Jewish World Review Oct. 31, 2002 / 25 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Zev Chafets

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Sharpton the patriot | Here's all you need to know about Saturday's "peace" demonstration near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. Al Sharpton was the most moderate, pro-American speaker there.

"We are the real patriots," he told the much-smaller-than-expected crowd. "We are the true face of America."

The patriots on the platform included a Fidel Castro mouthpiece who castigated the U.S. over something called "the Cuban Five"; a free-Nicaragua activist who denounced Israel and capitalism; a "proud immigrant" who attacked college tuition hikes as racist; the taped voice of convicted Philadelphia cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal; half a dozen apologists for Islamic terrorism; a stop-the-bombing-in-Vieques guy, and 9/11 conspiracy nut Cynthia McKinney.

The true face of America.

The rally was organized by Answer, a coalition put together by the International Action Center, which is, in turn, a front for the Workers World Party. This group is exactly what it sounds like.

The action center's supreme leader is Ramsey Clark, who told the crowd the U.S. is committing genocide and that President Bush is a war criminal. Not that there's anything wrong with that, in Clark's view. On Sunday, he explained to a TV interviewer that Saddam Hussein may have killed some people, but, "It takes a strong man to hold together a country like Iraq."

As Clark and the other patriots vented, people in the crowd started looking confused. They were there to give peace a chance, sure, and maybe let off a little steam at the Republicans, but very few actually believed Amerika is the enemy of humanity or Barbara Bush's son is another Hitler.

Sunday's papers reflected the confusion. We came out to say no to war, people told reporters. We're not behind that anti-American stuff.

But the anti-American stuff is the point. Clark and his comrades support Saddam for the same reason they support Cuba's Fidel Castro, Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic, Libya's Moammar Khadafy, the Palestinians' Yasser Arafat and every other revolutionary hero - because they hate this country and its values.

The center's whole raison d'etre is to make the world safe for what it calls "progressive dictatorships" until America becomes one.

That's where the war comes in. The center hopes to use it to recruit what Lenin called "useful idiots" - in this case, nostalgic hippies, Hollywood airheads, gullible psych majors and, in McKinney's phrase, the other "good people of America." There's nothing like an apple-cheeked Vermont grandma with a peace sign to put a Norman Rockwell face on a George Lincoln Rockwell movement.

The good news first: It won't work. Media coverage of the Washington rally barely mentioned its roster of toxic speakers, but sooner or later people will start paying attention. America has a limited appetite for the nastier varieties of revolution.

Clark and his band of sociopaths can't lead a genuine peace movement because they are so transparently rotten.

As a hawk, this should make me happy, but it doesn't. Wartime democracies need a loyal opposition. A large, pro-American peace movement would be a good tool for keeping the government honest as it pursues its (very justified) war against the Islamic Axis.

But right now there is no such thing, and there won't be until the Zionist conspiracy, Vieques and Mumia are off the agenda and Sharpton isn't the most reasonable guy on the platform.

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JWR contributor Zev Chafets is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

10/22/02: Rabin, gone but not missed
10/17/02: Israelis bracing for US' punch at Iraq
10/14/02: Geriatric war resisters
09/27/02: Al Gore: The Lost Boy of American politics
09/05/02: The intifadeh's over, and the Israelis won
08/29/02: At the world summit, just anger & hypocrisy
08/21/02: No time for weak knees on Iraq
08/16/02: A pro-Arab pol may get the beating she deserves
08/13/02: Fight it out now
08/02/02: Memo to The Council on Foreign Relations: U.S. values won't sell in Arab world
07/31/02: Israel's nutty neighbors

© 2002, NY Daily News