In the early hours of Operation Iraqi Freedom, anti-war demonstrations continued to break out across the U.S. The media continued to devote widespread coverage to the protests. For example, the Los Angeles Times reported that 100,000 participated in a “festival of resistance” in San Francisco. Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, also witnessed protestors disrupting traffic and closing major thoroughfares as military operations began.
The LA Times quoted demonstrators claiming to be disgusted by their country and sickened by U.S. aggression. But this time around, demonstrators are supposed to differentiate between opposition to the war and support for the military. And the New York Times did quote one demonstrator who said she wanted to clear up any misconception about the movement not supporting our troops. She said that demonstrators do support the military, they just are opposed to the war.
That is part of a concerted effort by the anti-war movement not to repeat the Vietnam experience, when protestors spat on U.S. servicemen and called them “baby killers.” Although movement leaders deny it, they want to avoid any repeat of the fallout of actress Jane Fonda’s trip to Hanoi in 1972.
Recall that Fonda was photographed sitting astride a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun used to shoot down American airplanes. And she publicly called for U.S. servicemen to defect to the Viet Cong during her Hanoi visit. Tom Hayden, the actress’ former husband, says that the Nixon White House used Fonda’s trip to discredit the anti-war movement. But resentment against Fonda and the anti-war movement among veterans’ groups and other Americans burned on for years.
Anti-war leaders say they don’t want to make that mistake again. They recently held a conference call to discuss their tactics once military operations began. They told a Los Angeles Times reporter that this time around, the movement is supposed to emphasize its support for the troops. Anti-war leaders say this will be demonstrated by fund-raising events intended to support both Iraqi civilians and U.S. veterans. They say they will send money to the families of called-up military reservists and national guardsmen hurt by lost paychecks. Anti-war leaders also told the LA Times that the character of their protests will change. Spokesmen from the National Council of Churches are said to be “contemplating” hunger strikes. One leader told the Times that the movement has been “nice and polite” thus far, but is about to switch over to nonviolent civil disobedience.
But it looks like word hasn’t filtered down to the protestors in the streets. There has been no sign yet of any “fundraising” activities by protestors but at an anti-war rally in San Francisco one sign read, “We support our troops when they shoot their officers.” Accuracy in Media has reported elsewhere the demoralizing effects the protests have had on our troops. No more “Hanoi Janes” seems nothing more than a public relations ploy fed to a gullible reporter by anti-war leaders.