The Vietnam War was a watershed moment in our nation’s history for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that it birthed well-organized protesters who took to the streets in force — opposing not only the war effort but also the soldiers, Marines, and naval personnel who served in Vietnam. Thanks to Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda’s Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the often-televised protests were well-orchestrated and demoralizing to many families of those who served and died in Vietnam.
The protests by SDS during the Vietnam War evolved into a full-blown protest culture on the left, a culture that continues today through the use of “professional protesters” who show up to picket everything from the Iraq war to the alleged “Christian fascism” of former President George W. Bush. Through various 527 groups, some which pay ready-made protesters “$400 cash per week PLUS ‘free’ housing [and] ‘free’ gasoline,” the left distributes marching orders to its protesters.
Code Pink, one of the left’s best-known mouthpieces, recently posted a press release instructing “bikini-clad activists [to] protest Israeli cosmetics at stores in Santa Monica, Marina del Rey,” on July 28, 2009. Code Pink’s protest of Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories products was ostensibly against Ahava’s “illegal practices” and it’s failure to oppose Israel’s alleged “violations of international law against Palestine,” but as with most of these protests it seems the real target was one the left has sought to destroy for decades now: capitalism in the West.
Yet while such protests and protesters have been a characteristic of the left since the 1960s, it’s safe to say there’s a new wind blowing across not only the plains and wheat fields of heartland America, but also across major cities in Democrat-controlled states like Illinois, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. In these states and many others, protesters are showing up at congressional town hall meetings for something other than $400 or a tank of gas. They’re showing up to fight for freedoms they believe proponents of ObamaCare are poised to take away through an agenda that’s more about taking over health care than reforming it.
And just as the Vietnam War was a watershed moment that witnessed the emergence of the left’s protest culture, bloggers, newshounds, and political junkies can’t help but note that the appearance of politically conservative protesters at town hall meetings is a watershed moment in our time as well.
These are protesters with callused hands, American flags on their t-shirts, and a deep love for the country our Founders designed and which Ronald Reagan promoted as “a shining city on a hill.”
Juxtapose the message of the left’s protesters with those on the right to understand the depth and importance of the phenomenon at hand.
For example, “when [former President George W.] Bush visited Portland, Oregon, for a fundraiser … in 2002, [the left’s] protesters stalked his motorcade, assailed his limousine and stoned a car containing his advisers.” One protester had a placard that read, “BUSH: Wanted, Dead or Alive” and another “held a large photo of Bush that had been doctored to show a gun barrel pressed against [the president’s] temple.”
Such tactics and placards are in keeping with the spirit of SDS protesters who lined up in airports to spit on our military personnel returning from Vietnam, and who held placards in those same airports referring to our military personnel as “baby killers.”
On the other hand, at Senator Arlen Specter’s (D-PA) August 11 town hall meeting, an ObamaCare protester — on whom CNN has fixated because the protester actually mentioned “God” — stood up in front of Specter and said: “You are trampling on our Constitution and our rights.” The protester then made a point our Founders took as axiomatic, saying that even Arlen Specter would have to answer to God on judgment day concerning the government-led assault on the rights of the people.
In response, Specter — with all the haughtiness we’ve come to expect from him — looked at the protester and said: “[If] you want to be led out of here you’re welcome to go.” And although the protester was soon ushered out, to Specter’s chagrin there were plenty more to take his place.
At Senator Claire McCaskill’s August 11 town hall meeting, many of the protesters who attended were doctors who had read the proposed legislation and understood the danger it poses. But since McCaskill, like Specter, had no rational response to the freedom fighters objections to ObamaCare, before the meeting even started the doctors were told they would “not [be] allowed to raise [their] hand to ask a question or shout out.” (Fortunately, some of them did shout out anyway.)
This kind of thing is happening all over the country, in town hall meeting after town hall meeting. And unlike the crowd the left has fielded for decades, the protesters are not hippies for hire, but mothers, construction workers, teachers, and citizens from every socioeconomic background who are concerned that freedom will be destroyed if ObamaCare is implemented.
Grassroots conservatism has finally fielded a group of freedom fighters, and it’s about time.