With things going badly in Iraq, the anti-war movement in this country is trying to expand its political base with a series of high-profile marches scheduled for this weekend.
And once again, planners of some of the events are using rising discontent over the war to boost other items on their agenda, starting with vehement criticism of Israel.
A primary sponsor of the new burst of protest: International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), the anti-war group criticized last year for barring speakers who supported Israel and for a vehemently anti-Israel approach to the Mideast conflict.
On the day the war in Iraq began, I endured a migraine-inducing traffic jam on Wilshire Boulevard. As I inhaled car fumes for nearly an hour, my frustration grew. It reached the boiling point when I learned the cause behind the gridlock: antiwar protesters. The blocking of traffic by the No-War-In-Iraq protesters not only had no impact on the events unfolding abroad, but they diverted valuable police resources from fighting crime and preventing terrorism. They also made me late for dinner at my parents' house.
So it was with scant enthusiasm that I went to the Federal Building in Westwood a few days later to cover the antiwar marches for The Journal. On my way to the rally, I walked by a hippie with a stringy gray ponytail. Shouting "Bush is a fascist" in a stentorian voice, he gave the Nazi salute to shocked motorists, presumably an expression of his anger toward the administration.
His antics failed to move me. Neither did the opinions of the first protester with whom I chatted. After accusing the United States of going to war for oil, he said America was "killing innocent Iranians for no reason."
Call me uninformed, but I thought the America was fighting in Iraq.