Arrests of protesters and the consequences and dissenting seem to be getting out of hand. During the past week, events featuring known dissenters and have been canceled. However, Americans should understand that protesting the war in Iraq does not mean they should be ostracized or considered national threats — they are using their American right to dissent, and are doing so in largely peaceful ways that should not affect other parts of their lives.
Thursday, the United Way announced it had canceled an upcoming event to promote volunteerism with Susan Sarandon after receiving about three dozen phone calls protesting her appearance. This protest of Sarandon’s involvement is unwarranted. Her anti-war stance on the war in Iraq has no affect on her views of volunteerism. After seeing Sarandon’s silent protest at the Academy Awards, wherein she arrived at the ceremony in an electric car to protest oil and flashed a peace sign while presenting, it was obvious she thought it was an inappropriate forum to blatantly object to the war in Iraq. She did not do what Michael Moore did at the same ceremony by announcing his anti-war views. It is unlikely that Sarandon would have used the United Way event as a platform for her opinions about the war.
Before canceling Sarandon, United Way could have easily spoken with her to make sure she knew the event was not a platform for making anti-war speeches. Sarandon probably would have stuck to the purpose at hand — recruiting volunteers and promoting the benefits of community volunteerism. The United Way completely overreacted and gained the negative press it had most likely hoped to avoid in the first place.
It is wrong to assume that because Sarandon protests the war in Iraq, she is a threat to recruiting volunteers or will use it as a platform to promote anti-war ideas. She knows that different events and circumstances warrant certain behavior, and the United Way should have recognized that and reacted in a positive way to show tolerance during a time when the United States has become a bit divisive concerning the war in Iraq.