Bay area's silent majority

Posted: Apr 16, 2003 12:00 AM

Talk about pathetic.

Last week, antiwar protesters were reduced to picketing KQED -- that's right, San Francisco's left-leaning PBS television and radio station. Protesters accused the station of "deliberately limiting voices of reason, dissent and resistance."

"We're being picketed," a stunned KQED employee and former Vietnam War protester gasped over the phone last week, unsure of whether to laugh or cry.

Poor baby. He was a victim of the latest bit of agitprop from the antiwar left. The public supports the war in overwhelming numbers, the antiwar left's argument goes, only because the news media aren't telling Americans the whole story.

If the public isn't antiwar, the antiwar left figures it can blame the messenger, not the antiwar message.

Or as anti-Iraq war activist/actress Susan Sarandon told television host Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," "Well, I mean, if, you know, journalists started covering issues and they would take some of these experts on shows without movie stars, I'd be glad to stay home. ... Sometimes the American public is not getting all the information."

Which tells you more about Sarandon than the media. If Sarandon thinks news shows won't air a foreign-policy story without celebrities, she certainly isn't glued to PBS. Apparently, she only watches "Entertainment Tonight."

And Sarandon didn't do herself any favors in suggesting that she is privy to information that is hidden from the American public. It's a handy conceit, the conviction that you as a Beautiful Person have access to special transformational information, which unlocks an understanding beyond the reach of the rest of us chickens.

But Sarandon doesn't show much understanding of politics if she thinks that there is some bit of expert testimony that demands a specific position on the war. Smart, informed individuals disagree on President Bush's use of force in Iraq because they have different worldviews and conflicting ideas about how to tame a foreign tyrant.

After all the blather about how the Bay Area is a haven for antiwar sentiment, it was especially delicious to read in The San Francisco Chronicle that the Field Poll found that even the liberal Bay Area supports "military action in Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power" -- to the glorious tune of 63 percent.

Funny. You can't drive on the freeway without seeing antiwar bumper stickers. Local government boards have voted unanimously against the war. Sponsors of school teach-ins complain that they would like to have speakers to represent the pro-war side, if only they could find someone who is pro-war.

Now it turns out that the majority of people who live here do support the war; it's the teach-in sponsors who were so out-of-touch they didn't know they were out-of-touch.

What's more, since so much antiwar information proliferates here in the left-leaning end of the west, and most people are pro-war, you could deduce that the antiwar arguments aren't particularly compelling.

True, those who support the war aren't as loud as the protesters. Then again, being pro-war isn't something to whoop about. War is a solemn responsibility, and those who support it should have the good grace to do so reluctantly.