There are little centipedes all over the sidewalk in front of my office. After every rain, the many-legged critters crawl out from under the damp mulch, thousands of them dying while drying in the sun, crunching underfoot as pedestrians walk past.
These nasty little creatures came to mind when I saw and read the coverage of anti-war protesters who scuttled into the street last week in response to President Bushs call for a war on terrorism.
Nursed on a steady diet of freedom and privilege, these college-age protesters wave signs and chant slogans and in general have a good time denouncing our nations leaders and finding absurd moral equivalence between cold-blooded murder and a military response to it.
They make me want to throw up.
We had to see this coming, about the time tie-dye and bell bottoms made a comeback. Along with fashion nostalgia for the 60s and 70s, the current crop of teens and twentysomethings seems smitten with romantic idealism for protests.
After all, the VH-1 retrospectives make the era of their parents seem so, well, groovy. But without a war to protest, many of them have been reduced to marching - and rioting - in opposition to things like the International Monetary Fund.
Of course, they dont want their protests to interfere with a good time. Thats why the loosely organized anarchists are calling off any marches when the World Bank holds its next meeting. Itll be in China, where the police arent shy about using tanks and guns to hold rioters accountable for disobeying the law.
If TV talking head Bill Maher is still looking for an example of courage - which he says the United States lacks for using missiles in military attacks, in contrast to the bravery of suicide bombers who kill innocent civilians - maybe he could admire these protesters who readily march while protected by American guarantees of freedom of assembly, but who are unwilling to risk imprisonment in a country which has no such respect for civil or human rights.
It wasnt just those loathsome sidewalk-crawling insects that came to mind when I saw those protesters and heard Maher. I also thought of men like the late Harold Ace Elliott and his son Rob, of Lloyd Pate, of Floyd Brown and Floyd Felts and John Greenlee and thousands of others, living and dead. While these men were fighting in the jungles of Vietnam and elsewhere, watching their buddies die, the parents - figurative and literal - of the current anti-war protesters were enjoying their college deferments and the safety of home.
You can almost sense in the modern protesters a certain glee that they, like Mom and Dad, now have their own war to complain about. While Americans are waving the flag with renewed strength and lining up to support our countrys leaders and troops, these protesters - including a bunch from Berkeley, Calif., where fire trucks arent allowed to display the American flag - are organizing for marches and empty slogan-chanting. Much of their thesis seems to be that military action is an inappropriate way to respond to terrorism - that well just be perpetuating the cycle of violence.
Maybe Charles Larke missed his calling. The Richmond County school superintendent has been raked over the coals for preventing students from watching televised coverage of Sept. 11 events in their classrooms. Perhaps Larke should travel to some of these college campuses and unplug a few TV sets, and force some of these airheads to study a little history.
Then they might find that their proposals for a wimpy non-response to a violent attack would do nothing but embolden the terrorists and tyrants. Appeasement does not work, and never has - as history would teach these pitiful clowns.
Americas response should be measured and well-planned. And there will be plenty of people around to analyze and second-guess those plans.
But there really is no room right now in this debate for a bunch of coddled brats who cant wait to become their generations modern version of sniveling protesters spitting on soldiers. Like the nasty little insects they are, they should just crawl back into their dark places before someone steps on them.
(Barry L. Paschal is opinions editor of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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