September 12, 2007
Just saw a great documentary on PBS, The Camden 28, about activism, Vietnam, and the draft, all against the sad backdrop of Camden, New Jersey, where some of the worst race riots in American history took place in the summer of 1971. (Also interesting stuff about the Catholic Left.)
The draft really did a lot to mobilize anti-war feeling. Government jackbootism was much more blatant in that era -- now we have subtler means of control, and the current conflicts are designed to be more palatable and easier to bear / ignore for the American people as a whole. But this film drives home the point that when you really know a war is wrong, you should do something. (There don't seem to be as many hard targets, like draft cards, these days. . . .) But it's not just the war that is wrong, a lot of what has been forced down our collective gullet these past seven years is wrong. Taking a page from the late great Karl Rove, we might ask, Why is this administration so anti-American? Why do they hate freedom? They accuse the anti-war left of cowardice but their motivation and most effective political tool is fear. Those who propagate the current war(s) and defend measures like the Patriot Act are following their conscience -- they feel the threat is real. But even if they're right, we've gone too far and given up too much, precious things that really made/make this country something special. Is it enough to vote for a certain candidate who makes vague coy allusions to issues that matter deeply to us?
The Camden 28 made me proud of those who fight for their beliefs and ashamed of myself for just sitting on the couch watching it. These are the kind of patriotic feelings September 11th stirs in me.
- Philip Ryan, Webmaster