Here’s a protest you don’t see every day
The Vancouver Art Gallery has been a staging ground for countless demonstrations against the evils of Western imperialism, US and Israeli militarism and Canadian participation in the the United Nations’ mission in Afghanistan.
But in all of these protests that I’ve wandered by on Robson Street, the demonstrators and their signs have always been (at best) silent on the issue of political Islam, anti-Western terrorism and the role of certain Middle Eastern states outside of Israel in promoting hatred and conflict. Meanwhile, much of the peace movement seem pretty well set in in its unspoken (well, unholy, anyway) alliance with militant Islamists. To protest our world’s most urgent conflicts in this way is akin to communicating the sound of one hand clapping – at best, nobody really knows what you’re trying to say.
Today’s protest was different.
There were various groups represented outside the VAG: The Worker-Communist Party of Iran, the Third Camp and others. These people are opposed to Western militarism. They’re no Fox News propagandists.
But today, they were protesting Iran’s atrocious human rights record, persecution of women activists and the torture of political prisoners.
They weren’t doing this to argue for some kind of military response – actually, their sign specifically said no to war. But they were protesting the negative and violent consequences of political Islam – overseas, as well as right here in Canada.
Finally, some of the people who take part in Vancouver’s very active peace movement seem to be making the distinction that protesting brutal anti-Western dictatorships doesn’t make you a stooge of George W. Bush – it just means you have a conscience.
That’s something you don’t see every day. But it is something I hope we see more of.