By Damon Krane
November 8, 2005
On November 1, 2005, The Post devoted half of its opinion page to an 11th hour assault on the Athens Can’t Wait Coalition’s November 2 demonstration against the Bush regime and military recruitment for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
First, a piece by The Post’s editorial board proclaimed “Yes it Can” – that is, the word can wait (so clever!) – above a sub-header charging “Protest group all rhetoric, no plan.”
But editorials have word limits. So The Post’s associate editor Dan Rinderle — himself a member of the editorial board that penned the first piece — continued the paper’s onslaught in a second column, entitled “World Can’t Wait’s message irrational.”
Indeed, on their way to classes the morning of November 1, confused OU students might have thought it was move-out week due to how much festering garbage was heaped on the curbs of Athens. But it was merely the contents of The Post’s sidewalk distribution boxes.
For its part, Rinderle’s column displayed an astounding ignorance of U.S. history and a more general failure on the part of The Post to perform even the most basic journalistic fact-checking and research. Indeed, as Rinderle rushed to lodge his foot in his mouth over the tactical inefficacy of walk-outs, no one at The Post even had time to even consult the newspaper’s own recent archives!
I’ve already addressed Rinderle’s piece in greater detail elsewhere, so on to The Post’s main editorial.
Before I deal with the editorial’s substance, however, can someone over at the famed E.W. Scripps School of Journalism please get off his or her fat, tenured ass and give these third and fourth year journalism majors a lesson on basic English grammar? Organizational entities like the Athens Can’t Wait Coalition and The World Can’t Wait are singular nouns. Therefore, you don’t refer to either of them individually with the plural pronouns “their,” “them” and “they,” as The Post’s editorial board does consistently throughout its (note my use of a singular pronoun to refer to an organizational entity) November 1 piece. Not only are the editorial writers making this mistake, but the copy editor(s) are, too. So come on Scripps, apparently the students of your prestigious school missed that day of 5th grade – it’s time for you to pick up the slack! You do have a reputation to protect, after all.
Now, on to the editorial’s substance…
With “Yes it can” The Post’s editors presented nothing less than a thinly-veiled political manifesto – not of any “radical” protest group, but of a group of repulsively selfish college students more concerned with expanding their own privilege than with protecting human life.
To summarize The Post’s position, Bush was democratically elected and the U.S. has a voluntary military. If ordinary Americans are opposed to Bush’s foreign and domestic policies (as some 75 percent of us are), they should persuade people to vote for a candidate with a different policy agenda three years from now. They should not attempt to change policy during the next three years by disrupting military recruitment and trying to force Bush to step down. Thus The Post’s editors write, “Because of their unfair targeting of the military and its recruiters, as well as the hints of radicalism surrounding their intentions, the Athens Can’t Wait Coalition is making a mistake. The average Ohio University student is best to ignore their misguided efforts and continue with class… According to them, tomorrow’s protest is just the beginning. It should also be the end.”
In particular, The Post’s editorial takes a strong stand against violence. The Post admits that the Athens’ Can’t Wait Coalition and The World Can’t Wait “stress nonviolence in their approach.” However, “The challenge of removing a president from office without resorting to violence seems daunting. That is probably why the Athens Can’t Wait Coalition is beginning with something as needlessly obstructive as besieging a recruitment center.” In other words, regardless of its stated commitment to nonviolence, you can expect the ACWC to get violent if it’s already getting disruptive.
Certainly, removing any chief political executive, administration or ruling party from power through any means is a challenge! A less, but still substantial challenge, is changing the policies of political elites without removing them from power. But it has been done before, in the U.S. and elsewhere, sometimes through largely, if not totally, non-violent means. The successful of the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam War movements provide relatively recent examples.
But let’s put The Post’s stance against violence in context, shall we? It seems the newspaper finds violence so abhorrent that the mere “hint” – or, in this case, hypothetical possibility / entirely unfounded accusation – of violence being used to achieve a political goal deprives would-be historical actors of even the vaguest semblance of legitimacy.
Well, that is, unless of course the historical actor is our country’s government, and it has murdered 100,000 people in an illegal war of aggression fought to control access to Middle East energy reserves. In that case, the very real, ongoing and overwhelmingly massive violence of the state is totally fine. As far as The Post is concerned, this violence doesn’t deprive the Bush regime of legitimacy and it certainly does not justify an effort remove the regime from power.
And why is that, students?
Is it because the U.S. government has the right to do whatever it wants, regardless of: a.) international law, b.) worldwide public opinion, c.) the wishes of the people whose countries it has invaded, or d.) the wishes of a 75 percent majority of the American people?
Silly! The answer is obviously “e.) all of the above!”
So go on, professor! Give all those “Posties” an “A” for apathy! (And for being A-stounding Assholes!)
