Once a Peacenik,
Always a Peacenik

by Eric Garris

I sat there, flabbergasted. Jesse Jackson had just called Oliver North a pacifist and accused him of "not supporting our boys." North was interviewing Jackson on MSNBC's Equal Time, and seemed to be as taken aback as I was when Jackson said that Martin Luther King would have supported sending American ground troops to die in Yugoslavia.
There was no reason I should have been surprised.

Having long-ago abandoned my leftist ideology for a libertarian one, I knew that liberals always return to their support of war. I had studied the history of antiwar movements in the United States, and knew that Democrats started all the big wars, and that hard-core anti-interventionism had its roots in the old right. I knew this intellectually, but I guess I still had not comes to grips with it emotionally.


I grew up in a politically left environment. A red-diaper-baby, I learned about the virtues of socialism from an early age. Encouraged to become politically active, I marched for civil rights at age 8 and petitioned for the recall of California Governor Ronald Reagan at age 13. I was expelled from high school for inciting a riot at age 16, and became a draft resister at age 18.

Over the next two years I made an incredible ideological journey from socialism to libertarianism, the details of which I will not go into here. But certain basic ideals and instincts remained constant. I always hated the idea of war, and the idea of international bullies. I always distrusted the government and the power elite. These things have not changed, rather, they helped guide my ideological journey.
I have now been a registered Republican for 15 years. I have served on GOP leadership bodies and have run for office under its banner. I was never a big fan of liberals (so wimpy) and certainly was never a fan of Jesse Jackson. And I was never an Oliver North hater. But the interview still sent my head reeling. I wasn't sure why.

As webmaster for Antiwar.com, I have been trying to wade through the barrage of email, several hundred a day. I also cull through hundreds of articles and editorials a day, looking for the best items to post. The hate mail and death threats do not faze me. I have seen them all before.


But what dismays me the most (I am a little embarrassed to admit) is the almost-universal voice of the left urging war -- more, bigger, stronger, deadlier war. "We are holding the President back. We must show that we are the number one Superpower, not to be trifled with. We must spread only correct ideas to our enemies, and destroy their ability to respond even with words. We must bomb our enemies back to the stone age." I have heard all this rhetoric before -- thirty years ago.

In South Vietnam, we ran a puppet regime that outlawed free speech, elections, and even the declaration of being a "neutralist." We showed absolute contempt for the people of Indochina, treating them as subhumans. Now we are doing the same in Yugoslavia, only more directly. And, this time, it is the left in charge. The liberals, always having been a big supporter of the FCC and equal time, are now enforcing it on an international level. I wonder when the federal FCC will start to bomb a few right-wing talk radio stations.


On the other side of my brain, I am delighted to have new comrades: Phyllis Schlafly, Oliver North, Arianna Huffington, Jack Kemp, Pat Buchanan. They, and many others on the right, have heroically and impressively attacked U.S. imperialism and spoken out for peace. They are marching, opposing the war without qualification. They are the heart of the New Antiwar Movement.

Martin Luther King would have been proud of them. I am not sure what the severity of his reaction to Jesse Jackson's statements would have been.


The thing that's always bothered me most about liberals is their desire to make government "work more efficiently," even when what the government is doing is wrong. And now that they are in charge of foreign policy, I am afraid they are going to make things more efficient -- things like killing civilians, silencing opponents, starting World War III.

I am much more afraid than I was 30 years ago.

Back to Antiwar.Com Home Page | Contact Us