March 23, 2004,
Being divorced from reality is what being an antiwar protester is all about. For a few hours each year you get to run around disrupting other people's lives, pretending you're doing something socially relevant, and saying things like "War doesn't solve anything" (said last weekend by New York City protester Matthew Stanton) and "If there aren't any soldiers there can't be war" (said by Alabama protester David Waters).
Aside from being great philosophers, antiwar protesters also are adept at seeing the world the way it really is. Page Getz, press coordinator for the antiwar group ANSWER, said during a protest last week in Los Angeles, "We must stop the occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, and elsewhere. The situation in Iraq is getting worse."
Good to know that groups like ANSWER are there to correct the world's major media outlets, who last year showed Iraqis cheering Coalition troops, and who last week reported that Iraqis generally say the war had positive results. On Thursday, as Spain's Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Zapatero called the occupation of Iraq "a fiasco," a poll conducted for ABC News and the BBC found that 48 percent of Iraqis called the war "right" while only 39 percent called it "wrong," and 56 percent said their lives were better after the war. Seventy percent of Iraqis said their lives were either "very good" (13 percent) or "quite good" (57 percent). Someone should ask Howard Dean, who in January said that Iraqi living standards are "a whole lot worse now," about these results.
Seventy-one percent of Iraqis said the job market was better now than before the war. Thirty-nine percent said the availability of electricity was better after the war, compared to 25 percent who said it was worse. Fifty-four percent said security was better after the war, compared to only 26 percent who said it was worse.
On every subject, from security to medical care to schools, more Iraqis said their lives were better after the war.
So, what about antiwar protesters who insist, as one in Iowa did last week, that "What they're saying is that they are happy Saddam was taken out, but conditions are now far worse than they were under his regime"?
Jose Perez, a 39-year-old Gulf War veteran, dealt with protesters on Saturday about as effectively as anyone can. He was in Fayetteville, N.C., home of Fort Bragg, to counter-demonstrate against antiwar protesters.
"Here's the thing. We're right and they're wrong," Perez said.
Then, the Associated Press reported, "As one war protester walked by, Perez told him to get a haircut and join them."
Andrew Cline is editorial-page editor of the Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News in Manchester, N.H.