Here's a copy of a letter to the editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press that I sent today.
About seventy folks gathered at Vera Cruz Park on Saturday (10/27) to protest the ongoing nightmare that is the Iraq war and occupation. After songs and speeches, some of us spread out in small bunches along State Street to display antiwar signs, while a few others paraded along the sidewalk singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.” It was a finely planned—indeed, a refined—demonstration of opposition to the Bush administration’s actions in Iraq. It was met by smiles and thumbs-up from passersby, as well as supportive honks from the stream of cars that filled the boulevard.
The key words in the previous paragraph are “small bunches” and “a few.” This immoral war has been grinding on for almost five years, and despite widespread opposition to it by a majority of Americans—and despite the urgent efforts of the organizers of Saturday’s demonstration—we could muster only handfuls of protesters? Have we become so preoccupied with purchasing, so attached to routine, so conditioned by media and government that we don’t care anymore what is happening in our name around the world? Have we become “the good Germans” of the 1930’s who remained mute while their government took over first them, and then Europe?
The cartoon character Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” His creator, Walt Kelly, meant it to apply to Americans’ silence in the face of McCarthyism in the 1950’s. I fear it applies to Americans now, with equal force and with even greater ignominy.
Update: The letter was published in the News-Press on 11/1/07.