Meta-Blog

SEARCH QandO

Email:
Jon Henke
Bruce "McQ" McQuain
Dale Franks
Bryan Pick
Billy Hollis
Lance Paddock
MichaelW

BLOGROLL QandO

 
 
Recent Posts
The Ayers Resurrection Tour
Special Friends Get Special Breaks
One Hour
The Hope and Change Express - stalled in the slow lane
Michael Steele New RNC Chairman
Things that make you go "hmmmm"...
Oh yeah, that "rule of law" thing ...
Putting Dollar Signs in Front Of The AGW Hoax
Moving toward a 60 vote majority?
Do As I Say ....
 
 
QandO Newsroom

Newsroom Home Page

US News

US National News
Politics
Business
Science
Technology
Health
Entertainment
Sports
Opinion/Editorial

International News

Top World New
Iraq News
Mideast Conflict

Blogging

Blogpulse Daily Highlights
Daypop Top 40 Links

Regional

Regional News

Publications

News Publications

 
The hollow core of the anti-war movement
Posted by: McQ on Monday, October 03, 2005

Presented as an observation with which I pretty much concur, Lawrence Kaplan does a nice take-down of the current version of the anti-war crowd in this week's New Republic [subscription only]. His opinion: pretty much every thing there but an anti-war movement:
Part thirty-fifth college reunion and part flea market for the disaffected, where the sheer number of grievances on offer overwhelmed the only one that counted, what Washington endured this weekend wasn’t exactly an antiwar march. It was anti-everything: Israel, the U.S. military, capitalism, colonialism,Wal-Mart. If anything, the march created the impression of a country so far removed from the war in Iraq that even the antiwar movement can’t be bothered to demonstrate against it.
What passes for an anti-war movement is simply a motley collection of radical protesters which show up for every protest under the sun, as long as it's anti-establishment. These are the same folks seen at the G8 summits, Earth Day, and the World Bank meetings. In each place the collection puts forward that portion of the group that most epitomizes the particular cause of that protest. The rest simply mouth the platitudes while pushing their particular agenda.
Fringe issues, however, dominate the day. Where the Vietnam antiwar movement focused directly on the war, with parts of it evolving over time into a broader indictment of “the system,” today’s march walks backward, addressing a litany of pet causes before it even gets to Iraq. The list of indictments—which can be sampled at the Palestine tent, the Counter-Military Recruitment tent (motto: “An Army of None”), and the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador booth (cispes is still at it!)—dilute the message, creating the feel of a comic-book convention rather than a popular movement. Roger Yates, a demonstrator from Martinsburg, West Virginia, becomes so frustrated with the protest’s incoherence that he grabs a bullhorn, jumps on a newspaper vending machine, and beseeches the marchers to remember why they came in the first place. “One thousand different causes won’t hurt Bush,” he yells. “If we don’t focus on Iraq, it’ll be like we were never here!”
Well yeah, and for most people, they may as well have not been there for all the impact they made. While the media and the talking heads have made much of the 100,000 who showed up, most Americans recognize the group that showed up for what it is: the fringe. And they also recognize they've seen these people before, for years and years, at every protest imaginable.

As for the real anti-war folks, Kaplan quotes Tod Gitlan with a cautionary point:
Antiwar movements boast a long history of undercutting their own aims. Public opinion polls from the Vietnam era, such as a December 1969 Gallup survey that found 77 percent of respondents disapproved of antiwar demonstrations, underscore movement leader Todd Gitlin’s recollection that, “As unpopular as the war had become, the antiwar movement was detested still more—the most hated political group in America.”
That's how I remember it. But then I'm a little prejudiced.
 
TrackBacks
Return to Main Blog Page
 
 

Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
You are failing to distinguish between what happened on the stage and what happened in the crowd. Yes, those on stage did represent causes that had nothing to do with the war. But the crowd seemed and looked fairly suburban, edcuated, middle of the road type people. It’s a distincition most commenters failed to make.

There is a desire on the part of war supporters to characterize those against the war as part of some lunatic fringe. It’s an understandable tendency, given how poorly things are going in Iraq. Rather than candidly acknowledging that Bush is losing the war, those who thought going into Iraq wasn’t a mistake instead attempt to shift the focus to the war’s critics.

Your quote from Gitlin is inapposite. There really is no strident anti-war movement of any significant size. There is nothing for the right to punch at. Instead, the anti-war feelings in the US right now are much more subtle and nuanced and low-key, for the most part. Average people get mad when they are told that money is being spent on a bunch of ungrateful Iraqis when it is needed at home, especially for hurricane relief. People wonder what good the war is if gas prices keep going up. People do not see and end to the war. And most people who feel this way are not marching in the streets or appearing on stage at a rally.

Most people think the war is a mistake. And that feeling is not going to change no matter how many Sandinistas stand on a stage yelling at George Bush.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
You are failing to distinguish between what happened on the stage and what happened in the crowd. Yes, those on stage did represent causes that had nothing to do with the war. But the crowd seemed and looked fairly suburban, edcuated, middle of the road type people. It’s a distincition most commenters failed to make.

