THE LOST ART OF PEACEFUL PROTEST
I am constantly amazed at the angry vehemence of the Republican crowd. They seem incapable of discussing anything without descending into personal slams and abject spitefulness. Then they babble on about "Freedom of Speech", just as though they are not ganging up on people to suppress it.
If you disapprove of any behavior of George W. Bush, if you deplore the mess in Iraq, if you shiver at all of this talk of "nuclear" power, you are instantly told you are being unpatriotic, disloyal and reprehensible. The more ardent ones will suggest that you be "lashed to a bomb and dropped over Baghdad". Others accuse you of helping the terrorists, that the great American habit of peaceful protest has been replaced by the word "treason".
Now I don't know Osama bin Laden, and I deplore his tactics. He is a menace to society, as we all know, and I would feel vastly more comfortable if he were captured. I don't know as disapproving of the war is a criteria for his friendship, but I could voice the fact that I believe there were fewer emissaries from Osama's posse in Iraq before the war than there seem to be now. And I am not fond of a war started on erroneous facts, which seems to be the case. If you haven't read the Downing Street Minutes, I believe every American should do so.
During the Bush tenure, we seem to have lost the right to peaceful protest. First, peaceful anything seems impossible with Republicans. They are aching for a fight, since they seem to consider the populace, excluding themselves, deep in the pits of moral depravity. They seem to feel that only they can straighten up this terribly sinful population. Only if you agree with them will you win approval, not only from their minions, but from the Lord, whom they have claimed as their own.
When President Bush makes a speech, those adoring faces you see uplifted toward him, as though he were the embodiment of the Second Coming, are either Republicans or liars. Before entering his exalted presence, one must sign some sort of a Pledge vowing allegiance to Bush. Nasty old Democrats are not allowed on the premises from what I hear, and a Kerry T-Shirt once brought on the gendarmes.
I talked to a young newspaper photographer and she told me that, before being able to take pictures of the President's visit to Michigan, she had to sign this document. What made it worse is the fact that she is a loyal Democrat, but was forced to lie to keep her job. I comforted her, told her God would understand, even if Bush didn't, and she felt somewhat placated.
I think the truth is that President Bush is very frightened. He has wrought havoc in the world and, unless he is assured his audience is composed of loyalists, he knows he might be subjected to angry catcalls and other embarrassments. So he has chosen to pick his audiences carefully, lest some dissenter show up.
The only problem with this is that Bush seems to serve as President to about half the population, while the other half remain unrepresented, reeling from the strongarm tactics, wondering what comes next.
And the loyalists approve these methods. At the beginning of the War in Iraq, when Shock & Awe was providing a great fireworks demonstration for the American people and undoubtedly death and disaster for the Iraqi, feelings ran so intense that, if anyone dared complain, they were almost beaten to death with a flagstaff. Sean Penn went to Iraq to "see for himself", and the loyalists frothed at the mouth, proclaiming that "movie actors should stick to movies.".
A few months later, Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for governor of California and the loyalists cheered. No comments about movie actors stepping out of the movies into politics. Not at all.
Now, there is the mother of a dead soldier haunting the President's property in Crawford, Texas, where he is vacationing. She wants to ask the President questions. She wants answers. So far, she has been ignored. And the Hate Machine is gearing up. How dare her do this! Her stories are conflicting! Doesn't she realize the privilege of dying for a noble cause?
President Bush is ignoring her just as he ignored the multitude of funerals in Ohio, the home state of several Marines killed in the war. He doesn't pay much attention to the fallout from this war. Coffins are hidden. Hospital wards crowded with injured soldiers welcome no reporters or photographers. And, as far as I know, he does not attend the memorial services of the dead.
I suppose it would be hard to force the mourners to either sign a Pledge, or stand two blocks away from the area confined by fencing or crime tape. I suppose the President fears confrontation, if he attends a memorial service. It is easier to mouth a prepared speech in front of a microphone, proclaiming his sympathies and reminding all the mothers and fathers that their sons and daughters died in a "noble cause".
I disagree. I think they are noble soldiers, all of whom died in a "lost cause". But that's just my opinion. We are still allowed to have opinions, aren't we? And that doesn't make me a "friend of Osama bin Laden's", does it?
Perhaps I'd better go outside and wave my flag as I goosestep around the yard, just to impress the rightwing neighbors.