Iraq war protest: A selfish fight?

Free speech has never been worth less. How else can one respond to what happened Saturday? I'm sure many of you were there, yelling and screaming with the rest of them. That's fine. I just hope that most of you had something slightly educated to say. Nevertheless, the Sept. 15 protest was a train wreck in every sense of the word.

There are many ways to express political dissatisfaction. You can, for instance, write a letter to the editor, debate with a friend, call in to a radio program or, of course, you can protest. There is nothing wrong with a protest, but problems do occur when the protest is not held in the name of education or persuasion but is instead focused solely on insult. This was true this past weekend as thousands gathered to voice their displeasure with the Iraq war. Too bad it offered little more than ridiculous exaggerations, sweeping political manifestos, overbearing hyperbole and the occasional call for revolution.

Watching from the back of the National Archives, I observed as thousands of angry people, young and old, marched by. While they were certainly angry, they were vulgar as well. The No. 1 argument of the day didn't concern George W. Bush, Dick Cheney or even oil. The most often repeated argument consisted of a certain four-letter word not fit for print, followed by a hand gesture to ensure that those not able to hear over the noise got the point anyway. This argument was then quickly adopted by those protesting for the war. Yes, Sept. 15 was the day no middle finger would go unused. Unfortunately, it didn't work for either side, and both went home feeling exactly the same as they had in the morning. Then again, save for a few times in the '60s, I don't believe that persuasion has been the point of protests anyway.

Protesting has never been about public policy; it is about the individual. Together these people aren't changing the world as they profess to be: They are paying homage to their own guilt-ridden consciences for having been born into a country which provides for them with the carrot or the stick. Since religion is clearly out of favor among liberals, confession won't do. To cleanse your soul, simply pick up a sign and voice your displeasure with your wonderfully comfortable lifestyle. I found it interesting that at the "die-in," most of the hard core protesters were not even willing to lie in the grass to end this "immoral war". No, instead, I watched as person after person picked up their signs and went home. It was, after all, past 4 p.m. and quickly nearing Saturday night party time. In fact, raise your hand if you went out partying after the protest.

It has always been fashionable to fight against power. Something about authority just pisses people off, and usually it is rightfully so. Governments make lots and lots of mistakes, and as a result, an argument can easily be made in opposition. Unfortunately, it is still not in style to be realistic. Most protesters are content comparing Hitler, the man responsible for the death of millions, to our president - the man who has come to a different conclusion about an aspect of our foreign policy. Never mind that this comparison is utterly offensive to those of us with more personal or religious ties to World War II.

If George Bush is a Nazi in the eyes of the protesters (and it is clear that he is), then by all means, slap a swastika on my shoulder and call me Wolfgang because I, like my commander-in-chief, support the Iraq war. And while we are at it, let's label the other 44 percent of Americans who support the "war Nazis," too. In fact, in 2003 when the war began, 75 percent of Americans were Nazis, just like me. But that was back when it was still fashionable to be patriotic, er, I mean fascist.

Charlie Szold is a freshman in the School of Public Affairs and a conservative columnist for The Eagle.

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