Tea party demonstrators vs. Vietnam demonstrators
By Craig J. Cantoni
April 18, 2009
The tea party demonstrators have a lot in common with the anti-war demonstrators of the 1960s. They also have a lot that is not in common.
The anti-war demonstrators were clubbed by Chicago police in Grant Park and shot by the National Guard at Kent state. One even immolated himself outside of the Pentagon office of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, an amoral, greasy-haired weasel from the Ford Motor Company who was put in his job by the very overrated JFK, who, like his successor, was a statist who exercised centralized power way beyond the founding intent of the Constitution. Camelot, my ass.
Many of the demonstrators were hippies, pot heads, and anarchists. They were the opposite of me in appearance at the time: them with their long hair, and me with my Army ROTC buzz cut. But they were courageous -- and right. The war was an abuse of power, a violation of the Constitution, complete folly, and the result of a failure to understand that communism was not an economically viable system and would self-destruct on its own. Yes, the Soviet Union was a danger to the U.S. with its ballistic missiles and belligerency, but its enemy, China, was not.
The French got their asses whooped in Indochina, although they were meaner and nastier than us. So what did we do? We followed the Frogs into the swamp, just as we would later follow them into the morass of the Middle East. The result was 58,000 dead Americans.
The anti-war demonstrators indeed had a legitimate reason to demonstrate, but their demonstrations didn’t stop Democrat LBJ from wading deeper into the swamp. There is a lesson here on how much it takes to counter the power of the state and the stupidity and hubris of those who run it.
Today’s tea party demonstrators are pansies in comparison to the demonstrators of yesteryear. Instead of getting their heads cracked open, they wave tea bags and hold signs. Yeah, that’ll scare Obama, Pelosi, Reed, and the Homeland Security goon, Janet Napolitano. But to the credit of the tea-baggers, their cause is just. Like the demonstrators of 40 years ago, today’s demonstrators are against abuses of power, violations of the Constitution, and government folly.
Paradoxically, a high percentage of the demonstrators from both eras don’t like each other, although down deep they are against the same thing. That’s because many of the anti-war demonstrators have grown up to be Democrat stalwarts who voted for Obama and big government, apparently not learning the lesson about the inherent danger of statism. Many of today’s demonstrators, on the other hand, voted for George W. Bush and his big government, apparently not learning the lesson about the inherent danger of statism.
Maybe the two sides will eventually learn the lesson and come together. When they do, they’ll call themselves libertarians, end statism, and save the country.
An author and columnist, Mr. Cantoni can be reached at email@example.com.