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September 02, 2007


I think we haven't taken full account of how deeply demoralizing it was when literally tens of millions of people, in the US and around the world, protested before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and were simply ignored. I recall Chomsky was upbeat about how this anti-war movement was years ahead of the Vietnam-era equivalent; unfortunately we were also years ahead on the disillusionment and despair timeline. To be very specific: my Congressional representative is Tom Lantos, whose foreign policy positions (he's actually a mainstream liberal on domestic issues) come straight from the Likud playbook. Should I write and urge him to oppose an attack on Iran? Is there a mass movement somewhere that I can join? No, we're not living under fascism; I post this comment without fear of a 2 am knock at my door (I'm a white, US-born, 65-year-old pensioner; I demonstrated in 2003 but basically I've been quiescent for 20 years.) But for all the effect we can have on US policy, we might as well be.

P.S. Although I followed a link from your comment at Tony Karon's blog, I'm not Tony but another rootless cosmopolitan.

I looked at that study and while I applaud the intentions, I think it's a pretty slender reed. The increase in laws passed correlates only weakly (at least from a glance--they supplied no math) with the measured level of protest and in fact seems to correlate more strongly with who was in the White House, rising under Carter, declining under Reagan and Bush I, staying low under Clinton, and still low under Bush II. And environmental protection is generally defined as a domestic issue; on foreign policy, and above all Middle East policy, there's a long-standing bipartisan consensus that's much less amenable to protest. I don't mind sending Lantos or Pelosi or Boxer or Feinstein a letter, but I can't make myself believe it will make a shred of difference.

When you read literature and journalism from the late 30's (Auden's ":september 1, 1939" for example) it's striking how many people saw the next war coming, had indeed foreseen it in the shape of the post-1918 world; these were people with vivid memories of the WW1 slaughter, let they knew (as Auden said) "we must suffer them all again." There's a terrible sense of inexorability in the world these days, about the attack on Iran, the climate-change tipping points, and much else; we can go down protesting or quietly, and if there's a posterity to remember us that may matter to them, but I think we're for the chopper either way.

Well rootless, even if you are right, I plan to squeak a little as the Giant Raccoon of Fate chomps me in its jaws. You ought to hear the horrible noises from our city garden at night as the raccoons (or feral cats?) slaughter roof rats in the dark. RRRRR (growling) and PEEP PEEP PEEP. THe peeping is quiet but terrible. I shall go down like that, peeping and squeaking like a valiant rodent.

"Quiet but terrible," a disturbingly vivid description. I will phone Lantos' office about the Barbara Lee resolution; as you say, there's a certain minimum of self-respect we rodents have to cling to.

Thank you, rootless, I am grateful for your effort.

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