Saturday 7 September 2002

Standing Up for Dissent

by John Nichols

Every year Greensboro, North Carolina, holds a Fourth of July parade in which local organizations form the units. This year members of the Greensboro Peace Coalition decided--"after some hesitation," admits chairman Ed Whitfield--to join the line of march. They bought an ad in the local paper, printed leaflets and developed their own variation on this year's theme of "American Heroes": large posters of Americans, including Mark Twain, Albert Einstein and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who have spoken out against the folly of war.

Though members had been participating in vigils since last October, when the bombing of Afghanistan began, many expressed qualms about marching into the thick of their hometown's annual patriotic celebration. But fifty activists showed up on the Fourth and got the surprise of their political lives. Along the mile-and-a-half parade route through downtown Greensboro, they were greeted mostly with applause, and, at the end of their march, they were honored by parade organizers for "Best Interpretation of the Theme."

Says Whitfield, "There is a real lesson in this. If you scratch the surface of the poll numbers about Bush and Ashcroft's overwhelming support, you get down to a lot of people with a lot of questions. Some of them are afraid that they are alone in what they are thinking. What it takes to get them excited and to get them involved is for them to see someone standing up so that they will know they are not alone."

Can I just add my voice to that chorus, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We are being manipulated on a scale that is so vast that most of us dimiss the very idea as conspiracy. You can call me a nut or a crackpot or a lunatic or even a maniac but I'm none of those things, I'm just an ordinary, curious, person who's interested in the world around me and the welfare of other people on the planet. All you have to do is spend a little time connected to the Internet, do the research for yourself and you'll find the same things I did. The Internet contains all the pieces of the puzzel, put them together and the picture that you get is so far removed from what you're being told, it'll shock you! There's a lot of stuff on this site but there's even more out there in Cyberspace.

Just remember that not matter what anyone in authority says, you can't have democracy without dissent, they go hand in hand like Romeo and Juliet; remove one and the other becomes lost and meaningless, and will eventually self-destruct. If we don't start speaking up in louder voices then our society and everything we hold dear will also self-destruct.

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