Right-wing commentators often labor under the delusion that the range of acceptable opinion within their own media echo chamber is the same thing as the range of acceptable opinion among the people at large. They don’t care about, or even bother to seriously cover, major political demonstrations, so they do not realize how large the scope of such demonstrations can be. The newsmedia’s foreign policy positions are slanted far to the Right of the American populace (this has been demonstrated by social science research), so they think that the populace is overwhelmingly hawkish, too. This delusion applies on both the national and the local levels, and local Right-wing columnist Malcolm Cutchins put it on vivid display in his weekly column, where (rather than actually providing an argument for war on Iraq or against the charges made by anti-war advocates) he went on at some length about how few anti-war people he was aware of, and then speculating on how these
peaceniks must be the twisted, degenerate products of a culture under siege. In response, I wrote a letter correcting some of his misstatements, and trying to refocus discussion towards issues that are actually relevant–i.e., is war right or wrong?
Editors, Opelika-Auburn News:
Since I was at Toomer’s Corners when 250 people rallied for peace, and 100 people attended the candle-light vigil the following day, I was a bit puzzled to see Malcolm Cutchins dismiss Auburn peace efforts as
a few candle holders.
Indeed, the Auburn rallies were part of a nation-wide call for peace, with 200,000 people marching in San Francisco, and half a million (500,000) marching in Washington–the largest peace demonstration in DC history. (Mr. Cutchins may find that
rather small, but it was twice the size of the largest Vietnam-era peace march–ten times the 50,000 anti-abortion activists who marched later that week.)
What was even more puzzling was Cutchins’ attempt to portray the peace supporters as a few
peaceniks, who only seem to
outnumber the warhawks because of slanted media coverage.
In fact, the majority of Americans do not support war on Iraq.
Recent Zogby polls show more than half either actively oppose Mr. Bush’s rush to war (49%), or are unsure (4%). Warhawks are a large minority (47%), but they are still a minority. A strong majority of Americans (59%) oppose unilateral war. If peace supporters seem to be the majority, that’s because we are the majority.
Mr. Cutchins may think that he knows more about what most Americans believe than we do ourselves. But he can hardly expect us to agree with him.
Of course, popular causes are not always right. But in a democratic country, decisions that could condemn thousands to death should not be pushed through by an angry, vocal, hawkish minority. Before bombing kills thousands of Iraqi civilians–before our children come home in body-bags–the War Party needs to prove a specific threat that only war can stop. Until they give us that explanation, let’s step back and let the inspections work.