Finally, peace groups are changing their protest strategy. Instead of running massive protests once in a while, they are planning for large but somewhat smaller protests on a more regular basis. On September 15, ANSWER will be protesting in Washington D.C. which will be followed by a September 29th protest sponsored by Troops Out Now. Then on October 27, United For Peace And Justice will be running protests in 10 locations to be named later.
A large counterdemonstration is being planned for the September 15th protest by The Gathering Of Eagles. These Warniks have as their stated purpose to protect the Vietnam Memorial from being desecrated. But having seen how some of these Warniks interact with us Peacenics, I can assure you that there will be other confrontations. And because of how some of us Peacenics respond to instigations, perhaps now is the time for us to prepare for possible conflicts by reflecting on what is important and how we are different from them. Three differences that I have noticed between us Peacenics and them Warniks are our views on: the need to abolish war, American Exceptionalism, and the reason for terrorism.
Those advocating peace want to eradicate war for several reasons. Some believe that all violence is wrong. Others see the abolishment of war as necessary for survival. The latter view was the sentiment expressed by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein when they wrote that we have an "inescapable" choice between survival and war. They wrote this as a reaction to the spread of the WMDs of their time. Their words have become more relevant now than when they were first written (http://www.pugwash.org/about/manifesto.htm).
Our Warnik counterparts see the use of military power as something to celebrate than a necessary evil. Because of the 9-11 attacks, they have concluded that our country must approach our new enemy as we did our enemies in WWII--with overwhelming force and national unity. They sincerely believe that our military needs to be strong and free to exercise its full capabilities while we civilians must be fully united behind the military and its Commander In-Chief. For them, dissent is treason. They claim that this WWII approach saved us then and it will save us now. It is a rational approach that merits consideration rather than immediate dismissal. It is our, us Peacenics, argument, however, that not only did this approach fail us in Vietnam; it has been antiquated with the spread and accessibility of WMDs.
The next difference revolves around America's status and privilege in the world. Should America act as an equal amongst nations or does America have special privileges. We Peacenics believe the former. This sentiment implies the "principle of universality" that Chomsky has so often repeated--that is we should adhere to the same standards that we enforce on others (http://www.chomsky.info/articles/20040806.htm). Former Nuremburg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz sees the reliance on international law as a substitute for war (see articles at http://www.benferencz.org/).
Too often, though, we have a limited ourselves when insisting that America act as an equal. That is, we only think in terms of comparing America with other nations. Martin Luther King, in his speech against the Vietnam War (http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/058.html), decided to apply a universal standard regarding the use of violence to both inner city youth and national leaders. After all, young men trying to survive in the city were asking him why they should not resort to violence when their government so easily does. Thus, we should point out that when our President so easily orders acts of violence with impunity, he acts as a role model for all--including our young people.
Our Warnik counterparts have fallen prey to believing America's press clippings. Believing what Ronald Reagan said about us being a "shining city on a hill," they assume that America has a right to act in any way it sees fit because it is the leader of the Free World. Unfortunately, they think ruling is leading. They overlook the fact that if we lead the free world by ruling it, the free world ceases to be free. Not only that but we find that control breeds contempt and conflict. The more we try to dominate, the more battles we will procure and the more battles we have to fight, the more deleted our resources become.
In addition, we are facing an ever growing arms race with Russia and China while we are fighting a global war against Islamic terrorists. We must notice that we are losing ground on both fronts.
The last difference between us Peacenics and them Warniks is in how we interpret the terrorist attacks. Peacenics tend to interpret terrorist attacks as occurring within a context. This context acknowledges the suffering that has come from American policies. These policies include supporting repressive regimes, not giving a balanced support to Israel, and placing murderous sanctions on Iraq. Thus, we have incited (not invited Rudy) terrorist attacks. And one way by which we can fight terrorism is to change America’s immoral policies.
The above are fighting words to Warniks. Because they desire to see things in black and white with themselves as wearing the white hats, Warniks believe that we are engaged in a war against evil. To attribute a context to terrorism, in their view, is to justify the terrorism. The result here is that Warniks assume America's, in the end their own, goodness regardless of policies.
We Peacenics could learn to be more consistent here. Whereas we are more than willing to understand the context of terrorists who attack us, we resist acknowledging the context for the Warniks' actions. Again, the use of overwhelming force and strong national unity is how we won WWII. And we must remember how difficult it is for people to change. We need to reach out to these Warniks. We need to follow the example provided by Martin Luther King when he dealt with opposition. We need to look at Warniks as people to win over.