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For an effective protest

Editorial: We hope anti-war activities across the country this weekend avoid the moonbat fringes

A series of protests, marches and other events against the war in Iraq will take place this weekend. Organizers hope to have 100,000 people show up in Washington, D.C., and events in other cities are scheduled, as well. Rallies are planned for San Francisco, downtown Los Angeles and even Anaheim.

As opponents of the invasion of Iraq from the beginning, we hope the events are large, peaceful and respectful of those who disagree. Most of all, we hope that they reflect not just a radical fringe group of knee-jerk Bush-haters, but the growing number of ordinary Americans - around 60 percent according to most polls - who have come to see the war in Iraq as a mistake.

Some signs are hopeful. While many of those who came to oppose the Vietnam war, for example, were openly scornful of Americans who served in uniform, the early stages of anti-Iraq war activity have often included military families. This tendency has been highlighted by Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq in April 2004 and who camped out in Crawford, Texas, during President Bush's ranch vacation, and who has organized military families who oppose or are skeptical about the war. Ms. Sheehan will be a speaker Saturday in Washington and has drawn most of the media attention to date.

But Ms. Sheehan's statements have sometimes gone beyond understandable anger about the war to embrace a range of radical causes. We think that is a mistake. Ordinary Americans who love their country and don't see it as the source of most of the evil in the world but are upset about the Iraq war need to see a reflection of themselves, of a broader Middle America, in this weekend's events. Otherwise they are likely to dismiss the protests as the work of people who will leap at any opportunity to "blame America first."

Some signs are less than hopeful. The Washington organizers might have asked for a speaker from Pat Buchanan's American Conservative magazine, which has opposed the war steadfastly from the beginning. But the speakers we saw listed on the United for Peace and Justice Web site were all from the left side of the spectrum.

When the anti-war movement, to borrow a phrase, starts to look like America, the politicians will start to pay attention.

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