Election Section

COMMENTARY Medea Benjamin Should Have Chosen A Better Venue for Protest By CAROL DeWITT

Friday August 06, 2004

I’ve met Medea Benjamin. She is dedicated, hard working, selfless, courageous and inspiring. I usually have the utmost respect for her and find myself in agreement with her. However, I do not feel that it was productive or appropriate for her to attend t he Democratic National Convention with the intention of being an issue-provoking and disruptive influence.  

I am anti-war and to a certain degree I agree with her viewpoint of bringing our troops home. And I support rights of free speech. But I feel that Benjamin made a mistake in choosing to express this particular opinion at the DNC in the manner she chose. I believe Benjamin is an ethical, principled person with strong values and integrity and I do not accuse her of being on an ego trip at the DNC, attempting to draw attention to herself, Global Exchange and Code Pink. However, I think that Benjamin did herself, Code Pink and their supporters a disservice by her intentionally provocative actions at convention.  

There are plenty of forums to confront leading Democratic contenders for office over policies and issues. Rightly, at this convention all protesters were limited to areas outside the convention hall.  

Apparently, Benjamin does not understand that party conventions are pretty much carefully orchestrated pep rallies intended to galvanize unanimity and supporters for a concerted final three-month campaign effort to beat the opposing party’s candidates.  

The convention is not the time or place for turmoil over divisive issues. The fact of these times is that the Bush administration aggressively waged war against a country that has not attacked us. Great and grievous damage has been done. Over 1,000 American’s have lost their lives in this ill-conceived war as well as uncounted thousands of innoc ent Iraqi citizens who were first victimized by Saddam and then by our bombs. We lost heroes, Iraqi losses are shamefully depersonalized as collateral damage. We “broke it” and we cannot just withdraw and leave even worse damage and chaos than before Bush declared war and dropped bombs on this long suffering country.  

It seems obvious that we should not have sent troops and war to the beleaguered citizens of this ill-run and ill-fated country. But now we must deal with the situation that exists. We have turned loose radically different and violently opposing factions within this country that under Saddam were at least held at bay. Surely, Saddam was not such a world threat that removing him from power was worth sacrificing that entire country and all of it’s citizens to depose him. Now, we are obligated to foster rational transfer of control to internal authorities who have a chance at internal peace and stable reconstruction before withdrawing. If we don’t then we have truly sacrificed and wasted thousa nds of lives to merely remove an evil despot, but left the people and country worse off than when he was in control.  

I believe that Kerry understands this and will work toward peace and reconstruction within Iraq. Bush has deeply alienated the rest of the world and solutions in Iraq must include support from the UN and our allies. This support will not be given to Bush who stupidly and arrogantly squandered the enormous worldwide support for America after 9/11. Kerry will greatly renew the faith of our allies and only Kerry can succeed in reestablishing world trust and regain the worldwide support needed to rebuild Iraq.  

The stakes in many areas are extremely high this election. There are only two possible winners in Nov. There are huge distinctions between the parties and candidates. The best chance we have for decreasing the continuing deaths and rationally ending our military involvement is to eliminate Bush from the equation. I can’t for the life of me understand why Benjamin would try, in anyway, to impede or thwart the replacement of Bush with Kerry who has a desperately needed and much more thought out, rational, fair, open, honest, balance and intelligent agenda.