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November 17, 2003

Protesting Bush

As Bush prepares for his black-tie dinner with the Queen of England, he seems oblivious to the fact that he's creating so many problems for Tony Blair. More important, he claims to be unfazed by the prospect of being greeted in Britain by huge protests, even as U.S. and British police/security people use the threat of terrorism as an excuse to try to shut down—or at least contain—the protests. But what are these protests all about? Time Europe has a nice first-person account from one of the activists who will be protesting, explaining why she's going to be there. Sure, she's not too happy that the U.S. is sending its old, contaminated "ghost ships" to Britain to be scrapped, as if Britian is a better place for American trash. And she's pretty angry over the war in Iraq and the way Britain seems to have become Bush's lapdog in that affair. But Laura Barton is also angry about something larger of which these developments just seem to be symptoms:

Though our hearts still beat for the land of the free and the home of the brave, we fear something larger is at stake — that Bush's War on Terror is not about liberating the oppressed so much as spreading homogeny, ironing out those troublesome creases to create a smooth, uniform way of life in which our wants and needs and opinions are all chosen from U.S.-approved merchandisers. We worry that America values diversity (and three weeks in California do remind you how multicultural the U.S. can be) because it means more things to sell. After all, a world that aspires to the same broad set of dreams is so much easier to bring into line; if we all dance to different versions of the same tune, it makes the Pied Piper's job a whole lot easier.

I wish Bush would listen to protesters like Barton, but the fact that he won't is what makes his praise for the right to protest ring so hollow. I wish the protesters good luck, and I thank them for their efforts. Although Bush will never understand what you're saying, many others do, and that's what makes the protests worthwhile.

Posted November 17, 2003 06:06 AM | general politics

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