It’s a gorgeous day in Palmer, Alaska, population around 3,000. There’s finally a hint of spring in the air and brilliant sunshine is lighting up the mountains that rise above the town on three sides. I was slaving away in my underground office and decided to get out and enjoy the day for a while, so I headed for the local McDonald’s.
On the way I was astonished to see a group of antiwar demonstrators walking down the street. I counted the protesters; thirteen, plus a dog. They carried the usual array of signs–“No War,” “Support the Troops–Bring Them Home Alive,” and one I’d never seen before–“War Is Violent.” Hard to argue with that one. They seemed to be having a good time, enjoying the beautiful day like everyone else.
Maybe it’s just that the war appears to be nearly over, or maybe something about the demonstrators seemed more benign than the urban, A.N.S.W.E.R.-sponsored protests I’ve found so despicable, but for once I was on board with the “dissent is a sign of a healthy democracy” point of view. Palmer, Alaska is a long way from San Francisco; for that matter, culturally speaking it’s a pretty good distance from Anchorage. And yet, at a time when American troops are fighting and dying to overthrow a vicious tyrant, these people marched cheerfully up and down the streets waving hare-brained signs, and no one honked at them, yelled at them, gave them the finger or molested them in any way. Is this a great country, or what?
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“Arise and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” Winston Churchill