The quote attributed to Babak Sekandari on page 5 of the Thursday paper epitomizes what I think is the ignorant, dogmatic, and heavily predictable view that much of the left has adopted lately. Let me copy Mr/Ms Sekandari's statement (in which he/she discusses his/her thoughts on the Bush Administration) for your convenience:
"I think I'm tempted to use the word 'evil' to describe them. They definitely give me the creeps. They are cold-hearted, calculated villains interested in the bottom-line, which is the dollar. They say they are trying to reverse racism [in Iraq]. Their hidden agenda is that they are racist and willing to do horrible things for corporations."
Good grief. THIS is enlightenment? Mr/Ms Sekandari gives ME "the creeps". It's laughable, of course, almost a charicature, but it makes one wonder why Lauren Grimm would choose this quote in particular at all. Did NOBODY else have ANYTHING more reasonable or intelligent to say? What does Mr/Ms Sekandari's silly paranoia about the Bush administration being "cold-hearted" and "calculating" have to do with an anti-regime change rally, and why did we have to read about his/her anti-corporate tendency? Can Ms Grimm possibly believe this article paints the anti-regime change folks in a favorable light?
Why do the signs held by protestors always contain such trite, tired mantras as "drop Bush not bombs", "we don't want your oil war", and my personal favorite, "peace in our time"?
Can you imagine a protest sign reading "I understand your viewpoint and the perspective from which you arrived at it, however, I'd like to sit down with you and through logic, reason and facts, try and convince you of the merit of another view"? I can't either. I'm not sure a "peace" protestor is capable of thinking this way. You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.
Your newspaper mentioned not a word about the great number of people who SUPPORT a regime change administered by force. Until recently, I was not convinced myself that we should invade right at this moment, for a few reasons. But there's a fundamental difference between someone who can have a give and take conversation on the pros and cons of this action or that action, and an irrational, emotional protestor having a public temper tantrum. Some folks believe war NEVER solves anything, that force is NEVER necessary, that military action is NEVER justified. Perhaps if we appease them enough, they won't hurt us. Maybe if we ignore them, they'll go away and nothing bad will come of it in the future.
Near the end of the article, Mr/Ms Sekandari admonishes us to not let our "fear" stop us from walking out. It won't be my fear that will be keeping me and all of the classmates I've spoken with sitting in our desks at noon on Wednesday. In fact, it strikes me as odd that there would be any "fear" of protesting at all. If the NT Daily is to be believed, the vast majority of students are rabid anti-regime change activists.
It seems the bolder statement here would be to voice a dissenting opinion: Saddam is a ruthless dictator and human rights abuser who's poisoned, tortured and killed his people by the thousands and whose dreadful fiscal policies and iron fist of rule is choking Iraqi society to death; he was ordered to destroy his WMDs fifteen days after the withdrawal in 1991 and has been flaunting his complete non-cooperation to the spineless UN for twelve years; he is KNOWN to have the facilities, expertise, and ambition to develop a number of different types of weapons of mass destruction; he has been playing "hide-the-missile" for too long; we cannot simply sit back and let Saddam amass more power, or appease him with softball inspections, or poke our heads in the sand and wish it would all just go away; it is time for a change of regime, a liberation of some of the world's most oppressed people, and a confirmation that when the US and the UN resolve to do something, there's actually something more than pretty words behind it. I'm sorry the world isn't always fuzzy and peaceful, that sometimes good people have to fight for things. But that's the way it is.
The irony in Mr/Ms Sekandari's vote of confidence is that the NT Daily is actually PRESSURING students to think a certain way and to PARTICIPATE in this "walk out". The pressure to CONFORM is overt and palpable. There's little room for any independent thought. I hope this is clear to some of the students who may be confused or "on the fence". I hope when the Thursday paper is published, it is noted that many of those who participated in the ersatz walk out did so only because of pressure exerted by peers, professors, and the newspaper, or to jump on the newest bandwagon, or just as an excuse to skip out on class; and I hope it is noted that many who stayed in their seats did so not out of "fear", but as a silent vote FOR the use of military force. The NT Daily's liberal slant is showing, and boy is it ugly.
I submit that many of the people involving themselves in the protests just want a cause. They want their OWN Vietnam to rebel against so they can place some meaning into their lives. There are many people who celebrate this type of activity as a way to feel valid... to feel like that they are making some sort of difference and attaching a significance to their otherwise dull lives. Their cause is one rooted in self-importance rather than knowledge of the events that they profess to be upset with and claim to rebel against. Nevermind they don't even really understand the issues at hand, they don't know what Iraq and its leaders have been involved with or what crimes they have committed over the past decade and they don't have a clue why any of this is going on. It's much more fun to grab some markers, slap some witty phrase onto a bit of cardboard, and parade around feeling as though they're bigger than they actually are. It's a great social gathering. And much of this may not even be opposition to the acts per se, but simply a Pavlovian response to the fact that it is Bush proposing and promoting it. If a "conservative" is doing it, it must be bad, while if a "liberal" says something, it must be good. But it's in no way a considered response.
I'll let you in on a little secret. The only way this military action isn't going to happen is if Saddam makes a wholesale confession, opens his facilities and stores for all the world to see, and demonstrates to everyone's satisfaction that he's thoroughly destroyed every weapon and every means of making a weapon. This is what he was ordered to do all those years ago. What does protesting accomplish? It EMBOLDENS Saddam to continue doing what he's been doing all along, which is defying the UN and the US and playing games with the so-called "inspectors". In effect, mass protestation ensures war will occur.
If I ever saw a protestor carrying a sign with a message urging Saddam to just open his facilities and let the world have at it for the sake of "peace", I would have seen a person who had actually taken a few minutes out to THINK, INDEPENDENTLY, about things. I'll never see it. It's too difficult. Bush-bashing and feel-good "peace" sentiments (despite the fact that most don't have a clue how peace is actually secured out in the real world or the price that must often be paid for it) are utterly effortless dispositions to adopt.
This article isn't the first of its type to appear in the NTDaily. I was a little more amused by an article a week or two ago advising us in detail on just how to dodge the draft, should it be reinstituted, during the semester and between semesters. By the end of that piece, I had the feeling the writer wished there WERE a draft, so that she could rally more students to go out and hold signs bearing caustic messages and chant pithy little rhymes.
Ms Grimm ends her column by quoting Mr/Ms Sekandari one more time. A reference to Hitler is made. At this point, you almost feel for Ms Grimm... unless she's cleverly crafting satire. If there is a "Hitler" in all of this, it is surely Saddam Hussein. I'm not saying the label fits perfectly. But consider the atrocities Saddam is guilty of, and his aspirations, and then take another look at the adjectives Mr/Ms Sekandari uses to describe the Bush Administration. Saddam's regime is and has been a nexus for "evil" activities. And his people, whose welfare folks like Mr/Ms Sekendari seem to have absolutely NO regard for, are first and foremost the victims of that.
But in the end, we are lucky to live in a country where such inflammatory political speech as that which will be shouted on Wednesday and beyond is not punishable by imprisonment or death. It's a shame that freedom, and the fact that that freedom exists, has been taken for granted by an entire generation. It's a shame that a love of liberty and a recognition of its price has taken a back seat to incendiary rhetoric and anti-US sensationalism. It's a shame people of nations such as Iraq have never known a fraction of what we feel are basic human rights. And some people apparently would like it to stay that way.
The war is probably going to happen, walk out or no walk out. The thought in the military world is that with most of the 4th Infantry's stuff still in ships waiting for the Turks to agree to the cover charge for us to use their bases, the war is probably still at least ten days away...