Democratic Underground

Where Did All the Peaceniks Go?
November 28, 2001
by Raeefa Shams

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A few days after the Sept.11 attacks, after my shock and horror had subsided into reason (or at least my sense of reason, not shared by much of the population), I began to wonder about the inevitable retaliatory attacks on whatever country we thought was responsible. Through mailing lists and alternative news media - since the regulars of CNN, CBS, and the like were panicky, over-caffienated messes the first few weeks and then again when they became targets of anthrax attacks (why couldn't they have gotten FOX "News?") they were pretty much unreliable - I read about the numerous peace protests planned for the weeks following the attacks.

*Note that we hadn't started our bombing campaign yet*

I attended a rally in Washington D.C., where I was spat upon by a counter-protester who called us "The Bin Laden Fan Club" (obviously he didn't get the "peace" part of the peace protest). But hopes were high among the young activist communities, most of whom were students involved in previous activism (like me) such as the anti-globalization protests that dominated all the trade meetings of recent years.

We knew that this wasn't going to be another Vietnam, that we wouldn't have millions on the streets shouting anti-war slogans, that we are the good guys this time, (though we ticked off many people by daring to suggest that maybe our foreign policy had something to do with the attacks), and that because of that, the anti-war movement had not much chance of surviving. And we were right.

I think that most of us activists (including me) thought that the American troops were going to bomb villages full of innocent and starving people in the name of retaliation. When we saw that was not the case, so far, we knew we were finished.

Now I hope that my president, though he's an incompetent and unelected fool, will help rid the long-suffering Afghan people of the Taliban and help set up a coalition government. If you've read any of the news reports, you will see that the Northern Alliance is almost as dangerous and fanatical as the Taliban. And I'm angry that the Pentagon's press briefings have not given me more information than "I'm afraid I can't disclose that information at this points.

And I'm angry that Bush wants to try these terrorists in secret military tribunals. I want to know what goes on in my government and in my world, especially if my government has such a great impact on the world.

But I know that there won't be any peace movement, at least none attached to this war. I remember the movie "Wag the Dog," where presidential advisors create a fake war to distract the public from a scandal. In my case, I can, with a laugh, think of some activists who might create a war just so they'll have something to protest.

And while some people might view us as unpatriotic and naive, I have reasons to counter both of those accusations. We pacifists are as patriotic as every last flag-waving, anthem-shouting, one of you - because we're standing up for the right to free speech, a beautiful right guaranteed by our forefathers. We love our country, so we want it to be an advocate for peace. And we are far from naive. How can we be naive when we question countries and leaders and people and ideas considered to be the norm?

I think standing up for your rights is one brilliant , and peaceful, way of serving your country.