Actually Kaplin notes the demographics in the first paragraph of his piece:
Yes,as I traverse the Mall on Saturday, I cannot escape 13- and 14-year-old girls with peace signs (and the occasional Mercedes logo) painted on their cheeks.This odd demographic probably has something to do with the overrepresentation of a second group: demonstrators in their forties, too young to have protested the war in Vietnam but too old to be wearing their children’s face paint, which many of them do anyway. But there are also veterans of the Vietnam-era protest movement here, legions of whom turn out to hold banners aloft and to listen to Joan Baez warble, “Where have all the flowers gone?” In fact, the only group visibly
underrepresented at the march seems to be the very group that once upon a time dominated such events: college-age demonstrators.

The absence of what has traditionally been the vanguard of U.S. protest politics—by my rough count, only one in a dozen demonstrators appears to fit the bill—points to a hollowness at the core of the antiwar movement.
Or said another way, the heart and soul of what made the last effective anti-war movement a viable movement is missing completely from this one.

I mean, who’s going to takes seriously a bunch who can’t distinguish between a Mercedes logo and peace sign?

There is a desire on the part of war supporters to characterize those against the war as part of some lunatic fringe. It’s an understandable tendency, given how poorly things are going in Iraq. Rather than candidly acknowledging that Bush is losing the war, those who thought going into Iraq wasn’t a mistake instead attempt to shift the focus to the war’s critics.

ANSWER is mainstream? The Socialst Worker’s Party is mainstream? Cynthia McKinney and Maxine Waters are mainstream (they’re the only congressional members to show up)? Seems like it’s a self-characterization vs. one put on it by others.

And of course your usual dumb and unsupportable rhetoric about Iraq aside, no one is trying to shift focus off of anything. As pointed out at the beginning, it’s obvious that this movement has no real heart or soul.

Your quote from Gitlin is inapposite. There really is no strident anti-war movement of any significant size.

That’s correct, but that doesn’t change how it is perceived now or was then. So the quote is quite appropriate. And the quote wasn’t "from me". It was from Kaplan also who found it appropriate. As with most on the left, you’d like to forget inconvenient history. Well, there it is, that’s history.

There is nothing for the right to punch at. Instead, the anti-war feelings in the US right now are much more subtle and nuanced and low-key, for the most part.

Maybe there’s nothing much to punch at because we keep punching at it. And reminding people of the damage it did the last time this occurred. Maybe, just maybe, it’s working. Horrifying thought, huh MK?

Most people think the war is a mistake. And that feeling is not going to change no matter how many Sandinistas stand on a stage yelling at George Bush.

Well two differences between now and then. No draft (that takes the self-interest out of the protests and is precisely why you see the major demographic missing which drove the VN protests). No quit: While many might think the war was a mistake, most want us to finish the job. Because unlike you, they don’t try to forget history and live to repeat it. They perfer to learn from it and not repeat the mistake of abandoning a committment. They understand the horrific damage that sort of thing causes for decades.

Oh, and while the majority of the country, per polls, may think the war was a mistake, the majority of those fighting it think its the right thing to do and believe they’re winning it. Guess who I’m inclined to side with?

Go figure.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Most people think the war is a mistake.
McQ handled the rebuttal to this, but to forestall a lot of floundering in the future, I’d like to ask a question.

Are there any conceivable future outcomes in which you would concede that the war was not a complete failure? For example, would any of the following do? Or any combination of them?

1. By the end of Bush’s term, the insurgency in Iraq has faded to committing less than 10% of the violent deaths as it has in the last few months, Iraq has a confirmed constitition under which free elections have been held, and the US military presence is at least 30% less than it is today.

2. In five years, Iraq has a stable democracy that has gone through at least one election in which the leader changed peacefully, and rates from violent death committed for political reasons are less than 5% of those from Saddam Hussein’s era.

3. In ten years, at least two other Middle Eastern countries (from the group including Egypt, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon) have held open and free elections, and seen a peaceful transition of power to a new leader.

If none of these will do, what conditions would you set? Note that total withdrawal in the short term cannot be considered a success by any rational person if it leads, as it probably will and as it did in Vietnam, to tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of deaths and an eventual re-institution of dictatorship in Iraq.

Here’s the story. If you can’t tell me what your success metrics are, then you’re just carping for the sake of carping. You’re letting your personal distaste with a leader and his policies put you into the psychological position of a two-year-old who has had a toy taken away from him, and has taken to just shouting "Give it back! You’re mean! I hate you!" As such, you are not to be taken seriously by anyone wishing an adult discussion of the matter at hand.

If you can at least tell us what you consider "success" to be, we can see whether you are living in fantasy land or within shouting distance of the real world. If all you do is dwell on the past, and shout "failure, failure!", with absolutely no guidance on what to do from here, you are carping, and deserve to be ignored or ridiculed.

