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One conflict, two viewpoints, and disagreeing with both of them…

July 10, 2011, 10:18 AM

About a month ago, anti-war group ANSWER had announced an anti-war demonstration for noon on July 9 in front of the White House. I had expected a typical ANSWER demonstration, with a stage somewhere, sound, a zillion speakers all talking about their own pet issues (whether it’s really on message or not), and a zillion people all handing out their group’s flyers. This was not that. This demonstration was a small demonstration, with ANSWER-sponsored demonstrators marching in a small circle in front of the White House, and then a row of counter-demonstrators nearby.

And here’s how it looked, first the ANSWER side:

The ANSWER side of the demonstration

The ANSWER side of the demonstration

The ANSWER side of the demonstration

The ANSWER side of the demonstration

And then next to them, the counter-protesters:

The other view on the Libya conflict

The other view on the Libya conflict

The other view on the Libya conflict

The other view on the Libya conflict

And together, on video:

And unfortunately, neither group had a message that I could fully support. ANSWER’s side opposed NATO action in Libya, but also supported Colonel Gaddafi – note the use of the solid green flag of Gaddafi’s Libya. Then the other group supported the ouster of Colonel Gaddafi and waved the flag of the Libyan Republic (see Flag of Libya for information on both of these, by the way), but at the same time, they supported NATO intervention in Libya. Thus both sides had something I liked, but both sides also had a big sticking point that prevented me from being able to embrace either group’s cause.

My view on Libya is that this is something that the Libyan people have to do for themselves. Colonel Gaddafi is a terrorist and a wacko, and desperately needs to be unseated, but NATO should never have gone in to try to be ones to do it. It is not our responsibility to go in and straighten out these sorts of countries. This really is a domestic issue – for Libya. The US and NATO have butted in where they don’t belong, spending your tax dollars and mine on unnecessary wars. Also, with foreign military forces in Libya, it’s also not our role to “finish” any alleged job. We made a mistake, but it’s not too late to correct it and leave.

Meanwhile, ANSWER has officially fallen to a new low, and caused me to lose what little respect I may still have had for them (and my opinion of them was pretty low going into this). The message that I took from ANSWER’s demonstration was that war is bad, but brutal dictators that will gladly kill their own people are great. That’s the wrong idea. Violence is violence, and violence is wrong whether you’re doing it to your own people or to the people of another country. And isn’t turning the military on one’s own people an act of war in itself? I believe ANSWER just undermined its own anti-war message with this one. Seriously, I still respected them a little (very little) for being able to bring out the anti-war crowd, but when you’re supporting dictators who wage war against their own people, you have lost your way. Thus in my opinion, ANSWER is now irrelevant because while they claim that they are “anti-war”, they are supporting dictators who wage war against their own people.

So all in all, I spent about 45 minutes there, just photographing away and getting a handle on what was going on. I was quite disappointed that neither group had a message that I could fully support, but those are the breaks, I suppose.

Categories: Anti-war