War and Protests
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A few weeks ago, I received an unsolicited piece of e-mail advertising a pro-war rally to be held on the diag. After deleting the message, I promptly forgot all about it until I was walking across the diag a few days later on the way home from class and noticed a bunch of people standing around in a circle waving flags and passing out literature. A pro-war protest isn't something that you see every day around here, so I thought I would go grab my camera and take a few pictures, which can be viewed below.
Before I get to the pictures though, I would like to take a minute to explain my views on protests and protestors as they relate to the policies and government of the United States. The government of the United States of America is a government of the people, for the people and by the people. This means that it is inherently legitimate for Americans to express their opinions about the doings and plans of our government. How can it be "un-American" to urge the government to pursue a course of action when the right and responsibility of a citizen to do so is an integral part of our system of government?
We should not fall into the trap of restricting or condemning the right for people to express their views just because we find them offensive or disagree with them. After all, what good is it if people only have the freedom to express their views if those views are popular? As Teddy Roosevelt said during World War I, "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable." The exact same principle holds true today with our current war and current president.
Another important fact that many people have forgotten in recent days is that "Supporting the USA," "Supporting our Troops," and "Supporting a War with Iraq" are three completely different things. It is absolutely possible to support the USA, support our troops, and be against having a war with Iraq.
Here is how this is possible: A person decides that they think the United States should not fight a war with Iraq at the present time. It is then that person's right and duty to urge the government of the USA to not go to war with Iraq. While expressing their views against having a war, this person is also supporting the USA by performing their duty in helping to govern the country. At the same time, if the United States goes to war with Iraq despite the urgings of this citizen (as has happened in the current situation), the person may very well continue to wish that the USA were not at war. However, despite the fact that this person thinks that we should not be having a war, he almost certainly hopes that our troops complete their mission quickly, experience as few casualties as possible, and come home safely.
If you are in favor of the current war with Iraq, or if you are offended when you hear of people who are not in favor of the war, please keep this distinction in mind. Most protestors in this country are not "against" the USA. Virtually no-one in this country is "against" the men and women in our armed forces. In fact, almost everybody in this country - whether for or against the war - does support the USA and does support our actual troops. Some of them just also happen to think that we should not be having this war. With that said, here are some of the photos that I took of the dueling protests:
When I got back to the scene of the protests with my camera, a second crowd had formed to protest the people who were protesting in favor of having a war, and one or two of the pro-war protestors were busy mildly heckling the anti-war protestors:
Here we've got a nice view of the whole scene, the original pro-war protestors over there on the right, and the anti-war protestors protesting the pro-war protestors on the left:
The police really didn't have a whole lot to do at this particular rally:
Now there's a surprise: Fox News covering a pro-war event? Really, who would have thought...
The pro-war protestors:
That guy over there on the right doesn't look very happy...
If you don't want your picture taken, then what are you doing standing in the middle of a public protest?
Mind you this was before the war had begun, so it seems to me that having the war would be more likely to lead to the killing of our troops than protesting it, but I guess that's only one way of looking at it...
You don't see people dressed like this around here every day...
And the anti-war protestors: