Protesting War--An Dying Art
War protestors march through New York City.  They wear masks and attack America.  Are they Terrorists?  Do protestors feed the Beast of Terror and promote War rather than defuse it?    Find out in this provoking story.


Thursday--November 21, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 435
Bones Of Protest--A Dying Art

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, Nov. 21 -- I washed myself upon the beach of ancient war protestors yesterday--my bones were bleached by the dying sun of anti-war cries.

Broadway: Grace Cathedral in background

       I stumbled into the head of the New York University's Anti-War Protestors marching down Broadway from Union Square.
       There were a thousand young people, salted with some gray-haired antediluvian throwbacks from Vietnam, and some communist and socialist protestors who leech themselves on any gathering that rails against government.

Washington Square Park, NYU Student War Protest Nov. 20

      They were chanting the ancient cries of "soon-to-die" youth on the ledge of war's precipice--"Hell No, We Won't Go!  Hey, Hey, Hey Mr. Bush, How Many Boys Did You Kill Today!"  

       I was at the front of the demonstration with my Kodak 3400 digital whining as fast as it could recycle, walking backwards with an adroitness a photographer quickly learns if he wishes to get prime photos.  The young people shoved their signs in the air and their pimpled, unwrinkled, unworn faces beamed as they defied the authority of the United States to launch war against Iraq.  In the background was the great spire of the Grace Cathedral shooting upwards like a jousting lance toward the underbelly of Heaven.   On the flanks of the street were logos of modern civilization such as McDonalds and Ricky's, a hip-hop store appealing to the college age youth.

      Herding the protestors who were taking a day off from classes to bark their resistance to the war were hundreds of NYPD uniformed police and as many plain clothes officers trying unsuccessfully to blend into the crowds.   NYPD Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU) officers were taking photos of the crowd to be used to help prosecute anyone who turned peaceful into violent protest.  Above, police helicopters swarmed and ambulances stood by next to paddy wagons to rush the wounded and arrested away if the crowd turned mad.

Gabriel's "Make Peace, Not War"


         The youngest protestor was a four-year-old sitting on his grandmother's shoulders.  His name was Gabriel.  He held a sign in his left hand that read, "MAKE NICE NOT WAR."  He was well-trained to respond to a camera and would grin and hold up the "V" sign with his left hand and hoist the sign erect whenever a lens pointed his way.   I asked him if he could play the trumpet after his namesake the ancient Gabriel who crumbled the walls of Jericho, but he just looked at me and smiled.
        There were protestors marching with masks of death carrying cut out machine guns.  I found them a little disturbing, trying to figure out how weapons played to peace.  

Illegal terror masks?

 There was an ominous nature to the masks, as though perhaps the Terrorists or Saddam's own henchmen had helped organize the protest, and were walking along the flanks urging it forward in hopes the pressure from the grassroots might ooze its way up into the war rooms and take President Bush's finger off the trigger.
        Ironically, just the other day a federal judge struck down a New York State law banning masks at protest rallies.   The law was considered discriminatory by Harold Baer Jr. of Federal District Court.  He ruled the city had enforced the law selectively against the Ku Klux Klansmen demonstrating in New York in 1999.   In reinforcing constitutional rights in troubled times he wrote in defense of his ruling:  "While a commitment to constitutional principles must not be a suicide pact, the rational and measured exercise of jurisprudence must be zealously sustained, even in time of war, including the war on terrorism."

         Police argue masks make it difficult to identify protestors.   Protestors argue the right of anonymous expression is protected under the First Amendment.  Judge Baer agreed.  He cited a number of cases where protestors wore masks and weren't arrested, including a rally after the funeral of Mr. Diallo who was killed in a police shooting in 1999 and protestors who wore Mayor Giuliani rubber face masks in a protest against the Klan march.

"Burning" Draft Card

     As a Vietnam Marine Corps war veteran who was spat upon by anti-war protestors and urged to debate Tom Hayden on campus during the height of Vietnam war protests, I have little affinity to people who jeer in public parade against war, especially in a holiday environment designed for cameras and sound bites.   I also take issue to parading children with anti-war signs, using them as tools to espouse their elder's views.
      Yet I also love the Constitutional Right Of Dissent, and if America gave up 50,000 lives to preserve that alone in Vietnam, or in all the deaths of all the young men and women who have sacrificed themselves for Liberty, or the pursuit of it, such blood was well worth spilling.
       Frankly, public protests often become spectacles rather than solutions.  
      The sum of the today's protest messages was the tearing down of America.
      The signs were all negative dissent, NO BLOOD FOR OIL, F*** BUSH, BUSH IS AN ASSASSIN, A THIEF & LIAR, A WAR PROFITEER, A CRIMINAL.   I marveled there was not one protest poster of Saddam Hussein.
      I gravitated toward the "old protestors," the ones I knew were from the Vietnam era--the kind who stuffed daisies down the barrels of National Guardsmen rifles, the kind who spat in my face.   

Career Protestor Mary

 One lady, Mary, was holding up a sign:  WAR WAR--WHAT FOR--OIL OIL OIL.  It had a picture of Bush in the lower right corner with the words I--a heart--Oil.
       I asked if she had protested other wars.  She said, yes, the Vietnam War.  Then quickly added, "But the people then were older."  I smiled at her and said, "Maybe not.  Maybe you were just younger." 
       She blinked, as though suddenly aware of time, and said, "Yes, I never thought of that."  
       The youngest protestor I spoke with was a 15-year-old Jeremy from the Bronx.  He was with a number of classmates expressing the right of protest.

Novice Protestor Jeremy, Age 15

      Later that evening, my wife and I were babysitting our grandchildren, Matt 6 and Sarah, 4.    When their father came home I showed him my pictures of the protest.
       Joe is a peace activist.   I respect him because he does it 365 days of the year, twenty-four hours a day.   He lives his beliefs, which are based on social justice not just anti-war principles.   Each weekend he serves his beliefs at Union Square, holding up signs with other members of the Catholic Worker against war.  He had been to El Salvador to help oppressed people, and last year traveled to war-torn Jerusalem to stand for the elimination of violence.
       I was telling him my belief that protesting war was not a solution, but Vigilance was.   I said that if one maintains a constant state of Vigilance there is no need for peace activism.   He didn't agree.   I tried to explain that I believed that peace activism was not dissimilar to war activism.  One was the offshoot of the other, that peace advocacy was a reaction to war, and that two--Peace and War--were bred from the same mother, one the Cain the other the Able, one the plus the other the minus, equals and opposites like Love and Hate, Right and Wrong, Good and Bad.
       I suggested to him that Vigilance was a stand-alone principle.   That Vigilance was its own private state of being, that did not recognize War or Peace, but rather was a constant.  And that to be an advocate for Vigilance--one who promoted the defeat of Fear with Courage, the suppression of Intimidation by the elevation of Conviction, and promoting Right Action rather than Complacency, that War and Peace become secondary issues.   Vigilance, I proposed, was the tip of the triangle, its apex, smothering war, eliminating Peace as a transition between war.
       It was a healthy discussion.    I asked him to think about it.
       But I also know that war protests aren't new.


       The Spartan women locked themselves in the Acropolis to make their men stop fighting the Trojan Wars.   I'm sure at some point cavewomen rallied to keep their cavemen from going out and clubbing their neighbors to death to get extra food or land.

      When war looms, as it does today, it sparks the protestors to life.   Many, like the NYU students there because of a Student-Walk-Out, marching before my camera lens, had no idea what they were saying or chanting.   Their idea of making America wrong for waging war came out of their youthful hubris, their sophomoric desire to express themselves as children do--by retaliating against authority.
       Surrounding them were the leeches of protest--the older groups of communists and socialists more interested in feeding off their frenzy to attack America than to support their beliefs.   That bothered me. 
      I didn't see one sign promoting Vigilance.  That was my fault.   The message of Vigilance is the key to eliminating war, for when people are Vigilant there is not need for war, but always a need for Vigilance.
     America and the world let Iraq happen.  If there should have been a protest target, it should have been the Beast of Terror, the Beast of Complacency, the Beast of Fear, the Beast of Intimidation--not America, not President Bush.

         Protestations that target the appendages of war and not its vital organs are faddic communions, only stirring fuel for the Beast of Terror who loves to mask itself in hate and anger and sweep the young into its arms under the guise they are protecting the innocent, purifying the soil by chanting out their revolution against violence.

         The Beast of Terror knows the children will sleep until war awakens, and that it will be too late for them to stop it once the fuse has been lighted.    He doesn't want them to cleave Vigilance as a tool against War, for by doing so, the innocent then recognize that War is the result of Complacency, not the absence of Peace.   When the world ignores the Beast's presence and lets it grow, then War erupts.

      The world should have acted to quash Saddam Hussein's Terrorism long ago.   But it feel Complacent, non-Vigilant.   Now that President Bush and the United States have taken the bold stand against Terrorism, the young consider it a violation of Peace, not a promotion of Vigilance.
       Had they been brought up by Parents of Vigilance, they would know that they should have been marching against the Beast of Terror, not against Sentinels of Vigilance.

   If the United States wants to change the face of War, it needs to change its rhetoric.   If everything that comes out of Washington and the President's mouth talks about Vigilance, and acting in behalf of the children's children's children to remove the Beast of Terror from their lives, perhaps that theme, and not the one for NO BLOOD FOR OIL will dominate protestors' placards.
        I vote for signs that say:  DESTROY THE BEAST OF TERROR!   SIGN THE PLEDGE OF VIGILANCE!
      We need to bleach the bones of protest.   We need to purify them with Vigilance and drive out the Beast of Terror.  
       You can start today.  Download the Pledge of Vigilance and protest War with Vigilance.




Nov. 20--Homeland Security--New Terrorism or New Security

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