Wednesday, September 28, 2005

While I was out Pt. 2: War Is Not the Answer. Neither is A.N.S.W.E.R.

If you missed it, there was an anti-war rally in Akron to echo the rally in Washington. I missed it. Although I am active in the lead organization -- Summit County Progressive Democrats -- sudden family obligations kept me away.

I checked out the BJ front first thing Sunday for coverage. Most disappointing. If you read the story quickly you may have missed the mention of the Akron event altogether. The two references:

War protesters from Akron and across the nation gathered Saturday near the White
House to send what the Rev. Jesse Jackson called a message of hope, not fear.

Local protesters said they are tired of the war and the Bush

"I believe in peace and not violent conflict,'' said Cat Givens of New
Franklin. "This Iraq war was wrong in the beginning. It's obviously wrong now.
It needs to end.''

The Rev. John Beaty of Akron, a retired United Methodist pastor, said the
war is ``the most blatant example of the incompetence and the arrogance of the
Bush administration.''

From these passages, you wouldn't necessarily know that a separate event occurred here in Akron. It sounds like the reporter just tailed Akronites in Washington.

On the other hand, that may not be an entirely bad thing. The march, it appears, was a honey trap staged by International A.N.S.W.E.R. ANSWER is, at the least, an old-style international socialist organization that has been accused of sympathizing with such luminaries as Slobodan Milosovich and Kim Jong Il. Rather than hash out what others have accused ANSWER of, just check out the announcement of the march on their website:

Thousands will march on
Saturday, September 24 in Washington DC. The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition urges the
antiwar movement to come together for a united demonstration to say
Stop the War in Iraq
End Colonial Occupation from Iraq to Palestine to Haiti
Support the Palestinian People’s Right of Return
Stop the Threats Against Venezuela, Cuba, Iran & North Korea
U.S. Out of the Philippines
U.S. Out of Puerto Rico
Bring all the troops home now
Stop the Racist, anti-Immigrant and anti-Labor Offensive at Home, Defend Civil Rights
Military Recruiters Out of Our Schools and Communities

Let's look at a few of these, shall we? Speaking of the the "colonial occupation" of Haiti -- in fact a UN peacekeeping mission attempting to end decades of political slaughter -- equates any US action with colonialism. Support for Palestinian Right of Return is tantamount to calling for the destruction of Israel. Stopping the threats against criminal regimes in Iran and North Korea would be criminally irresponsible. One can debate the merits of the current mix of sticks and carrots, but only a radical pacifist or a radical socialist would argue against any stick at all. This is old-school America hating on a level that would give Howard Zinn pause. Jeane Kirkpatrick wasn't wrong about the existence of a blame-America-first crowd, she was simply wrong in locating them in the mainstream of the Democratic party.

ANSWER is a viral organization. It publicizes rallies like that in DC as against the Iraq war, hiding its broader radical agenda within. Sure enough, the event stage was site of hard left America bashing and little else. Predictably the right-wing blogosphere is all over it. I won't bother to link to specific sites, but check out a Technorati search of "International A.N.S.W.E.R."

On the Left some good posts -- one before and one after the event -- on Daily Kos called ANSWER on its crap. The resultant comments are depressingly mixed, reminding me why I no longer frequent the site. Liberal Hawk Christopher Hitchens predictably glosses the entire protest based on the ANSWER affiliation, but honest debate left his building long ago.

The point is we need to say that no tent is big enough for mainstream liberals and the likes of ANSWER. They are not against war; they just like the other side better. I got over that "America is the greatest oppressor" crap in college. The left as a whole needs to do the same. Unconvinced? Check out some sage advice from George Will:
If liberals think that such flirtations with fanaticism had nothing to do with their 2004 defeat, they probably have nothing to learn from what conservatives did four decades earlier. But for the record:

In the 1960s, just as conservatism was beginning to grow from a fringe tendency into what it has become -- the nation's most potent persuasion -- it was threatened by a boarding party of people not much, if any, loonier than Sheehan. The John Birch Society, whose catechism included the novel tenet that Dwight Eisenhower was an agent of the Kremlin, was not numerous -- its membership probably never numbered more than 100,000 -- but its power to taint all of conservatism was huge, particularly given the media's eagerness to abet the tainting. Responsible conservatives, especially William F. Buckley Jr. and his National Review, repelled the boarders, driving them into the dark cave where today they ferociously guard the secret of their size from a nation no longer curious about it.

One of Liberalism's greatest strengths is its respect for diversity of opinion, but we can't let that be our undoing as well. Next time ANSWER calls, put away the ten-foot poles and just walk away.