Jewish World Review Jan. 22, 2002/ 19 Shevat, 5763
The big gas attack
That was a motley crew down at the Navy Yard. Anyone
who sat through C-SPAN's telecast of Saturday's march
against the "war" on Saddam Hussein would have thought he
was watching a reprise of the '60s. C-SPAN, as it always
does, kept its eye on the podium.
A few of the "peace activists" in
the crowd did in fact look like they
had been here since 1969,
sleeping it off after rallying against
Ho Chi Minh. With their scraggly
beards, scuffed boots and
ferocious body odor, still searching
for the sex and revolution that has
successfully eluded them for these
past four decades, they were
pleased to finally have somewhere
But some of them appear to
have bathed once or twice in the
intervening years, and many of the
faces in the crowd glowed with the
genuine idealism and earnest expectation of youth.
Condoleezza Rice got it exactly right yesterday when she
observed that such protest, and the respectful attention it gets
from ordinary Americans, is what makes America the shining
city on the hill.
Many in the crowd clearly didn't come to Washington to
listen to the rants and rage on stage, and those who did could
shrug off the noise as the price of admission. But most of the
coverage, in the newspapers (which ought to know better)
and on television (which never understands the distinction
between news and entertainment), went along with the
charade that this was a mighty outpouring of national
The organizers pretended, like many of the young people,
to be something called "peace activists." But anyone who
remembers the demos of the '60s, when the crowds actually
did number in the hundreds of thousands, recognized the
organizers for who they really are, a collection of Karl
Marxists (now mostly stumbling into their eighth and ninth
decades), Groucho Marxists (who nurture the conceit that
most Americans are like themselves and thus see America as
worthy only of contempt), and assorted panhandlers, grifters
and beggars with a gift for haranguing the gullible.
But for C-SPAN's unblinking cameras, since nobody was
listening, nobody would have known that the speakers ranged
from partisan Democrats to spokesmen for Colombian
narco-terrorists to apologists for Palestinian suicide bombers
to friends of Osama bin Laden. Several of the speakers were
respectable, more or less. The Democratic Party's most
prominent theologians, the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse
Jackson, were there applauding Cynthia McKinney, until
November a member of Congress, who told the crowd: "In
no other country on the planet do so many people have so
little as they do in this country." (Small, chubby children in the
crowd, dreaming dreamy dreams of the supermarket
abundance in North Korea, Upper Volta and Lower
Slobbovia, tugged at their mamas' skirts and cried piteously
for more of the hot dogs, pizza, chicken wings and
chocolate-covered Krispy Kremes hawked to the crowd.)
Reps. Charley Rangel of New York and John Conyers of
Michigan were there, too, pushing their campaign to restore
the draft so every boy and girl in America can participate in
the war on terror. The participation of Messrs. Rangel and
Conyers was striking exposure of the agendas of both the
congressmen and the radical organizers of the march. They
understand very well that there will be no restoration of the
draft. This time it would have to include young women as
well, and there is no way the military could absorb millions of
conscripts, but talking about it might frighten the credulous.
The anti-war mobilization against the war in Vietnam, now
half-hidden in the mists of distant memory, was a dud armed
with a wet fuse in the early years of the war. Only when the
draft began to cast a shadow across the campus did young
men start looking for seminaries, library-science courses and
road maps to Canada. When Richard Nixon cut out the draft,
the anti-war protests dried up almost overnight. So much for
the idealism of the campus, circa 1971. So much for the
prospects of revival for the anti-war movement, circa 2003.
The "peace activists" of the present day can make their
mark, though it's not the mark they say they want to make.
Saturday's march hardly caused George W. to look up from
his newspaper, but it was enough to warm whatever Saddam
has in place of a heart. Saddam took note of the march
yesterday, praising the marchers for the expression of
worldwide support for himself and his regime of peace on
earth and goodwill to men.
The marchers effectively squelched talk of exile for
Saddam, as realistic as such talk may or may not have been.
As long as he thinks he has friends on the streets of America
and the West, he, too, can dream dreamy dreams.
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