From the White House War Room to the Gulfstream Waters

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PEOPLE ARE OFTEN NOT what they seem. Not only that, people frequently don’t really believe in the sentiments and ideas they claim to hold.

Which is why I cast a jaundiced eye on the supposed infallibility of public opinion polls, and why I reject the actions of even large crowds as proof of their political attitudes.

A recent article in the daily press announced that adults generally respond to inquiries into their opinions by saying what they think the other guy wants to hear, or something that conforms to an apparently conventional, safe outlook.

That’s obvious. Since most of what they hear and see comes from the mass media, people regurgitate those concepts. And instead of pithy political discourse, a stale and mechanical idea-recycling process results.

We are all victimized by this dead-end, vicious-circle paralysis of public debate.

A terrible war was waged. President Burning Bush said the country overwhelmingly supported it. General Stormtroopin’ Norman, in his haute couture camouflage pajamas, said the troops were all gung ho. The soldiers said so too. TV and press reporters said what Bush and Schwarzkopf had said. Then the man and woman in the street said what all the above said. And the next thing you knew, there was vast exaltation over this super-victorious war, swiftly followed by corrosive despair and demoralization in a peace movement grown bewildered by the support-our-troops demagogues.

The country appeared to be turning ultra-right.

DON’T YOU BELIEVE IT. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy, and few workers, students or retirees in the U.S.A. are all that enamored with the philosophy that justifies the holocaust we rained down on our workingclass sisters and brothers in the Persian Gulf. ”

Even the frenetic welcome parades bespeak more relief and pity than crazed jingoism. In Seattle, the parade committee split into pro- and con-militarism factions, and it’s hard to tell who will produce the larger contingent-the patriots or the protesters.

WHAT AN IRONY. It is so gratifying on this May Day, 1991 that the Moscow parade is mercifully bereft of those menacing fleets of tanks and seas of bayonets that graced Red Square in the long darkness-at-noon era. American troop parades never featured armaments-I never saw any during World War II or any other war. But Seattle’s celebration will be encased in martial hardware; I fully expect to see multicolored, sequin-studded missiles dangling from the Space Needle. Shades of old Joe Stalin!

The Reverse Vietnam/Reward Our Soldiers contagion is just that-an epidemic born of the 4th-of-July yearning to remedy past injustices against Vietnam vets and do something positive, do the right thing, show the right stuff. But how do you express sympathy for hapless kids shanghaied into incinerating the cradle of human civilization-Iraq-from whence most modern culture sprang? How can you cheer an invading force that ruthlessly murdered its own history, its own heritage, its own ancestral homeland?

You can’t. You can’t applaud marauders or bestiality. What you can do is befriend individuals and learn what is truly on their minds and in their hearts. For out of these innocent and misguided troops will come the new antiwar leaders, the new militants, the new revolutionaries. It was ever thus.

DISORIENTED PEACE ACTIVISTS need to take a deep breath, dig in, and peer beneath the surface of things on earth, into the hidden molecular action that reveals the contrasts and conflicts and realities of life that get obscured by misleading exterior surfaces.

War fever is not a constant. Personal demo-fatigue will pass. The Left will resurrect explosively. And a lifestyle of armchair commentary and chic-bitter resignation will pale and wither.

Indeed, many movement dropouts wither away completely- they die too young once they cut ties with their political roots and a culture that looks forward instead of nowhere.

EVERYBODY KNOWS the world is engulfed in the Gulf war’s bloody afterbirth. Nobody except the Bushniks is very happy about it, no matter what pieties they may spout. Someday, sooner than you think, and this side of the rainbow, the angry, afflicted and sensitive people will embark on a voyage of self-discovery that will carry them across the whirlpools of circular logic into an undiscovered harbor swept by fresh breezes-by their recognition of their own deep-seated convictions and hopes for a brave new world.

When people start to unearth the truth about their subterranean wishes and dreams, at that point in history the planet will start becoming habitable. And the revolutionary essence of America will once again bloom.

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