Playing politics with a T-shirt mentality

Posted: Jan 28, 2003 12:00 AM
It's one thing for a pop star like Sheryl Crow, sorry, an "activist for recording artist's rights" like Crow to wear her gross political naivete across her T-shirt in black sequins that spell, "WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER." She had this mini-manifesto "specially made," as the Associated Press reported, for her appearance on the American Music Awards last week. Crow had obviously not exhausted the subject with her last rejoinder to the Bush administration's Iraq policy, a white T-shirt emblazoned with "I DON'T BELIEVE IN YOUR WAR, MR. BUSH!" worn during a December performance on "Good Morning, America." And imagine, there was still more to say. "I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow," she explained to the AP. "I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is not to have enemies." Ah, so. War is greed (tell the "greatest" generation), war is never the answer (tell George Washington, Winston Churchill and the emir of Kuwait), and the way to avoid it is not to have enemies (tell a shrink). Mass politicking by uninformed celebrities is not without harm, but the world isn't really in trouble until the shallow slogans of the soundstage start to echo and reverb across the world stage. Which'll never happen, right? Take another sound check. This past week, France and Germany may have appeared to unveil their joint anti-war policy on Iraq, but what La France and its warm-up act Germany really did was kick off their 2003 international tour, "War Is Not the Answer." The show began at the United Nations. In what the Washington Post called "a diplomatic version of an ambush," France threw itself into the spokes of a Security Council exchange on terrorism to declare its opposition to war on Iraq. Concluding that such a war would bring death, regional instability (the instability of assorted brutal dictatorships?) and an increase in terrorism (more on that below), French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin announced, "nothing today justifies envisaging military action." Germany followed suit -- and then some: "Do not expect that Germany will agree to a resolution that legitimizes war," German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told a crowd in Germany. Funny how this Franco-German front coincides with the 40th anniversary celebration of the Elysee friendship treaty between the two nations. According to Cybercast News Service, ever-increasing Franco-German chumminess is said to include proposals "for regular joint cabinet meetings and a unified system of citizenship and law for the two countries." There have even been calls for a "Franco-German Union" with "common foreign, security and economic policies." Bienvenue/willkommen to the Franco-German Union -- against a war on Iraq. Interesting continental coalition, that. A London Times analysis explains it this way: "For these two countries, what legitimizes a united Europe is the complete rejection of war in all its forms. If you base your whole philosophy as a European Union on that, then ultimately you are going to get into a problem with a world that sees war as an instrument of diplomatic change." But is pure pacifism really the "whole philosophy" of these scaly Old World cynics? Only a pop star in sequins could buy that. Still, there's more of the Crow doctrine in this Franco-German Union than meets the eye. Remember the "huge karmic retributions" Ms. Crow spoke of? Both France and Germany cite a potentially heightened risk of Islamic terrorism as a reason not to go to war in Iraq, a notion that should perplex the average citizen of the Free World now living with an already heightened risk (and reality) of Islamic terrorism -- without going to war in Iraq. And remember Ms. Crow's secret to peace being "having no enemies"? On this point, it's worth considering what historian Bat Ye'or reminds us of in his book "Islam and Dhimmitude" (Farleigh Dickinson Press, 2001): that France's historic tilt toward the most radical elements in the Arab world -- for example, its role in lending respectability to the PLO, its opposition to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, its historic support of the Ba'ath parties in Syria and Iraq -- seems to have deflected much of the Islamic terrorism that has beleaguered the United States and Israel. In other words, France has had "no enemies" likely to fight jihad against it. And she'll do anything, it seems, to keep it that way. According to the London Telegraph, the French government is now considering trashing a bedrock principal of the French Republic -- the separation of church and state -- to fund the building of mosques to keep France's second largest religion from falling "further" under the sway of radical, foreign (and particularly Saudi Arabian) powers. Suddenly, Franco-German "pacifism" begins to look like something else: lying down and playing dead. It keeps the karmic retributions away -- maybe -- but it doesn't look too good on a T-shirt.