Wanted: A Protest Movement for Progressive Hawks

Reviving Left Influence in a Time of Rampant Reaction

Except perhaps in academia, I see no sign that the peaceniks I rubbed shoulders with that evening and continue to read on the Internet, in The Nation, and in the Voicehave any chance of catalyzing effective protest, much less an effective movement. That leaves it to the progressive hawks. Given the complexity of the issues, I doubt street action makes sense, but like I say, I'm a foot soldier. If and when anger over Ashcroft's detainee policies reaches the proper boil—in my feckless fantasy, American Muslims of pronounced secular (and feminist) (if also, quite possibly, anti-war) bent would lead the charge—I'll try to be there. Meanwhile, I've just sent an e-mail to www.moveon.org/constitution urging my elected representatives to speak out against Ashcroft's policies. I have serious doubts about electronic protest, but this one came my way, and to me it's clear that shoring up the meager mettle of our legislators is essential work. It's also conceivable that public supporters of the war in Afghanistan can make a difference in such work.

The same applies to all the other outrages we still react against as leftists—the ominous foreign-policy options and the class warfare in this country. I don't know who can put it together, but somebody must have some ideas—that's our specialty, right? The fight against Al Qaeda's brand of terrorism pits the party of this world against the party of the next. That's a polarity that trumps even the capitalism-versus-communism we grew up on. In this world there's far more righteous work to be done than there was on September 10. We can't let our sectarian principles, our reconfigured patriotism, or our fear that nobody gives a shit stop us from it.

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