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Jewish World Review Jan. 23, 2003 / 20 Shevat, 5763

James Lileks

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People who'd volunteer for the Iraqi army if they saw Saddam wearing a "Free Mumia" button | Of all the absurdities on display in the Washington rally, one stands out: the organizers supported the massacre at Tienanmen Square.

True. Rally organizer ANSWER is a front for the Workers World Party. Their websites reveal them not only as Marxist-Leninists, but utter suck-ups to tyrants everywhere. Slobo? They love him. North Korea? They blame the US for famine, and want you, the taxpayer, to pay reparations to every victim of regime. These are the people who made the rallies happen - and their taint is now attached to everyone who marched beneath their banner.

Does this mean that all the protesters are Stalinists? No. Stalinist dupes, perhaps, but there's a difference. There are many good reasons to oppose the war: you're a pacifist, you think we should concentrate on terror cells instead of their sponsoring states, you're French and don't look forward to everyone learning that your company sold car batteries and leg clamps to Saddam's "Persuasion Brigade." You fret about the cost. You worry that the government has no plans for a post-Saddam political landscape. You worry that the war will destabilize the region. You worry that it won't. Reasonable people can hold principled objections. It seems odd we even have to point that out.

The reason it must be pointed out, however, is to remind these well-intentioned souls that their movement is becoming inextricably linked with people who'd volunteer for the Iraqi army if they saw Saddam wearing a "Free Mumia" button. That's the strain that has infected the "peace" movement - deluded, unfocused, addled by rage, and ferociously bitter because the frowsy mass of modern Americans won't join their moral betters and start hating America with their heart, brain, spleen, and larynx. This isn't the blame-America-first crowd. It's the destroy-America-first crowd.

ANSWER is the peace movement's Trent Lott. You want to assure the nation you're not all shrieking anarchists who think heaving a garbage can through a Starbucks window is a blow for world peace? Find a mike. Speak up.

The Democratic party, in short, has a problem with the antiwar crowd. For every hawkish Lieberman there seem to be two equivocating Daschles, a quisling Bonior and a blowhard Sharpton. When liberal celebs stammer out a litany of shopworn bleats about the Administration's attempt to turn America into a theocratic prison state, people can't help but notice that these buskers and mummers seem unmoved by the horrors of actual prison states. (Saddam commissioned a copy of the Qu'ran written in his own blood - but Ashcroft is the real religious nut, don't you know.) They preen like people of conscience speaking truth to power, but everyone knows they'll pay no price. If Martin Sheen had insisted that Bush was not only worse than Hitler but liked to spend his idle hours squashing ducklings and pretending they were Iraqi babies, he'd not only still be on prime time TV, he'd have a People magazine profile: "America's 'Other President' still feisty, unbowed."

Who wants to join these dismal souls? They might make you stand up and shout, but so does a bowl of hot soup in your lap. They're amusing fools; harmless, really, inasmuch as nothing they did will stop the war. Clueless, too - the very fact that Saddam saluted their efforts should have given them pause, but it didn't. They see themselves, as one reporter noted, as the heirs of Paul Wellstone, unsullied by politics, just pure-hearted people making a stand for peace. But Wellstone supported Clinton's war on Iraq in 1998. Wellstone supported a war to oust Milosovitch, a murdering thug ANSWER defends on their website. You want to ask his acolytes: Would Paul have attended the rally? If so, what does that say about him? If not, what does that say about you?

One more question. If you cannot publicly repudiate people in your ranks who prefer up Arafat, Saddam, Slobo and Kim Jong Il to Condi Rice and Colin Powell, why should we trust you with national security?

Sorry, sorry. There we go again, stifling dissent. Apologies, comrades. Ten Hail Lenins in penance.

JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


01/16/03:One of those head vs. heart things
12/27/02: Whistleblowers?
01/06/02: The second year of this jangled millennium
11/16/01: Attack of the 'Patriotism police' and other Hollywood fare
11/12/01: From the bleats of dismay
10/30/01: Osama and the Genie
10/08/01: "We can stop the Bush Death Juggernaut"
11/04/01: America, loathe or it leave it
09/25/01: Do the Europeans actually think that the war on murderous zealotry will be furthered by undercutting America?
08/27/01: If the economy is in a funk, why aren't we dancing?
08/14/01: Dubyah's embarrassing presidential vacation
08/10/01: Hail to our co-chiefs?
08/03/01: Constitution: George the Uniter picked a doozy to unify detractors
07/25/01: The real reason why we need missile defense (What those uppity policy wonks won't tell you!)
06/18/01: Paining the egalitarian soul
06/01/01: One of the stranger indexes you'll ever hear about
05/21/01: One man's toke is another man's snort
05/08/01: Republicans want poisoned water
04/23/01: We bleat as we're sheared
04/10/01: Boys will be boys. And that's the problem
04/06/01: Pity the anti-American Left, they're gonna have a hard time on this one
03/26/01: You've been warned
03/16/01: The GOP's inexplicable desire to fold
02/23/01: Will the Jeb Bush administration attack Saddam in 2011?
02/09/01: In search of the the first ashtray thrown by a member of the First Family
02/06/01: Can you say 'Ayatollah Bush'?
01/24/01: The new Executive Orders
01/22/01: Hey, Dubya: Wanna save Ashcroft? Teach him to rap!
01/09/01: Bubba gets his last licks
01/05/01: The low-down on the coming recession (What those snooty economists won't tell you)
12/23/00: Memo to Dubya: Wanna show who is boss? Nuke 'em!
12/06/00: The Count of Carthage
At the Sore/Loserman Transition HQ
12/01/00: The Count of Carthage
11/28/00: Clinton knows history isn't written by the victors anymore
11/17/00: Chad's the word
11/08/00: The strangest political night
11/07/00: Get ready to return to the Dark Ages

© 2003, James Lileks