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Protest without Principle

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Jim Opionin By Jim Powers
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As Canada began the process of breaking up the Truckers Convoy that paralyzed the movement of commerce across the border with the U.S. for days, Sen. Rand Paul, when asked about it in an interview with The Daily Signal, said he was all for trucker convoys protesting Covid 19 mandates in the U.S.

“Civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition in our country, from slavery to civil rights, you name it. Peaceful protest, clog things up, make people think about the mandates.”

Born in 1950, I’m firmly in the often notorious “Boomer” generation. I came of age in the 1960s, the age of Hippies, long hair, “tune in, drop out”, Woodstock, Rock and Roll, and Vietnam.

For those too young to remember the Vietnam war, it kind of resembled the trajectory the U.S. took in Afghanistan. Except that 58,000 young Americans, most who were conscripted into fighting a war they no longer believed in, had died, and 150,000 wounded by the time the U.S. bailed out in a spectacular scene of the last of the Americans there being evacuated by helicopter from the top of a building as the communist North Vietnamese moved in. Those who fought in that war are heroes. Our government that escalated it, not so much.

The war ended because the American people had enough of sending their sons to die in a proxy war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. There was a theory in those days, the Domino theory, that if the communists took over in Vietnam, it would be like a domino falling that would ultimately bring down S.E. Asia and ultimately the U.S.

There were daily protests in the streets of U.S. cities, on college campuses, in D.C. There was violence. And those constant protests escalated to such a fever pitch that it eventually led, in 1968, to President Lyndon Johnson making the announcement that “Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”

American young men, and American parents had given enough. And their voices finally could not be ignored.

The Vietnam war, which we entered in earnest in 1964, ended in 1975 when we left in defeat.

The power in protest is not the size of the crowd or the words on the signs or the volume of the voices. The power in protest is the righteousness of the cause. 

Stopping the carnage that took 58,000 American lives was a righteous cause. Fighting the fight that Dr. Martin Luther King fought against segregation and racism was a righteous cause. 

How righteous is the cause of trying to overturn a democratically elected President? Or attacking the U.S. Capitol? Or as Rand Paul advocated, using a truck convoy to shut down the economies of U.S. states and cities to protest mandates shutting down the economies of U.S. states and cities (hypocrisy is the word for that)? 

None of those protests could achieve their goals because those ultimately directing them knew they would fail. The real goal was not to advocate for a righteous cause, but, as the Bard said, “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

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