With grace, I mean.
For those of you lucky enough to be able to avoid the news out of Berkeley, Code Pink set up permanent shop outside the local Marine recruitment center and pretty much used the sort of techniques generally associated with the most militant anti-abortion groups. Intimidation, threats, defacement---that sort of thing.
Anyway, today I happened to drive past their offices in Albany (just a couple miles from the Marine recruitment place) and there were forty or so burly ex-Marines, most in leather jackets and full beards, hanging around outside their gate. The Code Pink building had a sign reading Sorry we missed you! by the door.
The Marines were milling about peacefully, belying the need for the dozen cops loitering about. No doubt the camera crews were disappointed.
Now, I've no doubt Code Pink eagerly aligns themselves with Voltaire, but will their public response to this match that intellectual stance?
One of the great problems with outspoken activists is their unwillingness to allow the opposing viewpoint any validity.
It often surprises people how pro-ACLU I am, but of course I am! Yes, the ACLU generally is representing some pretty, um, "individual" issues, but they fill a truly vital need in America: the need to have each viewpoint treated with validity and respect by those with public power.
So even though I think Code Pink's methods are often reprehensible, their message deserves an airing. I'm not a big fan of war myself. But if they don't respect the pro-Marine faction's right to disagree with them by using a toned-down version of their own methods, then they are the worst sort of hypocrite, beating down the First Amendment in the name of the First Amendment.
I wish I could say I believe that won't happen, but I've grown a little cynical. Too often have I heard the prayer, Let no one abuse my right to free speech, Lord, but send someone to shut the other guy up.
So I was delighted to see the leather-clad Marines. I hope is brings dialogue. I'm sick of trying to see who can shout loudest.
In related news, I had my students write about fighting in their journals Thursday and one student told me this: We run to see a fight because we know the people who are fighting and we know what the issues are and we want to know who's right. I asked, do you mean the winner of the fight has the correct opinion? Well yeah, of course. That's why they win. We voted and a dozen or so students agreed with this notion: You win the fight, everyone will agree with your opinion. If you hadn't been correct, after all, you wouldn't have won.