After President Bush has proceeded with war, ignoring all dissent (as not to be ruled by focus groups), the storm of protest has been immense. On the morning after the war began, people took to the streets to express their displeasure with the Bush administration’s actions.
As there has been all along, these demonstrations included a wide range of protesters. Students, union members, teachers, elderly, anarchists, Democrats and clergy, just to name a few, marched side by side.
What separated these demonstrations from the others leading up to this point was the prevalence of civil disobedience.
I have heard many people, both in the media and members of the public, criticizing these actions. However, what they all fail to realize is the necessity of civil disobedience to any social movement.
American history textbooks are rife with examples of civil disobedience. The American Revolution was instigated by such acts as the Boston Tea Party, which was simply property destruction to make a point.
Thomas Jefferson, in penning the Declaration of Independence, justified the disobedience of the colonists. Further, he stated that Americans from this point forward would have not only the right, but the duty, to disobey a government acting outside of their interests.
The great American author Henry David Thoreau wrote a paper on this subject. The United States was at war with Mexico in Thoreau’s time, however, his words still ring true today. He declared the state was simply a tool used by the ruling class to reach their own goals in “the present Mexican war.”
He felt that the American people should disobey the laws of the State, as the government failed to act in the interest of the masses. Replace the word “Mexico” with “Iraq” and you have an accurate assessment of the current situation.
I guess some things never change.
Martin Luther King, Jr., who read Thoreau, applied the theories of civil disobedience to the struggle for civil rights. The most famous and powerful images of the Civil Rights Movement involve instances of non-violent civil disobedience.
The point has arrived where the government no longer represents our interests, and direct action has become a necessity.
This war, a war of economic imperialism, is a prime example of the oppression of the ruling class, both in American and Iraq. Saddam is a dictator who has oppressed his people for years, stealing food from their mouths and giving it to his elite class.
Bush, under the guise of liberating Iraq’s people and defending the world, has invaded Iraq to topple Saddam and install a new regime sympathetic to American business. Who will put their lives on the line to “decapitate” a dictator whose rise to power was assisted by the U.S. 30 years ago? Not Bush’s kids, not Powell’s kids, not Rumsfeld’s kids and not Cheney’s kids. The children of the working class will be the most likely to do this job. It is simply an example of the working class exploited at the gain of the ruling class, and, although not as pronounced, follows the same principles as Saddam’s exploitation.
These are drastic times, as the lives of innocent American soldiers and innocent Iraqi civilians are on the line, and they call for drastic measures. All around the country, concerned people have been engaging in acts of civil disobedience. These actions are crucial to stepping up the anti-war activity. In our area, hundreds of people have submitted themselves for arrest by blocking streets, intersections and government buildings from pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
In fact, I would like to dedicate this article to my comrades at Rutgers-Camden, who are now facing heavy penalties for shutting down the Federal district of Camden in protest of the unjust actions of the government.
The willingness to disobey laws dictated by an unjust governing body shows incredible dedication to humanity. The civil disobedience in this era of social movement will stand in a long history, reaching back to the birth of the nation. Those who participated will be remembered among the true Patriots, rather than those who blindly followed Bush’s death edict for our troops and innocent Iraqis.