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Are War Protesters Un-American?

In a Nutshell

Yes

No

  1. Many of the protests have been organized by openly communist, socialist, and other anti-capitalist groups.
  2. Most protesters are uninformed about the issues they're protesting.
  3. The participants are often taking part in the protests because it's fashionable or trendy rather than because they really believe in what they're protesting.
  4. Protesters send a message of weakness and indecisiveness to foreigners, thereby thwarting our causes.
  5. Many of the signs and chants attack Bush & America rather than the issues.
  6. The protests send a negative message to soldiers risking their lives every day.
  7. The vocalness of the protests mislead the world as to the true level of opposition; pro-war advocates rarely protest.
  8. Protesters rarely show up to protest Saddam, Kim Jong El, or other atrocious governments.
  1. Freedom of expression is the very definition of America.
  2. Protests could keep the U.S. from making big mistakes and save the lives of American soldiers.
  3. Protests show foreigners that the people don't always support the government, leading to hatred of American policy rather than hatred of the American people.
  4. Protests are a way to ensure the voices of the people are heard by the government.

Related Links

Overview/Background

The war on Iraq has spurred millions around the world to protest. A vocal segment of Americans also joined in on the protests. However, the techniques and messages coming from the protesters have come under almost as much criticism as the war itself. Protesters have been accused, among other things, of being anti-American.

Yes

  1. Many of the protests have been organized by openly communist, socialist, and other anti-capitalist groups. Mass war protests on the scale we saw before the Iraq War just don't spontaneously erupt. They all have to have an organizer--someone to get the word out on the Internet, set a time, mobilize interests groups, find people to give speeches, create signs, and so on. Protests are made up of a diverse group of people; some are patriotic Americans, some are not. But if you look behind the scenes to find out the groups who organize the protests, they almost always are groups that are openly anti-American or have some other related cause to promote. Some of the groups that organized protests during the Iraq War buildup include Stalinists, Trotskyites, Socialist Worker parties, Nation of Islam members, anti-Semitic groups, 'Bush-didn't-win-Florida' zealots, anti-capital-punishment militants, and so on. Even when these groups aren't the organizers, they still often set up information desks during the demonstrations. This is not to say that all protesters fall into these categories, but it is clear that a significant portion of the crowds were using the protests to object to capitalism and the American way of life, not the war in Iraq.

  2. Most protesters are uninformed about the issues they're protesting. As was discussed in the War on Iraq issue page, the decision to go to war was an extremely complicated one. There was no easy answer, and there are always many reasons not to go to war. However, how many of the protesters were really informed on the issues? How many knew the history of Saddam and Iraq? How many knew about biological and chemical weapons, or what the daily life of an Iraqi was like? Even those that were somewhat informed usually only knew the points on one side of the issue, and if you brought up a point on the other side of the issue, they would normally justify, divert, or explain some paranoid conspiracy. If a person has made a solid analysis of both sides of the issue and still disagrees with the government, they should protest. However, I'm betting if you gave all protesters a remedial test of the facts surrounding the issues (or a remedial test of world history), only a very small minority would be able to pass.

  3. The participants are often taking part in the protests because it's fashionable or trendy rather than because they really believe in what they're protesting. Just like during the Vietnam war, protesting has become the "cool" thing to do for a lot of people. You'll notice that much of the protester makeup was actors/actresses as well as college students, many of whom were just seeking social approval or publicity. It's an unwritten rule in Hollywood that you have to be liberal in your political views if you want to work in that town. When an actor maybe be blacklisted for taking a conservative stance and when all his or her acting buddies are ultra-liberal, it follows then that he or she is going to speak out against the war. Compare these protests to those during the Vietnam war. It's debatable how many of the protesters were sincere. Pop culture revolved around the war protests. Numerous anti-war songs, TV shows, Vietnam movies, etc. kept the anti-war movement popular. Nowadays, you can throw in the Internet as another method of promoting trendy or fashionable things. Protesting in this country is a right, but when it turns into a social event, we have a problem.

  4. Protesters send a message of weakness and indecisiveness to foreigners, thereby thwarting our causes. It's ironic that the existence of the peace movement in effect forced us to war. When you have American leaders saying one thing and media-glorified protesters saying another, it sends a message to all foreign governments that we're weak and indecisive. Osama bin Laden attacked us (among other reasons) because he perceived us as a "paper tiger" that couldn't stomach casualties and would always back down easily. It's became the same thing with Saddam Hussein. Our only chance of getting Saddam to back down would have been to send a clear message that this country was united and the international community was united. Obviously, that didn't happen, so Saddam chose to play games. Although he had no chance to win militarily, he went ahead with war because he felt he could inflict enough casualties to further split the international community and to get America to back down. The current terrorists in Iraq are trying to do the same thing.

