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Jewish World Review May 2, 2003 / 30 Nissan, 5763

Tom Purcell

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Teaching the Iraqis how to protest | "Now that Iraq is a free country, your people are going to have to learn how to protest properly."

"Protest properly?"

"Yes, protesters should NEVER shoot at American soldiers, as those soldiers are absolutely going to fire back in self defense."

"Ah, you are referring to recent incidents in which some who protest for Americans to leave Iraq have begun firing at soldiers."


"So if we are to become a thriving democracy like America, then we must learn how to protest like Americans? How does this protesting work in America?"

"In America, our Constitution includes specific rights to allow protesting. The First Amendment protects the right to freedom of expression."

"Freedom of expression?

"Yes, freedom of expression includes freedom of speech, press and assembly. In other words, we can say what we want, write what we want and gather together in large groups to celebrate, worship or protest."

"Wow, we could never do this under Saddam."

"In America, we have a long history of protesting. In fact, the people who founded our country were protesters."


"Absolutely. America used to be a British colony and Americans greatly disliked the high taxes and bureaucratic regulations the British imposed on us, especially since we had no say in what the taxes or regulations were. Our founders called this 'taxation without representation.'"

"So what happened?"

"We protested. When the British passed the Tea Act, which gave a foreign tea company a monopoly on the tea trade in the American colonies, a group of Americans dressed as Mohawks dumped a bunch of tea into the Boston Harbor."

"Why they dress like native Americans?"

"Beats me. Anyhow, we have a rich tradition of protesting in America. Virtually every war has been protested, both pro and con. Great thinkers like Henry Thoreau wrote on civil disobedience. And as a result, Americans have gathered into large crowds to protest, pro and con, a number of important issues over the years."

"This sounds very amazing. So what steps can Iraqi people take to begin protesting like Americans do?"

"Well, to carry on like some protesters currently do, the first thing you'll want to do is get organized. Protest groups today make use of the Internet and e-mail to efficiently gather large groups that draw the largest amount of media attention."

"Can you give example?"

"Take the World Trade Organization. The WTO regulates trade among its 135 member nations. Their goal is to promote free and fair trade around the world."

"Why anyone want to protest people trying to make world more prosperous?"

"Good question. Some people feel that the WTO favors America and large corporations. So animal rights groups join with environmentalists, anti-capitalists and a wide range of other groups to protest every time the WTO has a big meeting."

"But is this effective way to make voice heard?"

"It's certainly not perfect. During the last WTO protests in Seattle, some anti-capitalist protesters printed up fake dollar bills and scattered them in the streets. An environmental group went ballistic, denouncing the anti-capitalists for killing trees and littering."

"Some country, America."

"And the anarchists love a good protest. They usually join in and cause all kinds of problems. See, some people don't believe it is enough to march peacefully, carry signs and posters and give speeches."

"What you mean?"

"During the recent anti-war protests in many cities across America, the protesters did everything they could to disrupt commerce and traffic and shut everything down. When the WTO last met in Washington, some protesters stated it as their goal to damage property."

"But why protesters want to do so much damage? Does this not overshadow the message they are trying to call attention to?"

"Of course it does. It takes attention away from the legitimate protesting that is attempting to raise important and genuine issues that all Americans should be thinking about. Instead, the bad apples make all the protesters look like fanatics and extremists and none of their messages are heard."

"Just as is case in Iraq. When the more fanatical elements fire on American soldiers to make them leave, they are only demonstrating to world that American soldiers need to stay to keep order. We have much to learn about this protesting."

"And so do we."

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04/25/03: Iraqi TV
04/21/03: Explaining Democracy to the Iraqis
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04/04/03: War humor
03/31/03: Dolphins, PETA and the USA
03/21/03: Traffic Wars
03/14/03: Ronald Reagan's St. Patrick's Day
03/03/03: My Family's Tragic Secret: We're French
02/21/03: I'm worried about my people
02/14/03: George Washington Makeover
02/07/03: Making quiet sacrifices
01/24/03: "Gimme the, goo-goo, gah-gah, remote!"
01/21/03: "Misunderestimated"
01/10/03: Republican night life
01/06/03: Exercise pills
12/31/02: They provide unending joy to those who are wise enough to let them in
12/13/02: Hurried Man Syndrome
12/06/02: In DC, snowstorms have important ramifications --- or, at least, they should
11/26/02: Police advertising
11/15/02: An Interview with Osama
11/01/02: How to vote in America
10/25/02: On edge in Washington, D.C
10/11/02: Giving new meaning to "selling your body"
10/04/02: Bush's Angels
09/27/02: Conservatives, Liberals, Dick Armey and Barry Manilow
09/20/02: Are SUV drivers are the new GOPers?
09/13/02: Bubba is Dubya's man
09/06/02: The Freedom to Picnic
08/16/02: Ah, the $izzle of anti-terrorist pork
08/09/02: Vacationless prez and gutless Americans
07/26/02: Study gives women permission not to hide their emotions
07/15/02: Patriot food
06/28/02: Eavesdropping on a San Fran classroom
06/21/02: The crowded skies
06/14/02: Contemporary Father's Day: A conversation for the ages
06/07/02: Legal rights for animals?
05/19/02: Advice for prom goers this year: Hold onto your money
05/10/02: Don't take her for granted
05/03/02: Letter to the parents of a tubby teen
04/26/02: Zacarias Moussaoui gets expert legal advice

© 2002, Tom Purcell