War protesters are as American as the rest of us

If our current war with Iraq sustains over weeks and months, the number of people joining such protests will increase. We’ve already seen them in Cottonwood and Sedona.

And if there is anything that should define what we stand for here in America, let’s hope it is our ability to allow those voices to ring loud and clear and long whether we agree with them or not.

We often see headlines in the national news about the arrests of such protesters. Too often, they give the impression that these people are being arrested for staging protests. It’s not the protests that get these people on the wrong side of the law, but, rather, it’s the fact that they break the law for such acts as blocking public thoroughfares. They get arrested for breaking the law, not for staging a protest.

But for those people who stage public protests without committing a crime in the process, this is the absolute personification of the American ideal. We are free. We can peaceably assemble to voice grievances about the actions of our government. Certainly, the people of Iraq can’t lay claim to such freedom; they would risk torture and execution for being critical of Saddam Hussein’s rule.

Most of the polls you see today indicate a great majority of Americans support President Bush’s actions against Iraq. That would indicate those who choose to protest the president’s actions, in a law-abiding manner, are in the minority. That makes them easy targets.

Some war protesters will tell you that they indeed are targets. They find themselves on the receiving end of profanity and insults. Some have had things thrown at them. Some have been assaulted.

And that’s what the Saddam Husseins of the world love to see happen.

Hey, folks, this is America. We are free. We don’t have to agree with those who protest against war, but that does not make them any less of an American than the rest of us.

The example we need to set for the rest of the world is one of tolerance.

That’s what freedom is all about.

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