From the outrage over the ongoing genocide in Darfur and the lack of international will to deal with it to fears exposed by immigrants - illegal or not - and the continuing call for troops to be brought home from Iraq (somehow, Afghanistan is largely forgotten - at least in the US), Americans have had enough and they want their elected representatives to know it.
When letters, faxes and phone calls to congresspeople are met with a shrug and a canned reply and those same elected representatives of the people continue to act on behalf powerful lobbyists instead of their constituents, it's time for citizens to find more forceful ways to be heard. This blogger, unlike some other, more prominent names in the lefty blogosphere, fully supports these displays of dissent and concern because, even if their congresspeople remain unmoved, the broader public has an opportunity to feel empowered when they know others share their deeply held values and are willing to make powerful public statements on their behalf.
Genocide is not a value. Illegal war is not a value. Demonizing immigrants is not a value. And there's definitely one more thing that is not a value: torture. My only lament is that there are not more protesting boots on the ground to end American-sponsored torture.
It's safe to point the finger at foreign governments like Sudan's and insist that the US government act immediately to end the genocide because it absolutely needs to be done as soon as possible. But, when large numbers of American citizens do not equally stand up and speak out on behalf of all of the kidnap victims rounded up through 'extraordinary rendition' ie. torture flights; when Americans do not speak up daily on behalf of innocent victims of torture and horrendous abuse still perpetuated in their names at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and other US detention facilities who are now also systematically abused by factions of the new Iraqi government; when Americans turn away because the issue of torture is too painful to deal with - willfully denying the very real physical, emotional and spiritual pain of the people who must actually endure it, what value are they espousing?
Update: Tom Engelhardt of Tom Dispatch provides his view of the many boots on the ground at the antiwar protest in NYC this past Saturday.
Perhaps such demonstrations are now not for the Bush administration, nor really for the mainstream media either, but only for us. Perhaps they are a reminder to all those who attend and to those numbering in their hundreds of thousands, if not millions, on the political Internet that we are here, alive, and humming. That is reason enough to demonstrate.