  5. Many of the signs and chants attack Bush & America rather than the issues. As mentioned previously, most protesters are uninformed on the issues surrounding the war. However, even if they did understand, many protesters use the protests to bash President Bush and America rather than the war effort. Just take a sampling of signs at any protest to see the truth, "Bush is Hitler", "Stop American Imperialism", "No Blood for Oil", "Bush Stole the Presidency", "Bush is a Terrorist", "Stop Bush and Enron from Destroying the World". Do any of these signs reflect the good reasons for not going to war detailed on the War on Iraq issue page? The Bush administration may turn out to be completely wrong on it's war policy, but are any of these signs based in reality? One of the most well-known protestors is Cindy Sheehan, a mother of a soldier killed in the Iraq War. Rather than focus her wrath on the terrorists who killed her son, she has chosen to focus her campaign on Bush and America. She has met & praised Communist thug Hugo Chavez, called Bush the "biggest terrorist in the world", and said "America is not worth fighting for" while repeatedly comparing the Bush administration to the Nazi regime. I guarantee you that if you visit any anti-Iraq War protest, you'll hear and see a similar round of attacks.

  6. The protests send a negative message to soldiers risking their lives every day. Young men and women are risking their lives daily to protect their country and the freedom of the people. They are subjecting themselves to artillery, street gunfire terror, roadside bombs, and mines. Many will come back dead or wounded, and even if they don't agree with the war, they still have to follow orders to do their duty. The protests send a message to soldiers that the country doesn't support them and what they're doing is wrong. Whether or not that is truly the case, that's the message being sent. In fact, these brave men and women put their lives on line just so people have the freedoms to do things like protest. It's disgusting that we can't stand behind our soldiers at a time like this!

  7. The vocalness of the protests mislead the world as to the true level of opposition; pro-war advocates rarely protest. Polls showed varying support for the Iraq War ranging from 45-72 percent of Americans during the buildup. However, the protests got a lot more media attention than any polls. This misled the country and the world into thinking the level of dissent in the U.S. was a lot higher than it was. Pro-war advocates are rarely going to march, and even when they do, the media usually glances over them without making much of a fuss. Counts of war protesters also come from fantasy land. We hear stories of 500,000 here or a million protesters there. How are they counting these numbers? The media will usually take the word of the organizers as to the turnout without questioning or checking up on the figures. The San Francisco Chronicle and others that do independent counts using aerial shots usually demonstrate that peace advocates will take the actual number of people and double or triple it. But let's assume that these counts are correct (a wild assumption). Even then, the counts represent less than 1 percent of the population. Does 1 percent of the population truly represent the thinking of the mainstream public?

  8. Protesters rarely show up to protest Saddam, Kim Jong El, or other atrocious governments. Noticeably missing in the signs of protesters were signs speaking out against Saddam. Wouldn't it be as appropriate, if not more so, to say "Stop Saddam's Atrocities", "Saddam Must Comply with U.N. Resolutions", "Stop the Proliferation of WMD", "Rescue the Iraqi People from Saddam", and so on. The United States have not always been the most moral nation throughout our history, but our weaknesses and mistakes don't even begin to compare to those of regimes like those of Iraq and North Korea. Human rights records of countries throughout the Communist and Arab worlds are atrocious (how soon we forget what women went through under the Taliban). We should be protesting and correcting these problems before we start criticizing America.

No

  1. Freedom of expression is the very definition of America. It seems self-evident that freedom of speech and assembly is a core value in America. It's spelled out after all in the 1st amendment to the Constitution. Throughout our history, protests have been a way to get the folks in Washington to listen to the people. Protests have taken place during the Vietnam war, at abortion clinics, during unpopular court cases, and more. Let's not forget the Million Man march and other historic events. In fact, the country itself was founded because colonists were unhappy with the tyranny of a government 3,000 miles away. To say protesters are un-American is ridiculous. There is nothing more American then speaking your mind when you disagree with the government.

  2. Protests could keep the U.S. from making big mistakes and save the lives of American soldiers. War protests contributed in large part to the ending of the Vietnam War, a conflict that ended the lives of over 50,000 Americans and over a million Vietnamese. This is just one example of how protesters can keep the government from making a big mistake. The future is always uncertain. The war in Iraq carries enormous risks with it. Just maybe the protesters will turn out to be absolutely correct. And even if the protesters are wrong and the majority of the population supports the president, the next event in history that causes protests may be different. You should never discourage protests because no one can predict the future.

  3. Protests show foreigners that the people don't always support the government, leading to hatred of American policy rather than hatred of the American people. We regularly see on the news the burning of American flags and chants of "Death to America" by radicals around the world. Anti-Americanism has been around for a long time. However, by protesting war, we show the international community that the people don't always agree with their government. This is often reflected in the attitudes of citizens around the world. More and more, you will hear "I have nothing against the American people, but I hate the policies of the U.S. government." This is a much more benign attitude than the "death to all Americans" attitude that could be more prevalent.

  4. Protests are a way to ensure the voices of the people are heard by the government. We vote for senators every 6 years, representatives every 2 years, and presidents every 4 years. Obviously, voting is the best way to make your voice heard. However, there isn't an effective way for the people to communicate their dissatisfaction in between elections. If we call, e-mail, or write letters to our leaders, the messages are likely to be buried among thousands of others. Impeachments or recalls are almost always impractical. And it's not like we can personally approach and discuss our views with politicians. Protests are perhaps the only way to effectively express dissent and actually be heard. For this reason, protests should never be discouraged.

Related Links

100,000 Communists March on Washington
Views on Anti-War protests

Is anything missing? Is any of the material inaccurate? Please let me know.

Written by:
Joe Messerli
Page Last Updated:
11/19/2011