News Anti-War Protests at the Port of Olympia
posted by November 12 at 13:25 PMon
Two months ago, I wrote a column titled “Got Protest?”
Here’s what I said:
Noticing that youth were absent from Baird’s meeting led me to another, more jarring realization: There’s no substantial protest movement at all. For all the complaining we do about Bush’s creepy war on democracy at home to fight for democracy abroad, the left hasn’t actually stood up for democracy at home when we most need to tap its possibilities. No wonder Bush feels okay teaming up with AT&T to clamp down on American citizens.
Locally, the antiwar movement had its only and finest hour (or 24 hours) when a band of protesters occupied Senator Maria Cantwell’s Seattle office in April 2006. Cantwell was forced to alter her position on the war.
Would Baird have given cover to President Bush if he’d known there’d be consequences—confrontations, road blocks at Ft. Lewis, maybe. But Baird knows the tone of today’s antiwar movement isn’t at that scale. Consider: We’re four years into this war. Four years into the Vietnam war this country witnessed the most raucous antiwar protest in the country’s history at the Democratic Convention.
Four years after we invaded Iraq? Baird got an earful from voters like Barbara Wills of Vancouver, who whispered to me at the meeting, “Well, of course, I’m going to vote for him.”
All was quiet as I drove home up I-5, passing Fort Lewis along the way.
Well, there’s action along the I-5 corridor now. Protesters blockading military shipments from the Port bound for Ft. Lewis were pepper sprayed Sunday morning. Three people were arrested. Twelve protesters were arrested on Saturday.
The Olympian reports:
The confrontations Sunday began after about 8:45 a.m., when protesters began marching back and forth across Franklin Street at the Market Street intersection. As 18-wheelers towing cargo began rolling down Market Street about five minutes later, two protesters lay down in the road, creating a human blockade. Police officers sprayed both with pepper spray.
Another caravan of vehicles began leaving the port about 9:45 a.m., prompting protesters to run out ahead of the vehicles. Police arrested at least one man who witnesses said was in the road and later arrested two others.
Those arrested on suspicion of violating the city’s pedestrian interference ordinance were Joshua Elliott, Montgomery Gondolfi and Luke Noble, according to Olympia City Jail.
I was dead set against this war when it started. In a 3000 word essay, that was drowned out by Dan’s 900-word sidebar, I wrote: “Securing sweeping democratic reforms in Egypt and the rest of the aforementioned list of Middle Eastern nations will produce the overdue death knell of bin Ladenism, something attacking Iraq surely won’t achieve.”
But I’ve been reluctant to take an absolutist withdrawal position since then: Scared of the chaos that would ensue; leery of “al Qaeda” victory (Yes. Yes, I get it, but bin Laden is good at spin.) But now I’m all for the get the hell out position. The war is the worst foreign policy blunder in this country’s history. It didn’t work, yo. Acknowledging that as a way to jump start other policy approaches is the only way to diminish the damage.
We need to disengage and focus on al Qaeda (really), help create a Palestinian state; encourage civil rights in states like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.
And so, three cheers to the protesters in Oly. If Bush isn’t going to listen to the 2006 election and the 5000 percent of Americans who show up in polling every month to say the war was a mistake, and we should get out now, I say, shut it down.