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Jewish World Review April 1, 2003 / 28 Adar II, 5763

John Leo

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Antiwar mongering | President Bush is Ahab, the mad captain in Moby Dick, according to David Ignatius of the Washington Post and Richard Gere of the Hollywood left's foreign desk. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman thinks Bush is Queeg, the mad captain of The Caine Mutiny. What's next, Captain Hook?

Then we have the constant Nazi references. Bush with a Hitler mustache. Picasso's painting guernica (the war in Iraq is like the Nazi obliteration of a defenseless village in Spain's civil war). The Pentagon cliche "shock and awe" becomes the Nazi word "blitzkrieg." One online leftist commentator asks, "Is Baghdad burning?"--meaning that Bush is doing to Baghdad what Hitler wanted to do to Paris: burn it to the ground. Krugman (again) implied that the pro-war man who rolled his tractor over some Dixie Chicks CDs is echoing either Kristallnacht or Nazi book burning.

"Peace" marches are even stronger on Nazi references. "Stop the Fourth Reich--Visualize Nuremburg," said one banner in a Hollywood march. "The Fuhrer, already in his bunker," said another. Ari Fleischer is compared to Goebbels, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to German Field Marshal Rommel.

A big problem with all the Hitler-Ahab rhetoric is that it is high on contempt and rage, leaving little room for any attempt to engage or persuade. Note that the depiction of the president as a deranged or Nazi paranoid is coming mostly from people who constantly tell us how passionately they oppose hate speech in all its forms. Also, the denunciation of Bush as Hitler is a favorite of people who shout "McCarthyism!" when anyone points out, accurately, that the antiwar movement has been organized by far-left activists who defend Mao, Castro, Milosevic, the mullahs of Iran, and the Stalinists of North Korea. The reason Bush is compared to Hitler so often is simple: All the other recent monsters are heroes to major antiwar organizers. The real Nazi. The Hitlerization of Bush is particularly outlandish since there already is a rather obvious Hitler figure in this drama. Saddam Hussein gouges out the eyes and cuts out the tongues of resisters--and their children. He drills holes in people's hands and pours acid into the holes. He rapes and tortures. Yet the "peace" and the human-rights movements are reluctant to notice. Sarah Baxter of Amnesty International points out that her group issued a "harrowing" indictment of Saddam's regime just before 9/11; then it instantly switched gears, deploring western leaders who mentioned all the Saddam Hussein terror that Amnesty had laboriously documented.

Like Amnesty International's downplaying of Saddam's terror, the peace movement was a direct and abrupt result of 9/11. A month ago, a Washington Post news report said this February's peace rallies were agreed upon at an international meeting two months earlier in Italy, "but their roots go back to the days just after Sept. 11, 2001, when activists say they began meeting to map out opposition to what they anticipated would be the U.S. military response to the terrorist at-tacks on New York and the Pentagon." In other words, the "peace" organizers were not responding to any Hitler-like actions by President Bush. They just didn't want the United States to defend itself.

Many "peace" marchers, of course, are not anti-American, just antiwar. That's the point of all the news articles saying the movement has "broadened," i.e., pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. However, we should all pay some heed to whom we hang out with. Blogger Tom Bevan put it nicely: "It matters a great deal who is organizing the protests. I don't absolve the `true' antiwar protesters for taking part in a march organized by American-hating groups any more than I'd absolve someone who marched in a legitimate protest of immigration laws if it was sponsored by the KKK."

Sometimes it seems the movement is determined to marginalize itself. The recent vomit-in by peacemongers in San Francisco is a perfect example. Throwing up on or near passers-by may be fun, but this is not a technique likely to attract converts. The same is true of antiwar banners that say things like: "We support our troops when they shoot their officers."

Even Michael Moore's harmless little outburst at the Oscars reflected this no-converts-please strategy. By arguing that Bush is a "fictitious president" and that his election was essentially a fraud, Moore in effect was saying he would rather keep the antiwar movement small and enraged than welcome any Bush voters to its ranks. He's got a strategy. It just isn't a very bright one.

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JWR contributor John Leo's latest book is Incorrect Thoughts: Notes on Our Wayward Culture. Send your comments by clicking here.


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