Try holding a homemade sign in Saddam’s back yard

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 9, 2003

For some reason, I always thought the generations before me had it a little better. History books and paternal stories have never seemed to carry the complications of today in their recollections of yesterday.

Music, changing as it did, couldn’t have made you cringe like it does now &045;&045; Elvis and his hips included. School room behavior, juvenile as it always will be, didn’t include pistol-toting bullies. And television… How simple it must have been in a couple of black and white channels.

I wasn’t alive for the news coverage of World War II or even Vietnam. Don’t know how much time was dedicated to infantry moves and humanitarian aid packages, but I can promise you that bottom-line news tickers, 24-hour stations and 3-D studio maps were nothing of the sort back then. How nice.

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A few days ago, a faithful reader of our paper told me she was tired of the war.

Yes, we can… next week. I’ve got one more reason to write about this war, and it starts and ends with my darn TV, broadcasting live from somewhere in a Middle Eastern desert.

A couple of months ago, I wrote a column in this space about a friend who had been deployed for war. Little did I know, at that point, the entire Demopolis 167th Engineers would be deployed, and that this war would affect so many people in our immediate area.

When this war took on a personal tone, my interest in it changed, of course. I began to care a bit more about the men and women who have risked their lives and families to fight for a cause I believe is just. Every time TV broadcasters report that a U.S. soldier has died, my ears perk a little, making sure I don’t know the name scribbled on the top of the body bag.

Like so many people in Demopolis, my attention to the war is far greater than it would have been if no soldiers from our state were deployed. And because of that, I watch the TV a bit more than I normally would.

To be real blunt about the whole thing: It’s frightening what I’ve seen on the screen. Problem is, the astonishment doesn’t come from the images taken in the midst of an orange sand storm in Iraq. Rather, I am frightened by what I have seen on the streets of San Francisco, Hollywood, New York and Philadelphia.

War protestors get more air time than they deserve already, but as I learned in journalism school, it’s important to tell both sides of any story. The TV has given us an in-depth look at the people who believe this war is without merit. We get more clips of protesting radicals than we do of church services in small town Alabama, where prayers for the President and his soldiers continuously bounce from the pews to the stained-glass windows.

I don’t mind TV portraying the protestors and their plight; what I do mind is the protestors who have absolutely no idea why they’re against a U.S.-led invasion of a nation that has killed hundreds of thousands of her own citizens.

War protests, as far as I can tell, focus on giving peace a chance. The purple-haired citizens who believe love, not war, is the only way to peace display an almost incomprehensible sense of irony.

Think about it this way: A protest, in itself, is not a peaceful action. Throw out the paradigm "peaceful protest," because there really is no such thing. Sure, people can walk up and down the streets and carry homemade signs, but by walking those streets, they create anguish among other groups of people.

If these anti-war zealots really understood the meaning of peace, they would write President Bush a letter, appear on a couple of talk shows, and ask that the United States end the war against Iraq. They wouldn’t stand in the street and ignore law enforcement officials. There would never be a need to spend time in prison for making a case.

The irony of it all is that the anti-war demonstrators are following the exact course that President Bush took. For months, even years, the United States asked Saddam Hussein to disarm his banned weapons. In a sense, we wrote letters and appeared on talk shows urging the Iraqi leader to stop his self-prescribed war against his own people.

When that didn’t happen, President Bush ordered a protest in the streets of Iraq. That, our commander-in-chief believed, was the only way to change the actions of the Iraqi leader.

Obviously, our nation is founded on the principles of being able to protest &045;&045; whether you dub them peaceful or not is your own prerogative. Had America been void of protests, we wouldn’t have accomplished the civil rights legislation that began in this region of the nation.

What I wish these protestors would do, at some point in their life though, is consider what they’re protesting and how the images they portray on TV affect the citizens and soldiers of our dear land.

If the same group of zealots who clog the streets of San Francisco took their marches to Iraq, and protested what Iraq’s president did, I wonder if they realize what would happen to them. I wonder if they know they’d be hung against a wall, with nails piercing through their fingernails. I wonder if they know they’d be asked to recite Saddam’s creed (if there is such a thing.) I wonder if they know that right after their recitation, they would receive a bullet through the forehead.

It’s too bad we have citizens who have absolutely no clue that they live in a nation that cares about world peace. It’s too bad they don’t understand that these United States can help bring world peace by calling the hand of rogues like Saddam Hussein.

For my part, though, it’s too bad we don’t have black and white televisions with two channels. That way, we wouldn’t have to watch these creeps in the first place.