Did All the Peaceniks Go?
by Raeefa Shams
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
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
I think standing up for your rights is one brilliant , and
peaceful, way of serving your country.