Those of us who were born after the end of WWII and before 1956, give or take, remember the civil unrest over the Vietnam War. Protests were everywhere, it seemed, and as the war raged on they grew ever more frequent, populated, and even violent.
The media, eventually including the venerable Walter Cronkite, bought it, characterizing the protesting as acts of the people. That was the end of LBJ’s future presidential aspirations. Indeed, he said that if he’d lost Cronkite, then he’d lost the people, and so he declined to run for another term in the 1968 election. Perhaps this is what the Left is hoping for our current president as 2020 approaches.
But whether or not you are a Trump fan, you need to look back at what happened during what we might call the Vietnam War years, and then what was revealed in the years afterward. Clearer-minded individuals claimed that those protesters were not common folk who simply came out to express displeasure with their government. They were organized and paid by outside forces, in this case the Soviet Union. Alas, their warnings were dismissed as little more than paranoia.
However, within a decade or so after the last “official” troops left the Southeast Asia theatre, investigations and documents showed that a significant number of the Vietnam War protests had not only been orchestrated by Communist interests but that many of the so-called protesters had been paid to protest.
Now we have similarly spreading nationwide protests, this time against ICE, our immigration policies, and President Trump. And just like in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, hundreds to thousands of protesters are congregating, in some cases more protesters than reside in the totality of nearby communities. What’s more, it’s not just on weekends, when most adults aren’t working. No, these crowds show up in the middle of the week. Don’t these people have a job? Or is it their “job” to protest?
And again like in the Vietnam War protests, too many of their signs are either identical or carrying identical messages, as if the sign makers and carriers had been told what to write and, yes, when and where to show up.
Am I being defensive? Maybe. But remember the riots (which the media called an “unrest”) in Ferguson, MO in 2014 when a black man was killed by a white police officer? Protesters (and concomitant rioters and looters) showed up in droves. Yet the truth was that many of them had been bused to Ferguson from as far away as New York (surprise surprise). Now who paid for their bus tickets, meals, and more? No one knows. At least, no one has been looking.
So when I see a gazillion people show up on a Thursday morning to march in protest for this or that Left Liberal cause, I wonder. How did they get there? Who directed them to go there? Who provided their signs? Who paid for their transportation, food, housing, etc.?
This is not about President Trump. Like him or not, he is our president. No, this is about our nation and, more importantly, the integrity of our Constitutional process and in that the respect of both law and civility. When the exercise of our 1st Amendment rights to freedom of speech, assembly, and address of grievances ignore the personal and societal responsibility inherent therein, those rights and freedoms become ever more in jeopardy.
Michael C. Westlund