When president Duarte of El Salvador spoke at the Notre Dame commencement in May, there was a protest march featuring local and imported people appalled at conditions in the speaker’s county.
A ragtag parade, consisting largely of people in their late thirties or older, their dress suggesting that the highest social status they could claim was that of campesino, waving banners, scuffled toward the area set aside for them.
The suggestion of theater, amateur theater, is strong. And of nostalgia. And of the pathos of going from youth to paunchy middle age with the conviction that America is what’s wrong with the world. More particularly now, Ronald Reagan. Among the marchers were professors, housewives, the kinky affluent. If the designated area for protestors suggests ritual, the expressions on the marchers’ faces conveys an almost religious fervor.
That Duarte had been elected president in a free election, that under his presidency the tide has turned against the Marxist insurgents, that he himself has suffered imprisonment and faces daily the threat of assassination, seemed lost on the marchers outside.
On the platform with Duarte was a man from the Peoples Republic of China, surely one of the most brutal and antidemocratic regimes in the history of mankind. Ignored outside the building, this gentleman was treated inside as if he were the moral equivalent of Mother Teresa. No signs appeared in the audience when he stepped forward to receive his honorary degree.
More recently, protestors staged sit-ins at the regional offices of congressmen across the land, their target non-military aid for the freedom fighters in Nicaragua. Sitting on floor and desks, Roman collars and veils out of mothballs for the occasion—religious garb is now seen only in TV commercials and political protests—they stared at the camera with expressions of righteous innocence. The contras are murderers. Ortega was elected. They had talked to nuns who had spent a weekend in Managua, etc., etc.
These are the people who still think Granada was a sleepy little island in the sun on which Ronald Reagan suddenly descended, probably to stave off boredom. They regard any reference to Marxism as diversionary, irrelevant, and perverse.
But the essence of the attitude of such protestors is, as Jeane Kirkpatrick put it, to blame America first. Pulses that race at any allusion to love of country on the part of Central Americans, slow almost to a stop at an appeal to their own patriotism. Lips curl, brows cloud, fists clench. They know that the United States of America is what’s wrong with the world.
One does not ask that such protestors mend their ways and love their country right or wrong. But it would be nice if, when the Roman collars and veils and banners are put away for another day, these marchers would, in the privacy of their own hearts, entertain the thought that it is logically possible that America be sometimes right.
It is far more than a want of patriotism when priests and religious become cheerleaders for Marxism. The Catholic has no excuse not to see Communism for what it is. No American has any excuse not to see Communism, more particularly, the Soviet Union, for what it is. Robert Jastrow, in How to Make Nuclear Weapons Obsolete, recounts the extent of the Soviet arms build-up, the dimensions of its developments in ABM’s, the maneuvers they have been conducting in outer space, simulating World War III.
As with Grenada, such information is in the public domain. It is almost never so much as alluded to by opponents of what is derisively called Star Wars.
Otherwise decent people lament President Reagan’s proposal as if he sought to be the first to militarize outer space.
What this country needs is a renewal of anti-Communism.
What this country needs is straight thinking about the Soviet Union.
Solzhenitsyn, thou shouldst be living at this hour. Come to think of it, you are.