September 24, 2005

March of Fools and Greenpeace

Of course they descend on Washington today.

Its only fair. After all, the hurricane has been stealing their spotlight for near on three weeks by now. The little parade of Che tee shirts and catered vegan courses has been slowly winding its way across the greater United States, tempting the media, who’s gotten far more mileage out of weather catastrophes than mentally unstable women, with its patchouli scent and its promise of a second chance at protesting the last war.

Anti-war demonstrations are almost uniform, for all of their “non-conformist” attendees. Sure, they might switch it up a little bit—an “ironic” protest here, a more specifically directed protest (Arab-American Students Against US Hegemony in Basra) there—but by the end, they are the same teeming mass of under-informed, over-motivated conglomeration of leftover hippies, Ann Arbor residents, and college students who get course credit and one class off for annoying the crap out of Washington D.C. police in the name of world peace.

Within the protests are nearly always inherent contradictions (NARAL Members Against the Senseless Killing in Iraq), hangers on (Tell the Truth About Downing Street!), and people with a real grievance, but what is often lacking is a demand that can either be implemented or completely understood. Today’s protest will be (or will have been, depending on what time you are reading this) no exception, as people who oppose the was will join up with people who oppose just about everything else, block traffic for a few hours, and put on a pretty cool show for tourists.

Bush lied, people died. Its catchy, yes, but no longer relevant (incidentally, during the election, I had a button that said Kerry Lied While People Died (as in the whole Purple Heart business), and was asked repeatedly to take it off in local business as it was ‘offensive,’ but its okay to do it to Bush, right?). The mere fact that we are now long embroiled in the war makes how we got here the last question that needs to be asked. And how we’re getting out is probably better left to people with degrees in military strategy. Pull out? And then do what? Sit around and wait until they blow up the next high-rise office building?

Sure Iraq is a mess, but Iraq when it was stable wasn’t much of a walk in the park. When Iraq was stable it tried to attack Israel, it killed hundreds of thousands of its own people, restrained the freedom of its citizens and it sent condolence checks to the families of suicide bombers. Sure, we figured the answer to the problem of “stable Iraq” was to blow it out of existence, but that’s said and done now. Giving in and pulling out (even though I’m not exactly crazy about staying, either) gives Iraq back to the same people who made it a crap-hole to begin with. Smart choice, Cindy Sheehan. How many other innocent Americans have to die before people like you realize that you don’t live in an Earthly paradise where sitting at a UN bargaining table guarantees World Peace and everybody’s “American Dream” doesn’t involve standing in line waiting for medical care?

Those Miss America speeches about Building a Better World are always impressive until you realize that the pipe dream they are asking the contestants about is only that—a pipe dream. World Peace isn’t exactly on the horizon for Americans since, when you think about it, right now, Americans aren’t safe enough to even think about it. But of course, if you’d like to live like the people of Israel, fearing that every time you board public transportation, you’d have better said “I love you” to your mom, because you may never get off the bus, go right ahead. Just don’t do it in my country. And if you think they won’t follow you to wherever it is you decide to build your Socialist paradise, you’re wrong. Those that wish to obliterate the infidels from the face of this planet don’t hate us because our country voted for Bush, or because we used military force, or because we are the originating country for Coca-Cola. They hate you and me because we carry on our passports the nationality “American,” and no matter where you go, that is what you will always be. United we stand, Cindy. As a giant target. Whether you voted for George or not. Whether you blame George or not. And when the troops pull out and thousands are murdered, will the world look to Cindy Sheehan to explain? Probably not.

The strange thing about anti-war protests is that they are so often rife with a sense of victimhood. Everybody has a problem that everybody wants fixed. Everybody wants to be pleased, and everybody wants the government to please them. And everybody wants to blame somebody and everybody wants that somebody to take notice of their little public fit. These demonstrations are so often populated by people who are screaming and crying as if personally affected by the actions of the African World Bank. Certainly they are, but probably not in the way that they think they are, or that they wish they would be. Instead of facing the problems head on like adults, these teeming masses of angry youth are looking for someone to blame so that it isn’t them the blame falls on. But until then, they think they know how to fix it.

And they'll beat on bongo drums while they do it. And dance those weird stompy dances and light incense. And later tonight, the anarchists will set fire to something, maybe a flag. And the college co-eds will go home with what they felt was a memorable experience, and a sense of accomplishment.

As P.J. O’Rourke said, “what unites these people other than a general loser-ish quality? Or maybe it was only that. They’ve made every question a political question because in politics—as this political demonstration proved—there is no quality control. But [some] didn’t look like losers. That’s all right. Staking a claim to victimhood has value for even the most successful Americans. Witness Oprah, Rosie, the recent steel tariffs, a farm subsidy bill benefiting vast wheat and cotton plantations, and the complaints of the “sandwich generation,” moms pressed in their upper-middle class lives between the demands of spoiled young children and those of crabby affluent parents. Property rights are to be had in victimhood. Then there is the charm of a good tantrum—familiar to those of us with a three-year-old in the house. The less meliorable the cause of tears, the better that tantrum is.

Blame negates responsibility. “Who spilled Coca-Cola all over the Third World and crayoned on its walls?” “The World Bank did!”

The wonder is not that seventy-five thousand people showed up.

The wonder is that we all didn’t.”

Cross-posted at The American Princess.

Posted by E. M. Zanotti at September 24, 2005 05:03 PM

Don't miss Hitchens

Posted by: Fausta at September 27, 2005 09:56 AM

It looked more like 26,000 or so to me. About the same as would be found at RFK Stadium for a weeknight Nationals game.

Posted by: eLarson at September 28, 2005 07:27 AM