And from what I’ve seen, you’ve never been willing to be pinned down on what you think success would be like, or what we ought to do from this point. I think it’s because you realize, at some level, how silly you would look if you told us what you really think about either of those subjects. (If I’m wrong, and you’ve ever clearly set those things out for discussion, I’d be happy to look at them, and withdraw that remark.)
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
What are you rebeling against?

What have you got?

Yawn
 
Written By: McQ2
URL: http://
It is interesting to me the attempts by those who support the President and this war to try desperately to push aside those who do not.

There have been numerous negative comments made in attempts to marginalize those Americans who are against the war.

I’m old enough to have been around during Vietnam, in fact my Husband is a Vietnam vet. Having lived through that terrible time in our history, I saw before we even entered into this fiasco what would happen.

I attended the first anti-war rally in October of 2002, before the war even began. I along with a number of others I met there, also my age, some young people in their 30’s, and numerous others, had come to their very first demonstration.

Were there some there who had demonstrated at numerous other events. Sure, but simply demonstrating at other events does not indicate they are wrong. More, it demonstrates they CARE!

I did not attend this most recent event, nor have I attended any of the other large events by the groups leading this event. But I know a number of people who did, and for them, it was again their first event, or, their first large event. They too spoke with numerous others who were attending for the very first time.

The interesting thing is, that if you believe that over 250,000 Americans are out there demonstrating at numerous events regularly, why is it we don’t hear about it?

Is our media that inept?

This article is obviously an attempt to discredit the majority of Americans, because the counter demonstration the day following was almost 100,000 times smaller than the day before.

So, who is the majority and who is the minority. The anti-war or pro-war/pro-Bush group?
 
Written By: Thinker67
URL: http://
Thinker67, it is the anti-war movement that is desperate. They employ celebrities that promise to sing if you show up. They invite actors to use their star power to draw people in. They have professional protesters, and they accept the support of pro-communists, anti-Americans, anarchists, and race baiters. The anti-war movement push lies, exaggerations, mischaracterizations, Vietnam era metaphors, and vitriol. That’s not a serious movement, that’s desperation, and it’s the desperation of the no longer needed liberal movement.
Look how silly the anti-war protesters act; they cover themselves in red paint and block traffic, they destroy effigies of the president and Co. while burning and stomping on the American flag, they right nasty signs that personally attack the president, and most of you apparently don’t know the first thing about history.
If you’d (as a reprehensive of the movement) like to be taken seriously here’s my suggestion: Don’t turn it into a concert, that’s cheating. Get rid of the actors, they’re professional pretenders and don’t walk the talk. How gullible does someone have to be to believe actors aren’t acting up on stage? To actors, you’re nothing but a good career move. They come down from one of their six mansions, in one of their 30 cars (the only hybrid one), and tell you how to live and what to think; as if graduating from acting school put them in the know.
Don’t attack people personally, especially the commander-in-chief who’s most important responsibility is keeping you and me safe. All you do is embarrass your country. You don’t like the way he does it? Fine, but acknowledge his intention or at least his responsibility. Oh, and please drop the 17 different conspiracy theories the left believe we invaded Iraq for. They have more conspiracies than Bush has justifications.
It’s time for liberals to take a long look in the mirror and look at what that "super-cool" anti-war movement during Vietnam lead to, as well as all your other movements. Face it, you all smoked too much pot and believed your far-out discussions were based somewhere in reality. Accept responsibility for the millions of Asians murdered upon our withdrawal, accept responsibly for the current state of Southeast Asia, and especially take responsibility for how you treated your fellow Americans when they returned from fighting for your freedom.
The liberal movement must take responsibility for their part in our involvement in the Middle East as well. If it weren’t for the liberal movement we might have had our own oil, we might have had more of our own refineries, and maybe we could have even had a few new nuclear reactors. As a country we now need the middle east. If you’d taken a lesson out of history you’d realize that Japan attacked us because of oil, that’s how important the stuff is. Your "War for Oil" was in part brought about by your rabid environmentalism. How about taking responsibility for that? The problem with liberals, and specifically the anti-war movement, is that they never look back, they never examine the results, and they never take responsibility...for anything.
Here’s an example of how shallow liberal thought is. I saw this written on a bumper sticker, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”. That’s the liberal movement; shallow thought supported by shallow slogans.

 
Written By: NoBS
URL: http://

 
Add Your Comment
  NOTICE: While we don't wish to censor your thoughts, we do blacklist certain terms of profanity or obscenity. This is not to muzzle you, but to ensure that the blog remains work-safe for our readers. If you wish to use profanity, simply insert asterisks (*) where the vowels usually go. Your meaning will still be clear, but our readers will be able to view the blog without worrying that content monitoring will get them in trouble when reading it.
Comments for this entry are closed.
Name:
Email:
URL:
HTML Tools:
Bold Italic Blockquote Hyperlink
Comment:
   
 
Vicious Capitalism

Divider

Buy Dale's Book!
Slackernomics by Dale Franks

Divider

Divider