A Times photo of yesterday's demonstration depicts protesters holding signs sponsored by CAIR, the country's top Islamic lobbying group and "front organization for Hamas."
I'm one of those who view the "peace" protests with a wide angle.
A look at the protesters at these demonstrations indicates it's never just about one isolated injustice, military campaign, or alleged gay rights abuse. We routinely see any and all protests ultimately engagint the secular left's most radical forces in their attempts to take down the entire system. Some folks on the Democratic-left, who might call themselves "liberals," minimize the neo-Stalinist totalitarianism in ANSWER's agenda. Folks who supported Barack Obama and the Democrats knowingly support the ANSWER agenda while simultaneously and hypocritically denouncing the actual demonstrators at the barricades as "fringe activists." Natually, for those who consider themselves respectably antiwar and pro-choice, while advocating "universal" healthcare, there couldn't possibly be any connection between their "progressive" agenda and the antiwar demonization parades taking place routinely across America's cities.
In any case, John Bruhns, a veteran anti-Iraq activist, calls baloney on the "peace" movement at the Philly Daily News:
I support people protesting what they think are injustices, but all issues aren't linked. It's not a good tactic to force people to stand under an umbrella of issues, all of which that they may not support.Readers can judge the degree of Bruhns' naïvety. It sounds quaint to hear someone announce - after eight years of the most bitter denunciations of the "evil BusHitler regime" - that the movement's gotten too "radical."
By alienating the silent majority, the current anti-war movement has dealt itself a bad hand that essentially diminished its credibility.
In a democracy, strength is in numbers. This anti-establishment and absolutist view of the political process is likely to be the real cause of their implosion.
As someone who's been fighting for years for an end to the war in Iraq, I find this tragic because we need the voices of millions to put pressure on our elected officials to end the conflict and fix the many problems facing our country. But those voices have to be credible to be taken seriously, and circus acts never are.
What pains me the most about the self-destruction of the anti-war movement is the fact that the people behind it genuinely want an end to the war. They're not phony front groups or partisan hacks using the war as an advantage to promote their political party, in my mind a worse sin than dragging in all those irrelevant issues.
But the truth is that the "real" anti-war movement has become far too radical to be effective.
They've pushed themselves into a corner where there's no possibility of meeting an opposing side halfway. If they ever hope to regroup into a force capable of generating a strong political will, they'll need to accept that it's 2009, not 1969 - and be more tolerant of other opinions.
The angry activists we've seen in the latest wave of demonstrations against Proposition 8 and now Israel are not good people, frankly. Their agenda is revolutionary, plain and simple. Some of these forces are willing to cooperate with "bourgeoise" democratic-left parties and interest groups, but the most hardline factions allied around ANSWER actively support terrorist movements and armed resistance to American power, seen most recently in the vicious attacks on Jews at the antiwar rallies the past few weeks.
These people are the "nihilists" I routinely excoriate. The backlash I get on this blog from netroots nuts who call me a "fascist" or "wingnut" expresses solidarity with left-wing extremism. The most positive development I've seen in American politics since the election is Barack Obama's strong repudiation of the most radical street activists, their netroots allies, and their extremist policy agenda on such issues as gay marriage and torture-trials for Bush administration officials.
We'll likely see Obama burned in effigy as the new administration hews to a more traditional centrist orientation than the far left. But don't be surprised to see a few congressional Democrats manning the barricades.
UPDATE: Zombietime has a new photo-journalism expose of San Francisco's Israel-Gaza protest from January 10th. Lots of pictures, but this passage reiterates my argument above (via Memeorandum):
Throughout the rally, there was a new name that cropped up all over: Oscar Grant. He was the unfortunate victim of a New Year's Day shooting by a local BART (subway system) policemen (which was either intentional or accidental, depending on whom you ask). Just a few days before this rally, there had been a protest against Oscar Grant's shooting in Oakland that had degenerated into a riot. That protest, unsurprisingly, had been co-organized by ANSWER as well. Almost overnight, Grant has become the new icon of the far left, the poster child for police brutality, and comparisons between Oakland and Palestine and Grant and the Palestinians were commonplace throughout this protest, which theoretically had nothing to do with Oscar Grant or his shooting. This sign was a prime example: "End Government Sponsored Murder in the Ghettos of Oakland and Palestine."And the protesters have denounced Barack Obama:
Why? Because he's not left-wing enough! In particular, Obama's campaign appearance at a meeting of AIPAC (the pro-Israel lobbying group) infuriated many potential far-left voters who hoped that he would change U.S. policy and be pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel once elected.