Friday, April 28, 2006


But They Don't Fall Down

Grannies dance, but they don’t fall down…no matter how wobbly they may be.

(If you don’t get that allusion, you don’t know your history of International Socialism, comrade.)

Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette offers insightful commentary on a recent court appearance of aging revolutionaries. Apparently, some anti-war Grannies managed to get themselves arrested, and thereby gain an inordinate amount of press coverage from the likes of the NY Times.

This is the paragraph that caught Greyhawk’s attention, and prompted my reference above to a bit of international communist nostalgia:

The trial was extraordinary, if only because it gave 18 impassioned women — some of whom dated their political activism to the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg — a chance to testify at length about their antiwar sentiments and their commitment to free speech and dissent, in a courtroom that attracted reporters from France and Germany.

Greyhawk’s take:

Google Ethel and Julius if you need to, fellow travelers - I'm not giving that part of the history lesson today. But small wonder the supporters of the team that helped hand the A-bomb to the Russians are against America today. Many, if not all of the "grannies" are simply remnants of a bygone era, revitalized by new threats against a nation they can't bring themselves to support. If any of them actually have children who also have children it's less a validation of their wisdom and more a reminder that four or more decades of supporting a failed ideology does not of itself grant credibility to the cause.

The Grannies and their supporters take the judge’s decision in this case – to dismiss charges rather than seek punishment for their acts of (apparent) civil disobedience – as a victory for the right of free speech. I think they’re mistaken, and so does Greyhawk. He celebrates their victory, and notes the other, more significant demonstration of freedom, and its cost: the acts of those men and women who made their way past the obstructionist octogenarians, and enlisted for military service:

I celebrate their "victory"... as I celebrate the right to non-violent free speech anywhere in the few countries that allow it today. But I cheer loudly for those recruits who used that space they left available to enter the recruiting office and join to actually defend free speech too. In a way I truly pity those who wasted a life lived in freedom leading cheers for those who would end both life and freedom were they ever to be successful in their cause.

Funny how contemporary practitioners of civil disobedience can so enthusiastically celebrate being relieved of suffering any consequence of their acts? That was certainly not Gandhi’s example, nor Martin Luther King’s. They embraced the judicial consequences of their disobedience.

I suppose that’s reflective of the times, the Me Generation impulse towards taking the easy route on anything. Darn End of History protesters. Can’t even do a little stint in Birmingham Jail, for cripes sake. Had to go hire a flashy First Amendment lawyer to get them all off with a compassionate dismissal.

I’ll leave the last word to Greyhawk, as he does so well:

Expect more from these intrepid grannies, they aren't likely to be content to go back to making brownies. These age of Aquarian septuagenarians have achieved a first - the first generation to protest their parents and their kids.

Back in the "good old days" they popularized a slogan: "never trust anybody over 30". They were wrong then, and they're wrong today.

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