Doing Something Meaningful

The heroic sit-down of youth
By Editorial, Oct 11, 2007, 10:46

The ruling class in this country would like us to believe that young people are apathetic. But the youths participating in the Sept. 29 demonstration in Washington showed another side entirely.

They were aching to struggle. They were determined not only to demonstrate and to shout, but were ready to get arrested, ready even to put their bodies on the line to stop the war at home and abroad waged against the poor and oppressed of the world. They sat in the street for hours, daring the Washington police to arrest them as they blocked traffic in an important intersection.

That readiness for struggle was a new, important sign. It goes hand in hand with what another section of young people who are in the U.S. Armed Forces are doing: mobilizing to combat the war.

Another aspect of the sit-down was instructive. The Washington police broke with their usual practice and refused to arrest them, instead directing traffic away from the blockage. At times, police have arrested hundreds, even thousands of demonstrators for doing no more than the young people at the Troops Out Now Coalition’s protest were doing. So it begs the question: “Why didn’t the cops handcuff these young people and take them away?”

It was obvious that this was no decision made by the cops on the spot. There was a political decision that instructed the cops what to do.

The most likely reason is that the police were instructed to avoid actions that would give publicity to the demonstration. First of all, it was an exceptional anti-war action in that it united many nationalities, was militant and anti-imperialist, and joined the struggles against the war at home and abroad. Second, the Iraq war has become so unpopular that tens of millions of people—who may not be ready to come into the streets themselves—could be aroused and angered if they see cops roughing up young people protesting that war.

Maybe those giving orders in Washington were having nightmares that the mood against the war was growing angrier, and that the street sit-down of Sept. 29 was simply the dress rehearsal for demonstrations ready to break out in the near future. They didn’t want to accelerate this development by an untimely crackdown.

For the sake of the Iraqis, the U.S. rank-and-file troops and for all of humanity, all of those who oppose this war are hoping that these worst nightmares of the ruling class come true.

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