We live in fictitious times. We live in a time with fictitious election results that elect fictitious presidents. We live in a time when we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. We are against this war Mr. Bush. Shame on you.”
Michael Moore’s acceptance speech last Sunday at the Oscars was inappropriate. Rather than speaking out on the real issues surrounding the war, Moore chose to lash out against the president, making a mockery of public dialogue on Iraq.
Moore’s comments point to the difference between productive and unproductive means of opposition to government action. The great thing about our right to free speech is that it gives us the right to say anything. This is why it is so important to make sure that the words we choose are truly meaningful and not just a means of blowing off steam.
Like it or not, the United States is at war with Iraq. This does not mean that we should suspend individual opinions, but some courses of speech and action, like Moore’s comments, are counterproductive to the antiwar movement’s aims. It is imperative to weigh the consequences of such action.
San Francisco protestors cost their city $900 thousand a day during the first two days of the war. The costs included pay for police officers and bus drivers, but charges were also incurred by damage done to the city and the cost of cleanup.
These types of protest won’t change the military actions already underway in Iraq, but they do create a perception of antiwar protestors as violent and destructive.
However, there are many other ways that people opposed to the war can effect positive change by taking productive action. If their opposition to the war stems from concern for the Iraqi people, protestors should get involved in humanitarian efforts.
If their opposition is against war in general, causing damage to cities will not help. Opening constructive dialogue, backed by evidence of the reasons behind their opposition, rather than spouting angry rhetoric will.Human Rights Watch is a prime example. According to the April 2002 issue of “American Journalism Review,” this group has extensively studied civilian casualties of bombing campaigns.
Because the group has conducted reliable research and developed figures and analysis to back up its arguments, they carry much more weight.
Regardless of which side they take, it is important for every person to weigh the issues and try to understand the arguments behind the rhetoric with which we are constantly flooded.
Taylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org