[sixties-l] Baby boomers must confront peace vs. war (fwd)

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Date: Mon Oct 08 2001 - 19:45:13 EDT

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    Date: Mon, 08 Oct 2001 13:02:47 -0700
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Baby boomers must confront peace vs. war

    Baby boomers must confront peace vs. war


    October 7, 2001

    I knew all the slogans. I knew all the songs. Like a lot of kids in the
    '60s, I was drawing peace signs long before I was eligible for Vietnam.
    I could sing John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance."
    I saw "Make Love Not War" spray painted on Volkswagen vans.
    You cannot help the era in which you grow up. It infuses you. It shades
    you. So as someone weaned on doubting war, I was surprised to find myself
    interviewing a member of the "peace movement" last week and getting angry.
    "We do not support killing innocent women and children," she said.
    "We topple one government, and the next one is even worse," she said.
    "You keep escalating the fighting, and you know where that leads?" she
    said. "World War III."
    No one wants World War III. And yet the notion of peace, of not fighting
    back in this sudden war on terrorism, is so disturbing to most Americans
    that the same antiwar protesters who once spoke for much of the nation have
    now become the targets of tomato tosses.
    Had I become one of the tossers?
                                  Arguing a position
    In the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Congress voted almost
    unanimously to support the president in military action. Only one member,
    Barbara Lee of California, cast a no vote. Although she only wanted "to
    make sure Constitutional laws were not suspended," she nonetheless received
    tens of thousands of hate-filled e-mails, as well as death threats.
    There is something odd about that. Death threats for someone calling for
    peace? Death threats from Americans who are angry about, well, death
    threats to Americans?
    It only points out the baby boomer's uncomfortable posture. We have seen
    the folly of certain foreign wars. We hate senseless violence. Yet we have
    been struck. And a bleeding nation is different than one on the sidelines.
    So I tried to explain to my peace movement activist that this was not
    Gandhi against the British. This was not North versus South Vietnam. This
    was not the United States against a certain country where negotiations
    between leaders might save us from bloodshed.
    My arguments failed to persuade. Instead she reeled back and said, "Maybe
    we should examine our foreign policies and see why the rest of the world
    hates us so much."
    And that was where she lost me.
                                  Signs of maturity
    I am not so naive that I think the United States has not supported some bad
    guys over the years, some foolish dictatorships, some military coups. I
    know we swing our weight on trade and the environment, often to the dismay
    of other nations.
    But I also know we provide more aid than anyone to the rest the world. We
    feed other nations. We protect them. We certainly finance them.
    We support Israel, sure, but every president from Jimmy Carter on has tried
    to get the parties in the Middle East to sit down and resolve their
    problems. And even when we have conflicts with other nations, we don't
    encourage American zealots to dive bomb their office buildings and kill
    their innocent people.
    In this new war, we are dealing with an enemy that speaks only the language
    of death. And although no one wants World War III, you can't sit around
    passively while a handful of lunatics, who, by the way, would happily blow
    up a peace rally if the participants didn't believe in their religion, take
    over the world.
    So what have I become? A hawk? A warmonger? I hope not. I still see the
    horror of it all. I still advocate only action directed at terrorists, not
    hurling bombs so we can kick some butt. And I never want peace advocates to
    be silenced.
    But I am no longer a kid with a Magic Marker who draws symbols with no
    understanding of what they mean. Bloodshed is not neat and tidy. And
    protecting one's country is not the same as trying to take one over. You
    draw a line, and you say no more. If that's called growing up, so be it.
    Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or albom@freepress.com. Catch "Albom in
    the Afternoon" 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760) and simulcast on MSNBC 3-5

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