Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Sign of Spring for St. Patrick’s Day in Washington, D.C.

It is part of the legend of St. Patrick that, along with bringing the Gospel to Ireland, (which is not a legend), the saint drove all the snakes from the island.

As you can see in the Michelle Malkin/Hot Air video of the pro-troop counterdemonstration in Washington on Saturday, something equally beneficial has begun: Americans began driving out the gibbering demons of the Vietnam-style antiwar movement.

The only era of protest I’ve ever witnessed was that brought to a boil in the 1960s, so I can’t know for sure how demonstrators of ages past behaved. Angrily, I’m sure, or they wouldn't have been driven to march, to picket, to seek their redress.

But there is anger, and then there is untethered wrath and outrage. I'm sure the Bonus Marchers were angry who wanted justice in the form of a payment of promised veterans benefits from their country, and the Suffragettes were angry who wanted the justice of the right to vote from their country, and the civil rights marchers before 1965 who wanted the justice of equality before the law from their country.

But the Vietnam demonstrators brought a whole other order of anger to their cause, as they wanted the justice of the death of their country—and the triumph of their country’s enemies. I never heard that the Bonus Marchers, mad as they were at the Hoover administration, carried signs with pictures of the Kaiser on them, chanting that the Yanks were the real Huns, and the Stars and Stripes the real emblem of imperialism and slavery.

It was encouraging to see the Move America Forward and Gathering of Eagles folks behaving in an exemplary way—in contrast to the tiresome outrage and profane antics on the left. The power of the Vietnam-era protests were that they really were staged in defiance of a majority of Americans who remained silent. The escalating audacity of the protesters’ behavior and anarchic principles grew out of the assurance that theirs were the only voices allowed to be raised—and if anyone dared question them, they would be trampled to death by a sympathetic media.

Mixing that kind of privilege with moral indolence has to breed steadily more outrageous behavior—why just march against sending more GIs to Southeast Asia , when we can sing songs praising Mao and Ho Chi Minh? Why just burn draft cards when we can fuck in the streets?

Although it is irritating that those who turned out in significant numbers on Saturday to support the troops were by general consent ignored by the press—the important thing is that the antiwar side is at last being denied the monopoly of public protest they have enjoyed as a birthright now for more than 30 years. They are still free to protest, but their freedom is no longer free.

If not exactly the equivalent of St. Patrick driving the snakes from Eire, at least St. Patrick's Day in Washington was a taking back of territory too long ceded to the empire of the left.