Deja vu

by T-Mex Monday, Oct. 28, 2002 at 8:18 PM

Orwell's words are still fresh. . .

At the DC protest yesterday, on a nearby street corner, a handful of Iraqi-Americans staged a counterdemonstration. Aziz al-Taee, spokesman for the Iraqi-American Council, said, "I think America is doing just fine. ... We think every day Saddam stays in power, he kills more Iraqis."

These are people who, unlike the vast majority of "anti-war" activists, actually lived under Saddam and know that without war, he will continue to oppress the people of Iraq with murder, torture and starvation.

Orwell wrote "To abjure violence it is necessary to have no experience of it."  In his experience, Pacifists acted primarily in support of their own domestic political motives and propounded a moral relativism that echoes what we are hearing today.   Prime Minister Blair is assailed as misguided and President Bush - not Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden - is declared the greatest threat to world peace, and - in the Canadian manifesto - a "thug" to boot.   

It has been heard before.  "Pacifist propaganda," Orwell wrote in the 1940s, "usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of the younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States.  Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defense of the western countries."

This was plainly evident in an incident on the remote Philippine island of Basilan.   Upon the completion of a six month U.S. military advisory mission in July, a contingent of Manila activists arrived to mount a demonstration during the troops' media-covered departure.   To their surprise and consternation, the activists' buses were met by local Basilan residents who greeted them with a hail of rocks and invective.  The counter-demonstrators later explained to journalists that they liked the American soldiers and they were grateful for the logistic and advisory support which had helped the Philippine army establish a measure of peace and security not known for many years.  These simple people were not going to allow their more worldly countrymen from the metropolis of Manila to undermine any future need of U.S. assistance. 

As the debate over Iraq approaches resolution, the voices of these ordinary people will not be heard as loudly as those of activists, academics and celebrities in distant cities and countries.  Yet in facing oppression and the risk of terror in their daily lives, they have a far better understanding of the real world we live in.  Even in a utopia of peace and understanding, force - and the threat of force - is the reality underpinning civilization.  No doubt liberated Afghans, ordinary Iraqis, starving North Koreans, and the people of New York City and Bali appreciate this more than most.  George Orwell certainly did and of pacifist ideals he was quite clear.  "One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that:  no ordinary man could be such a fool."

Original: Deja vu