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Monday, March 31, 2003

Michael Tomasky Palms A Card

Michael Tomasky, writing in The American Prospect, gets very slippery with his excerpts and assertions. He is writing about right-wing critics of the anti-war protestors:

Never to be out-demagogued on such questions, Andrew Sullivan chirped in: "If [protesters] go ahead and try to impede those people in the military doing their jobs, if they launch a 'stop-the-war' movement after it has begun and American and British lives are at stake, it strikes me that they will massively overplay their hand. It took a long time in the Vietnam War for people to start campaigning against an existing war, and longer still for some to withhold support from the troops facing battle. If the anti-war brigades decide to cross that line instantly, then the backlash could be enormous. And deservedly so."

It gets worse still....

...This is a small sampling, and once the shooting does start -- and the countervailing protests, which will be immediate -- this kind of chest thumping will only get more insistent. Keep an eye open for the demagogue's standard tricks, the main one of which is on display in the O'Reilly and Sullivan quotes above -- to wit, intentionally blurring the line between protesting and harming the military. Impeding the military means giving away troops' positions and interfering with their progress; that's treason, or something very close to it, and we all agree that's bad. (The Prospect's Web log, Tapped, properly rebuked the "human shield" movement.) Protesting is ... protesting.

All very well. The Andrew Sullivan piece in question is here, and certainly seems to be referring to protestors impeding the military. And, since this is the Web, we can follow the link Sullivan provides to more clearly establish the context of Sullivan's statement:

Organizers of Antiwar Movement Plan to Go Beyond Protests

By Glenn Frankel
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, March 3, 2003; Page A14

LONDON, March 2 -- The people who helped organize the largest worldwide peace demonstration in history last month say they are not through yet.

...they intend to further disrupt war plans with acts of civil disobedience against U.S. military bases, supply depots and transports throughout Europe.

And, much later in the story:

Campaigns to disrupt U.S. forces have also been launched. Besides the dozens of activists who have traveled to Baghdad to volunteer as "human shields" against a U.S. attack, nine Dutch antiwar activists were arrested Tuesday for chaining themselves to the gates of a U.S. military center outside Rotterdam. In Italy, hundreds of protesters occupied train stations and railway tracks for nearly a week to delay trains carrying U.S. military equipment from northern Italy to the Camp Darby military base near Pisa. Irish protesters broke through the perimeter fence at Shannon airport in January and damaged a U.S. Navy plane, causing other planes to divert their flights and refuel elsewhere. Trade union movements in Italy and France are pledging work disruptions and considering general strikes if war breaks out.

Quite plainly, the activities described above clearly fall within the scope of "impeding the military" as explained by Tomasky.

Howard Kurtz grasped this distinction in reporting on Sullivan's remarks by placing them just below this:

In California, dozens of protesters plan to infiltrate Vandenberg Air Force Base on the central coast, hoping to disrupt work. A San Francisco-area collective called Direct Action to Stop the War plans to blockade the TransAmerica Pyramid, the Pacific Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve in San Francisco.

"Protesters in Washington may focus on the White House. A spokesman for a national group, Peace Action, said plans called for activists to gather at 5 p.m. on the day the United States goes to war, or at that time the following day if an attack begins at night. Scott Lynch said protesters would probably block one of the White House driveways."

All of which will accomplish what?

Well, maybe Kurtz was blurring the line, but interfering with an Air Force base in wartime is not acceptable, even by the Tomasky Standard.

Might Tomasky have known any of this? Of course he did, or should have. But he knew the story he wanted to write, he knew he wanted to include Sullivan, and all that was missing was the evidence.

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