“Come out, come out wherever you are” is a common refrain we hear children yell when they play hide-and-seek. Today, many anti-war groups who had pestered, vilified and protested President’s Reagan’s and Bush’s national security objectives in the past are playing an expert level of hide-and-seek, no one can find them.
The word “principle” is used often in political context by the left and right. We often hear we need elected officials “who are true to their principles.” The word is used so often that it has lost its meaning in the political arena. The actions by today’s anti-war groups add to that hypocrisy because their principles only seem to apply by who is in the Oval Office.
In February 2003, as the US prepared for war in Iraq, Congressional approval already granted and the majority of the country supportive of the invasion, one of the largest anti-war protests of all time took place.
In New York, “a giant puppet depicting President Bush holding buckets of blood and oil towered over the cheering crowd . . .” and Desmond Tutu, Susan Sarandon and Danny Glover spoke at the protest of somewhere between 100,000 and 350,000 people. Maybe many of these people are not protesting today because they got jobs? That is doubtful in the Obama economy.
In Los Angeles, Rob Reiner defined the protestors as patriots, simply attempting to protect the troops from needlessly being placed in harm’s way and thus, offering the greatest support ever for those who risk their lives protecting our freedoms.
Up to two million Britons, joined by Jesse Jackson, also demonstrated against the war, chanting, “George Bush, terrorist.” Of course words and apparently other people’s money mean little to the Jackson family.
Estimates are between 10 and 30 million people, in 600 cities, protested around the world that day.
Groups that were very active under George Bush have nearly disappeared, and although there have been small gatherings here and there across the country, they have been unable to garner significant support. Could the current occupant in the White House be the reason?
There have been complaints from the groups themselves that they haven’t had the resources or the participants since the end of the Bush years, when opposition to war pretty much died down. I wonder if they mean the “Republican Bush years?”
According to Medea Benjamin, founder of Code Pink, ” . . . most of the groups that existed before don’t exist anymore.” If opposition to war, and not politics, truly is the driving force behind these groups and their protests, there would be more reason than ever to protest now. Of course “principles” for these gallant folks is only a word to be used to secure political points against Republicans.
President Obama has stepped up unmanned aerial drone attacks to an unprecedented level, has failed to shut down Guantanamo Bay, has continued Bush’s policy of renditions, has doubled the number of troops in Afghanistan, has continued and increased the secret surveillance of US citizens under the Patriot Act and has supported indefinite detentions. Yet these groups who vigorously supported “Hope and Change” have hidden behind trees and bushes in your local urban area.
A study by two sociologists recently claimed that after President Obama’s election, participation at anti-war rallies “plummeted significantly,” although many of the same policies have been carried out under both the Bush and Obama administrations.
The war in Syria today is opposed by far more of the American people than the Iraq War ever was. Today 60% oppose military action in Syria, while in April 2003 a full 74 percent believed that the US made the right decision in using military force in Iraq.
Could it be, as an article in slate.com argues, that because of the videos that have gone viral showing the world the effects of the chemical weapons that many believe Bashar al-Assad has used on his own people, that protestors feel differently about this war? That this one doesn’t look like the war they believe Bush wanted to drag us into, that is–a war built on hyped-up intelligence that Bush had planned to get us involved in along? That Obama doesn’t look like he is inventing a reason to invade a country he has wanted to invade for years anyway?
Just one problem–public support for the Iraq invasion at the time of the mass protests was nearly four times greater than current support for a war in Syria, 74 percent v. 20 percent. Also, slate.com conveniently ignores the murders Sadam committed and ordered against his people or today’s despots who murder their people daily throughout the world.
While speaking to the anti-war protestors in New York in 2003, Desmond Tutu admonished President Bush to listen to the voice of the people, “for many times the voice of the people is the voice of God.”
Maybe that message for anti-war protestors goes in one ear and out the other. Principles are a funny thing. They only have lasting standing when you actually adhere to them. Apparently one of the only principled anti-war activist is actor John Cusack and he can’t figure out what the heck this administration is up too. Maybe he can join us and call out “come out, come out, wherever you are” to his hypocritical anti-war friends.