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Portland Press Herald
The U.S. Flags Are Coming Back Out - This Time To Stay?; A Lot Of Young Folks Are Teaching Us Something Vital Every Night On The News
By M.D. Harmon
April 7, 2003
Looking at all the signs carried by protestors comparing their country to Nazi Germany and President Bush to Hitler, I found myself wondering a couple of things.
The first was, with so much actual tyranny in the world, why are they so fixated on libeling the planet's most open democracy when it acts in the defense of its people?
But, perhaps we know that reason. It's the same reason a whole zoo of leftists flocked to Baghdad as "human shields," and then grabbed the next bus out of town when they were asked to actually defend something that might be a real target, rather than schools, hospitals or mosques.
They didn't seem to realize those places already have their own human shields, as their students, patients and worshippers protect them from anything but an accidental strike.
By way of contrast, ponder why (as has been noted elsewhere) there are no leftists trundling off to be human shields on Israeli buses.
There was outrage recently when an Israeli bulldozer crushed a young American woman trying to stop the machine from destroying a Palestinian house underneath which were found tunnels used to smuggle weapons and terrorists across the border.
She did not deserve to die. However, I noticed that very few U.S. papers carried the earlier photos of her teaching Palestinian children how to rip up and burn an American flag. Did she love peace, or just hate her country and one of its allies enough to side with those who also hate them?
Still, if Saddam and Palestinian terrorists are worth human shields, why not Israeli civilians on buses? Or, for that matter, U.S. troops?
The activists appeal to the West's conscience and rely on its restraint to observe common standards of human decency. Why would they think appeals to Saddam's conscience, or the human decency of an Islamic Jihad homicide bomber, would be less persuasive?
Could it be that, despite their anti-Western posturing, the leftists do understand that their lives aren't worth anything more to tyrants and terrorists than those of the people those evil men set out to slaughter?
Actually, there could be considerable moral clarity coming out of this whole experience. As our troops continue their advance, crushing Saddam's criminal defenders and bringing food, water and freedom to his former subjects, something noticeable is changing in the very air around us.
It's tentative yet, and it's not something you can measure with focus groups or opinion polls. Yet, I see Americans beginning to reverse what has been a trend since the 1960s of putting their country down.
It seems fewer are now accepting without question or complaint the criticisms of those graying critics whose views were nurtured in anti-Vietnam dissent - which started out protesting the war and ended up rooting for a Communist victory. As our leaders show they have indeed learned the "lessons of Vietnam" - that we should be slow to fight, but once we do, there is no substitute for victory - we are recalling, as 9/11 reminded us, that we are Americans.
Flags are flying again, as people are observing every night what freedom costs. While pampered rock and film stars posture about "peace" without lifting a finger to secure it, the nation's real heroes bring it closer and more secure with every day that passes on the fields of Iraq.
What has been happening on our TV screens over the past couple of weeks is a battle of ideas, as chants shouted on the streets by protestors were directly confronted by the values being defended under fire by our nation's best young people abroad.
It's been no contest. The protestors are being routed as thoroughly as the Republican Guard.
The idea to "embed" journalists in military units was (perhaps unintentionally) brilliant - both for the impact of their reports here at home and, perhaps, for the effect that sharing the risks and closeness of combat will have on those same journalists.
Won't it be good if they look at their country differently when they resume writing and broadcasting about normal events again?
Ordinary Americans, too, just might start countering those teachers and professors (and journalists) who tell our kids every flaw and mistake we ever made, and never bother to recount our glorious successes.
For too long they've ignored how America has brought freedom and prosperity not only to itself but to many other nations, seeking not colonies to exploit but friends to trade with around the world. (Note that if you took a vote in Puerto Rico for independence, it would fail badly.)
Meanwhile, this nation remains the goal of freedom-seekers from all over the world. It should remain open to those who seek to come here legally, because they bring a freshness and an appreciation for what they find here that our homegrown critics - right as well as left - appear to lack.
It is not strange that the first two casualties in Gulf War II were foreigners serving in the Marines who hoped to secure their citizenship by their service. They have it now, and it is no less honorable for being posthumous. Indeed, such men honor us.
Perhaps we will even begin to comprehend "honor" again, as well.