The Post charges coalition organizers are “intent on ignoring” that “President Bush was elected democratically.” I say The Post is intent on ignoring the fact that Adolph Hitler was elected democratically. And no, that’s not to equate the two political executives – it’s to shine a spotlight on the stupendous idiocy of the notion that national elections legitimize international criminality. The Post’s corollary premise, that national elections demand the acceptance of that criminality by the population of the belligerent country, is equally moronic. And let’s not forget that Bush was “elected democratically” by the narrowest margin of any U.S. incumbent president ever, and through a process that the U.S.-based international election monitoring organization, the Carter Foundation, stated was so corrupt that if it occurred in another country, the foundation wouldn’t even bother to send in election monitors.
Yet with current polls showing just 25 percent of Americans now supporting Bush’s policy agenda, The Post’s editors lecture us to remember that democracy, after all, is really just a spectator sport. The job of every responsible citizen is to stay in the bleachers, sitting on his or her hands, until the next presidential election – or, at most, to try to influence the voting decisions of others three years from now. And thank God! Because if democracy was more than a spectator sport, The Post’s editors might have to take time away from working toward the degrees they expect will buy them passage into adult lives of middle class comfort and respectability.
And don’t be fooled by the crocodile tears The Post’s editors shed for those poor soldiers and would-be recruits whose delicate feelings might be hurt by the big, bad, “needlessly obstructive” peace protesters, set on “bullying recruiters” in our “unfair targeting of the military and recruiters.”
“The War in Iraq was not declared by soldiers or their recruiters,” The Post opines for the hapless men and women serving our country, “yet it is those individuals who are being targeted [by counter-recruitment activists].”
Yet in the very next sentence, The Post seems to suggest that soldiers knew what they were getting into and have only themselves to blame.
“Protesters seem to forget that America has a volunteer army,” write The Post’s editors. “Admittedly, there are economic factors that go into a person’s choice to join. However, that is a far cry from the days of the draft.”
I’ve been reading The Post long enough to develop a fluency in Weasel-ese, so let me translate. What The Post’s editors are saying is that it’s perfectly fine for other people to feel like they have to risk their lives for upward mobility – just so long as we middle class, “ordinary Ohio University students” aren’t also at risk of being sent to war. If a draft made this risk an equal opportunity for every American, we’d be forced to resist unnecessary, unpopular, illegal wars of aggression or end up fighting them ourselves. But so long as other people doing the dying, we can get back to blissfully traversing the road to personal financial success! Indeed, we can even do so while hiding behind our supposed respect for soldiers and their service.
It seems that this time around these OU students get an “A” for audacity! (And, of course, another one for being even bigger assholes.)
That’s exactly why I sincerely wish there was a draft – and why the Bush regime almost certainly won’t reinstate military conscription even as a desperate last resort. A draft would be a gift to the anti-war movement. Indeed, it would probably bring an immediate end to the Bush administration’s wars and the Bush administration itself. That’s because a draft would force even the most repulsively selfish people, like Scripps’ finest at The Post, to finally give a shit about other human beings – if only because the fates of the privileged would then be bound up with those of everyone else.
Sadly, a “voluntary military” gives people like The Post’s editors the opportunity to dodge their social responsibility in pursuit of selfish personal gain. Ultimately, the newspaper’s editorial reads like a sophomoric re-write of some of Ayn Rand’s already sophomoric essays in her book, “The Virtue of Selfishness.” It is nothing less than the half-assed political manifesto of a group of privileged college students who, above all else, want to expand their own privilege.
“The world can’t wait? Of course it can! It’s not like I live in Iraq. It’s not like I live in Afghanistan. It’s not like my upward mobility depends on risking my life in the military. I’m not just American, I’m white, damnit! I’m middle class (or I hear I will be as soon as I graduate from Scripps!). And I don’t live in some poor, black section of New Orleans!”
Oh, I’m sorry… Should I “tone down my rhetoric”? I didn’t realize you were trying to study, kids. But it’s time for the rest of us to start acting like adults.
Acting like adults means recognizing our current political predicament and doing what’s necessary to bring about a positive change.
With American opposition to the war on Iraq now reaching a three-quarters super majority, and with U.S. casualties, government mistreatment of U.S. soldiers, and the duration of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan all increasing far beyond original estimates, military recruiters are having difficulty finding new recruits. The more we can make those recruiting numbers drop, the faster we can make the wars stop. The Bush regime may refuse to respect the will of the American people, but it can’t fight wars without soldiers.
Indeed, that’s both the “plan” and the “logic” The Post boldly declares that the Athens Can’t Wait Coalition lacks – the newspaper’s excuse, presumably, for failing to address either. What an “irrational message” indeed!
Can Ohio University’s student newspaper really be overflowing with assholes?
To quote The Post’s November 1 editorial: “Yes it can!”