The Costs Of Protesting Against War
ALICIA COLON

Not every anti-war protester is a leftist, Marxist rabble-rouser. That person in the crowd might be a neighbor or friend whom you know to be a wonderful, caring individual. The tendency to affix harsh labels to those with opposing views is tempting but unfair. It was during an interview with a nun that I realized the only thing we agreed on about the war in Iraq is that war is hell.When a country should go to war is an age-old quandary made more difficult because there are those who believe the answer is — never.

I was writing a story about St. Rose’s Home, an extraordinary facility in Lower Manhattan for indigent terminal cancer patients founded by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s daughter, Rose. Every religious person with whom I had previously discussed the upcoming presidential election had indicated to me that they were voting for President Bush because of his prolife position; I was therefore surprised when the nun who had taken me on the tour of the facility said she wasn’t sure — “because of the war.”

When Vice President Cheney was visiting Staten Island for a Vito Fossella fund raiser, I recognized a few of the protesters across the street from the Excelsior, where the event was taking place. While those making the most noise were the ubiquitous, and graying, baby boomer protesters, standing silently next to them were what I call the good-hearted do-gooders.These are the people I’ve seen manning the soup kitchens and running the drives to help Katrina victims.They volunteer to help others whenever they can. All they see in the war in Iraq is our dead and wounded soldiers and the collateral damage that claims the lives of innocent Iraqi women and children. What they may not recognize is how they have contributed to the slaughter by encouraging our enemy with their protests.

It has taken decades for the truth about the Vietnam War to be uncovered, and that message has still not

penetrated the public conscience, because those responsible for the coverup refuse to admit their guilt. In fact, with their selective and deceitful coverage of the war on terrorism,the mainstream press and some broadcast journalists are attempting to repeat what they consider their coup over the American military establishment.

It was after the most trusted man in America — Walter Cronkite — declared the Vietnam War a “stalemate” in his February 27, 1968, broadcast that support for the war began to erode. He completely misled the public about the Tet Offensive, during which the Vietcong suffered considerable damage. In his memoir, “Following Ho Chi Minh: Memoirs of a North Vietnamese Colonel,” Bui Tin confirms that the North Vietnamese suffered a devastating defeat in the Tet Offensive in 1968. Their forces in the South were nearly wiped out, but they had achieved a political advantage because support for the war in America was waning. “Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9 a.m. to follow the growth of the anti-war movement,” he wrote.The North Vietnamese were elated by visits from Jane Fonda, Ramsey Clark, and others, because it gave them the confidence to hold on during battlefield losses, he wrote.

The Tet Offensive took place in 1968, but the war dragged on until 1973, taking the lives of thousands of American soldiers. It’s highly unlikely that the protesters back then will now admit any responsibility for prolonging a conflict that might have had different results if America had been a nation undivided in its mission. The author of “Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey,” David Horowitz, is one of the very few.

What is happening today in Iraq is nothing short of phenomenal, but that’s not the impression being relayed by the press.Yes,brave soldiers are dying every day, and it really doesn’t help to insist that these numbers are much smaller than in any other war. It doesn’t stop the pain of the Cindy Sheehans and other families who’ve lost loved ones. I would only ask that they consider the increase in the so-called insurgents since their protests began. How much easier has it become to recruit and import “insurgents”to an Islamic jihad buoyed by the protests of Americans at home?

In 1968, there was no Internet and news could be filtered and distorted. In 2005, we hear the good news straight from the horses’ mouths on our computers. Our soldiers can blog the truth from all over the Middle East, as can Iraqis who are overjoyed to be rid of one of the cruelest despots in history.

Ignorance of the truth is no longer an excuse for either the rabble-rouser or the do-gooder.

acolon@nysun.com undefined

Ellie

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