"It [the State] has taken on a vast mass of new duties and responsibilities; it has spread out its powers until they penetrate to every act of the citizen, however secret; it has begun to throw around its operations the high dignity and impeccability of a State religion; its agents become a separate and superior caste, with authority to bind and loose, and their thumbs in every pot. But it still remains, as it was in the beginning, the common enemy of all well-disposed, industrious and decent men." ~ H.L. Mencken
What I Saw and Heard at the Anti-War Protest
Column by Robert Kaercher.
Exclusive to STR
“Obama! Hey, hey! How many kids did you kill today!?”
That was the chant of many among the 200-300 anti-war protesters on October 8th, including myself. This was right in front of President Barack Obama’s national 2012 campaign headquarters, overlooking that most eye-catching of public boondoggles, Millennium Park, in Chicago, Illinois, right in the very heart of Obama Country.
Liberals, commies, socialists, infowarriors, 9/11 Truthers and yes, fellow pro-free market/pro-peace libertarians, gathered together at Michigan Avenue and the Congress Parkway to vent their frustrations and express their anger at the fact that the U.S. armed forces have now been occupying Afghanistan for an entire decade and Iraq for over eight and a half years. Several people stood up at the podium to express their outrage at the ongoing U.S.-supported Israeli occupation of Palestine and the merciless U.S. drone bombings and clandestine wars in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. These included military veterans of the Terror Wars as well as local political activists.
The most damning testimony came from an older black gentleman whose name, I am sorry to say, I did not get and still haven’t been able to track down. He announced that he had worked under Barack Obama on the left-liberal Project: Vote in 1992. There was a small smattering of scattered applause from the crowd when he mentioned this but he quickly instructed people that there was nothing to applaud. He asked the crowd how many of them knew that the US/NATO-backed rebels in Libya were conducting a program of ethnic cleansing against dark skinned Africans in that country, largely thanks to Obama’s support? He asked how many remembered that President George W. Bush specifically called on Obama as well as John McCain to help Bush push his infamous Big Banker Bailout Bill of 2008 through the Senate?
This gentleman also cited the large base of support Obama still enjoys in America’s black community and referred to this as a “wall” around Obama in which not only Obama himself was enclosed and thereby protected, but which also enclosed all the foreign wars, the assaults on civil liberties, the CIA, the FBI and the whole military-industrial complex and national security state, and so he called on Obama’s black supporters to stop defending him. When he announced that the plan was for all of us to march to Obama’s campaign headquarters, he said that it was to “withdraw our consent”—that’s the exact phrase he used, like music to my libertarian ears—from Obama’s wars and banker bailout policies.
Many of my fellow libertarians may object that the downside of these anti-war demonstrations is that they’re usually dominated by various communistic and socialist ideologues. That was certainly true of this protest. There were more than a few signs claiming that free market capitalism had failed and that socialism was the answer to our current crises. There were plenty of “revolutionary worker” newspapers and pamphlets on display. These are the kinds of things that make the pro-free market/anti-war libertarian gnash his teeth and pull out his own hair. But it didn’t appear to me that there were very many takers for such dogma among the general crowd, which was a very diverse cross-section of middle American suburbanites, “soccer moms” and “soccer dads,” as well as gray-haired seniors and urban hipsters, in addition to the usual Lefty communist types one typically sees at such events.
I should also mention that I had a most pleasant encounter with several local Ron Paul supporters, with whom I spent most of the march as I helped them hold aloft a gloriously huge banner that declared in great big bold letters, “END THE FED.”
Besides, the rally’s Leftist speakers had plenty to say that most libertarians, at least those of us who are more consistently principled, would completely agree with. One Leftist spoke of how he was one of nearly two dozen anti-war activists harassed by the FBI last year. He literally woke up early one morning to the ominous sounds of somebody pounding on his door. He opened it up and some 20 or so Federal agents marched in and rifled through all of his and his wife’s personal papers and effects, eventually carting off some 30 boxes of the couple’s private belongings. The FBI accused all of the targeted activists of being involved with foreign terrorists, of course, citing the most circumstantial and speculative evidence as “proof.” The principled libertarian would be remiss in not defending these activists’ individual rights from government invasion under such a flimsy pretext.
A Lefty professor from the University of Illinois at Chicago recited the long and bloody history of the US government’s destructive foreign wars and called for the defunding of the Pentagon and the total abolition of NATO. Considering that foreign wars are always the basis for expanding and further centralizing big government’s power over all of us, the principled libertarian must surely agree with these proposals.
The anti-war demonstrators moved on to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago at Jackson and LaSalle to join the Occupy Chicago encampment after the march. Unfortunately, I couldn’t join them due to other commitments, but I had stopped by and talked to the Occupy Chicago folks the previous week. Choosing to bypass their usually preferred topics of jobs and redistribution of wealth provided by the central government, I told them how urgent I thought it was that we put an end to all of these stupid, costly foreign wars. The Occupiers enthusiastically agreed. I had to admit that I was impressed that the group had chosen the front door of Chicago’s Federal Reserve Bank for their protest headquarters.
Lefty socialist types targeting the Fed for a demonstration! Now that’s progress!