Politics & Policy

Strange Protesters

Some antiwar protesters show the movement's true colors.

“We would be for the defeat of the U.S. in this war,” explained Abram Negrete, the leader of a small group that trekked from the Big Apple to the Washington Monument for this weekend’s antiwar protests. “We are for the defense of Iraq. It is in the interests of working people in the United States that the same government which is trying to intimidate and silence them be defeated in this war.”

According to Negrete, America’s plans are much more ambitious than merely deposing Saddam Hussein: “The current plan is to launch a war which is with the explicit intention of the United States seizing Iraq and determining what government will be there, and using this to assert their dominance over the entire planet.”

While millions oppose the war, only 40,000 or so showed up for Saturday’s demonstration on the Mall and the subsequent march to the White House. The anti-Americanism of Abram Negrete, and so many other demonstrators like him, is the primary reason why the antiwar mainstream stays home. With public-opinion polls indicating that about a quarter of the U.S. population opposes a war in Iraq, Abram Negrete couldn’t possibly be the face of American opposition to the war. Negrete and his views, however, do find a comfortable home amidst the antiwar protests, which are more accurately viewed as anti-American protests or anti-Bush hate-fests.

“I’m really embarrassed to be an American,” remarked marcher Eric Dyer. Dyer points to Caligula and Hitler as two historical figures that resemble President Bush. Bearing a sign reading “Bush’s USA, #1 Rogue Nation,” the young activist believes Bush’s war is about “psychological issues of trying to please his father.”

“I see Bush exactly as a Hitler,” remarked New Yorker Edward Lopez. Hawking artwork depicting the president, vice president, and secretary of defense sporting Nazi garb while standing above a pile of skulls, Lopez labels the current occupant of the Oval Office “a very dangerous individual.” Despite freely selling such controversial art within eyeshot of the White House, Lopez maintains: “This is becoming a fascist state, maybe it already is.”

“Where do we get the moral high ground to tell anybody what kinds of weapons to have?” asks John Aria, a New Jersey native. “We, who are the only nation that ever used weapons of mass destruction — against civilian populations no less — in Hiroshima, in Nagasaki three days later! What kind of a nation does this? We are unrivaled in brutality and hypocrisy.” The middle-aged high-school teacher, who attended the rally with two friends, reserves particular contempt for the education system. “What passes for history in our high schools is nothing but propaganda,” Aria contends. “It’s the glorification of American culture, and it’s bullshit.”

Others expressed their sentiments on placards. A few of the more eye-catching signs included: “Bush Is the True Threat,” “Jim Moran Is Right,” and “9/11 Was an Inside Job.”

At least as unhinged as many of those protesting the war are the leaders of the organization pulling the strings behind the scenes of many of the demonstrations. A curiously high percentage of the leadership of International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism), the primary organizer of Saturday’s protest, also happens to belong to an obscure communist outfit called the Workers World Party. One needn’t hire Sherlock Holmes to deduce why members of the WWP have opted for a different name when sponsoring the marches.

Why should it surprise anyone that a movement run by the lunatic fringe of American politics would attract a generous share of crackpots? If the Ku Klux Klan or the skinheads organized a rally, no one would express shock if a collection of weirdoes and hate-mongers attended to show support. When the Workers World Party — oops, I mean International ANSWER — sponsors an event, the media largely bypasses an explanation of the group’s origins and denies the massive presence of political radicals at the gathering. That doesn’t mean the back-story’s not there, though.

Daniel J. Flynn is the author of Why the Left Hates America: Exposing the Lies That Have Obscured Our Nation’s Greatness.

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