Violence and Peace

Violence and Peace

Copyright 2003, Traffic World, Inc.

Hanging on my office door is a newspaper photograph of anti-war protesters marching in San Francisco last month. They are carrying a huge banner that reads: "We support our troops when they shoot their officers."

This wasn't an idle jest. As everyone knows, a U.S. Army sergeant, a Muslim who questioned the wisdom of the war in Iraq, is charged with killing two U.S. military officers and wounding 17 others in a grenade attack in Kuwait a week after that protest.

So what does this have to do with transportation and logistics? Quite a bit. There are hundreds of Reserve and National Guard officers on active duty, on leave from their careers in transportation and away from their families. The casualties from that grenade attack could have been your co-workers.

Despite their politically correct media label of "peace activists," many of these protesters advocate violence against members of the military and local police officers, vandalism of stores and public property, and illegally shutting down businesses and highways.

And last week, these same protesters illegally shut down several terminals at the Port of Oakland (see story on page 8). Who are these protesters? The sponsors of these protests are Socialist organizations with publicly stated aims of sabotaging the American economy, ending capitalism, disbanding the U.S. military, destroying Israel, justifying terrorist attacks on the United States and supporting the brutal dictatorships in North Korea, Iraq and Cuba, as Salon.com columnist David Horowitz of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture says.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union is bitterly complaining that its members were unjustly attacked by Oakland police officers who dispersed the protesters at the marine terminals. But ILWU members should be asking why a radical left faction of its union is supporting these protesters and a chief aim of their sponsoring organizations: attacking international trade, the reason for dockworkers' jobs.

Don't get me wrong. I support the right of everyone to protest peacefully. The police should be disciplined if they acted improperly. I am not alleging that the ILWU members injured last week did anything to trigger the police response or were even actively protesting. I wasn't there. Americans have the right to espouse their political views, however misguided. And while the organizers of the protests in Oakland, San Francisco and most anti-war rallies are Communist groups (they call themselves more palatable names, like democratic anti-capitalist collectives), most protesters themselves would disavow that label.

The two chief organizers of the Bay Area protests are Direct Action to Stop the War and International ANSWER. Even the very liberal magazine American Prospect says ANSWER seeks not peace, but the radical aims of the World Workers Party. ANSWER is a minority within the radical anti-war minority, the American Prospect says, and "can be described fairly as Marxist." Marxist regimes have killed millions upon millions of innocent people and have a great deal in common with Saddam Hussein. The Direct Action to Stop the War website espouses "radical social change" and anti-capitalism.

So why should ILWU members be concerned? The docks shut down because ILWU members supported the protesters and refused to go to work. A radical activist and anarchist news service said "strong anti-war sentiments by longshoremen ... kept large portions of the Oakland docks shut down for most of the day." The San Jose Mercury News reports that "many rank-and-file members of ILWU Local 10 oppose the war in Iraq, and the local has its own Anti-War Action Committee." A Local 10 representative spoke for the union when he took the stage at an ANSWER rally in Washington last year and chanted "President Bush, stay off the dock; stay out of Iraq."

ILWU members who don't support radical views should ask why some of their leadership does, and whether their dues support these radical groups.