The anti-war rallies last weekend brought out the usual medley of retreads (Jane Fonda, the post-North Vietnamese Communist supporter, post-Turner, post-aerobics; the dynamic duo of Sarandon-Robbins; Sean Penn, the aging enfant terrible of Hollywood who tried to be a human shield for Saddam; Jesse Jackson, who specializes in giving eloquent speeches having no substance or meaning; politicians past their prime looking for some kind of resurrection such as Tom Daschle); the Code Pink leftists; pro-Saddam supporters in America; along with some fresh new 20-somethings; grieving relatives of American soldiers who have died in Iraq; and well-meaning anti-war activists of all kinds.
These demonstrations have become an American product with certain codes and structure that belies any spontaneity the organizers often claim. If anything, the demonstrations resemble most Hollywood productions with a cause (the engagement of American forces overseas; domestic issues rarely merit such expenditure of talent and money), producer (some leftist organization or another), a director (ditto), and roles assigned to major stars, minor stars, and a supporting cast of thousands. How many thousands? Just like in the old Cecil B. DeMille productions, the more “extras” they can muster, the better, especially when policy is often determined by polls (scientific or otherwise) and media exposure.
From the days of the more or less spontaneous events of the Sixties, these get-togethers have established a routine and have become rituals that exist in and of themselves, independent of any meaningful desire for seeing solutions to grave issues and problems facing their country, namely the national security that protects their rights and freedoms here in the United States.
Absent in last weekend’s cycle was any clear identification of the enemy we are fighting in Iraq; what grave geopolitical consequences we face if we pull out now, which was what most of the demonstrators seemed to want (“Go out of Iraq now”); and, natch, any sense of recent history or what has been happening in Iraq in the last few years. As one person was quoted in the Washington Post, “In my view, this is a war of choice and a war for profit against a culture and people we don’t understand.” OK, then what?