraid of us, they branded us traitors and threatened to slap us in jail or ship us off to foreign lands that have no sense of humanitarian restraint. Now, they only accuse us of obstinacy and poor manners.

We are so filled with hatred for George W. Bush that we cannot admit that anything he says or does is right and honorable. Strangely, it is a familiar appeal and one that has been sounded to justify the actions of the last several administrations. It is a particularly vexing accusation because it appeals to the public without having to rely on reason. They have invented their own opposition and when events do not play out as the pseudo opposition predicted, they claim victory over themselves.

No one in the antiwar movement declared that either Arabs or Muslims were incapable of achieving democracy. No one in the antiwar movement said that an election could not be held under conditions of Marshall Law. No one in the antiwar movement has opposed democracy anywhere in the world – not in the Ukraine, not in Iran, Lebanon, Iraq or Ohio.

We are accused of working backwards from our disdain for the president to a blanket distrust of his policies. I accuse the accusers of working backwards from their need to placate the president, along with the corporate masters who sign their paychecks. Are we allowed to consider the president’s history? Are we allowed to consider the Bush Doctrine of foreign policy? Are we permitted to acknowledge the Bush administration’s betrayal of democracy in Haiti, Venezuela, Pakistan or the Philippines? I accuse our detractors of closing their eyes to those truths that do not fit the mold of their appeasement.

The equivocators point to France as an example of appropriate reticence and reserve. Indeed, I point to the Gold Coast and Port-au-Prince and demand that the French take Jacques Chirac down for his betrayals.

The equivocators point to NATO as a model of dispassionate cooperation. I point to Italy, Spain, Poland and Ukraine. Everywhere democracy springs up, support for the war declines. There are few in the Ukraine that are thanking George Bush for democracy and fewer in Washington thanking Viktor Yushchenko for making good his promise to withdraw from Iraq. In Lebanon, given the history of western involvement, there is as much or more concern about America’s role in internal affairs as that of Syria. It is no secret that intelligence operations have resumed in Lebanon and it is not beyond contemplating that the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was a CIA operation designed to destabilize Lebanon and damage relations with Syria.

Will the equivocators concede that there is, at this juncture, no democracy in Iraq? Will they admit that without sovereignty elections are little more than a show? Will they admit that the administration has shown little interest in Latin American or African democracy? Will they admit that America’s attraction to Middle Eastern “democracy” is grounded in the thick, black fluid that rests beneath Arabic feet? Will they concede that thus far we have accomplished nothing more than media events and press releases designed to create an illusion of democracy while the people remain powerless? Will they admit that we have sacrificed fifteen hundred American soldiers, $200 billion, and roughly 125,000 Iraqis [1] for a photo op to justify an ongoing theft? If Iraq is a democracy, then who controls the oil? This is the question that divides the fools from the liars, the equivocators from the lords of avarice.

When we have sacrificed another thousand or two soldiers, another 50,000 Arab lives, when the draft is reinstated, when we establish permanent bases for permanent war on the Arabian peninsula, when we defy the expressed will of the people to withdraw our forces, when we refuse to nullify the contracts of an occupier, then it will be our turn to order crow for your suppers.

Will you be so kind as to swallow? You are worse than the warlords who believe in this crusade for the obvious reason: the Iraqis have what we covet. You are worse because you allow them to get away with it on the pretense of virtue. You are worse because you know better – or would if you allowed yourself to pursue the truth beyond comfortable conclusions. You are worse because you have abandoned the cause without cause. You ride the waves of popular opinion without honor or shame and expect to be welcomed at every table.

You are the sunshine patriots and summer soldiers who possess no convictions, who harbor no loyalties, and in the end you will have earned neither the love nor the thanks of man, woman or nation.


1) Extrapolated from the only objective estimate of Iraqi casualties to date, that of the British medical journal Lancet.


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