Free speech, criticism need not resort to name calling

According to recent news reports, the same groups who organized earlier antiwar demonstrations and marches before “Operation: Iraqi Freedom” were back again on Saturday in various demonstrations around the world to mark the one-year anniversary of the start of the invasion.

According to a Reuters report, t-shirts spotted at a rally in President Bush’s home of Crawford, Texas read, “Crawford, Texas, Bring your village idiot home.” Honestly, do you have to call everyone you disagree with an idiot? I’m all for free speech, but calling someone an idiot isn’t exactly a sound argument, especially considering that President George W. Bush graduated from Yale.

A quote in the same Reuters story from one of the protesters said, “The thing they all object to is Bush. It doesn’t make sense to bomb countries that have nothing to do with Sept. 11.”

Since when have U.S. foreign policy goals been narrowed down to only protecting us from those who attacked us on Sept. 11? Following this logic, we shouldn’t be concerned about other threats like North Korea because they weren’t the people who flew planes into buildings.

In London, many of the protesters were carrying “Wanted” posters that bore images of Bush and Tony Blair, implying that they were criminals. Since when is liberating a nation considered a crime? Bush and Blair were simply following through with the enforcement of U.N. resolutions. The real crime is what Saddam Hussein did to his people over the years.

In San Francisco, actor Woody Harrelson joined in the protests. He was quoted as saying, “We want peace.” Try telling that to the millions of Iraqis who would still be under the very nonpeaceful rule of a dictator if Harrelson and the other protesters had their way.

A quote that sums up the feelings of many of the protesters came from a 72-year-old disabled Navy veteran from North Carolina. He said, “I hate George Bush and everything he stands for and this war of vanity.” There’s nothing wrong with having serious policy disagreements with the administration, but to resort to hate and name-calling is childish.

Another sign in a protest in New York City read, “Money For Jobs and Education not for War and Occupation.” Others have called for the money to be put to other programs like government-run health care and what Dennis Kucinich calls a “Department of Peace.”

Sure, it sounds nice, but where in the U.S. Constitution does it say anything about the government providing money for jobs, education or health care? It doesn’t. It does however mention the common defense, as well as armies, a militia and war.

What bothers me most about this whole saga is the fact that protesters seem to have a narrow and somewhat selfish attitude. They are often more concerned about subsidizing entitlements at home than they are about ensuring peace and representative government in a country that has been ravaged by years of oppressive dictatorship.

These groups, by calling for the removal of all troops from Iraq, are as a result calling for a power vacuum in the country that most likely would lead to unsavory elements gaining control of it. Those unsavory elements could very well be militant Islamic groups. The rise of such groups would be a blow to the freedom of the Iraqi people.

But the antiwar protesters don’t seem concerned about that. All they seem to be worried about is that the government is spending money on ensuring peace and freedom in a previously oppressed country rather than subsidizing programs that in all actuality should be left up to the private sector or the time-honored practice of personal responsibility.

They apparently believe that the United States has no responsibility after the war to ensure that the people of Iraq are left in a state that is void of oppression or chaos. Instead, many of them believe that the government should concern itself with increasing the dependence of its citizens upon government through spending more and more money and giving away handouts.

Adam Fowler is a junior majoring in political science.