Ignorance is, apparently, a defense
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By jank - Last updated: Tuesday, August 12, 2003 - Save & Share - 9 Comments

“Dude”:http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/news/special_packages/iraq/6512423.htm goes over to Iraq to support a repressive dictator. Dude gets fined for violating US and UN sanctions upon his return. Dude whines to press.


“I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” – Patrick Henry

“I have no intention whatsoever of paying any money for having gone over there and worked with children. It’s a bizarre and arbitrary charge.” Ryan Clancy

Whatever happened to the idea that ideas worth supporting are worth paying, fighting, and dying for?

Posted in Politics • • Top Of Page

9 Responses to “Ignorance is, apparently, a defense”

Comment from etrigan
Time August 12, 2003 at 10:29 am

You are being a little harsh, dude. This guy was not there to support S.H. He was there to protest war. There is a clear mile-wide line between the two. He was there because he thought it would save lives (whether he was right or not, in the long run, is irrelevant.) Are you denouncing this guy’s right to act in a non-malevolent fashion for the things he believes in?

This and my previous post address the same issue. The U.S. Government is trying to set a precedent that the rights we afford our citizens as they apply to activist activities towards our own government do not apply when we act towards other countries.

The protesters camped out near power plants, water treatment facilities and hospitals to act as “human shields” in an effort to prevent bombing by American troops.

Although travel to Iraq has been prohibited for more than 10 years, officials just started enforcing the ban six months ago, said Arthur Heitzer, a Milwaukee attorney and expert on international travel sanctions.

But Taylor said there have been prosecutions during the entire period such travel has been prohibited.

This is wrong. It’s basically saying that we can take no action against another government that’s not sanctioned by our government. If travel for the sake of protest or boycotting a foreign country is banned how much further is it to say that blogs supporting/denouncing another country is banned? How much further is it to say that boycotting companies in our own country who sell/deal with foreign companies is banned?

This administration is setting an evil precedent.

Comment from KellyMc
Time August 12, 2003 at 10:45 am

And how much further to say that boycotting a blog that protests a company that sells/deals with companies that buy/sell things that are processed in foreign countries is banned?

The problem with this guy is that the ban and the fine were clearly in place when he decided to go to Iraq. You can defy an unjust law, but you should be prepared for the consequences. MLK didn’t whine about getting arrested for his actions during protests.

Comment from jank
Time August 12, 2003 at 12:30 pm

Thanks, Kelly. That’s much the point I was trying to make. Not only MLK but Thoreu and many others have had the decency to go to jail and use that repression to change what they saw as an unjust system.

Further, I’d posit that one of the reasons why the ‘public’ is somewhat disinterested in supporting protesters is the sense that they are not actually sacrificing anything to make their point. One of the reasons the protests of MLK and the civil rights movement were so effective was the vigor with which the marchers were repressed. People saw the violence against people whose only interest was freedom from injustice, and were outraged.

Finally, I disagree with your parenthetical comment that “whether he was right or not, in the long run, is irrelevant.” Appeasement and support for tyrants accrued a stunning death toll over the 20^th^ century, most noteably in Germany, the USSR, and China. Human shields and the like deserve to share some of the blame for the 250,000+ folks who have been discovered in mass graves since the invasion of Iraq. I by no means am trying to exonerate our foreign policy in the past which may have caused a small part of those deaths; however, it would be refreshing to get a ‘mea culpa’ for folks who decried policies to overthrow repression outside the US.

Comment from KellyMc
Time August 12, 2003 at 12:48 pm

On its face, the Iraq travel ban is similar to the Cuba travel ban, no? I seem to have read an article in the past few months about Americans who have received fines for traveling to Cuba. But because of some bureacratic situation — either there’s no one assigned to prosecute these cases or judges are refusing to waste their time on them — anyone who fills out the paperwork to appeal the fine is effectively off the hook.

I doubt however, that a tree-hugging, Saddam-lover like this guy would have such a loophole offered to him though.

Comment from jank
Time August 12, 2003 at 1:08 pm

“I doubt however, that a tree-hugging, Saddam-lover like this guy would have such a loophole offered to him though.”

Now that’s something I could get worked up over – selective application of the law.

Comment from etrigan
Time August 12, 2003 at 1:31 pm

This guy (and the other protesters) were not supporting S.H. Quit your crazy Rush Limbaugh blathering and stop trying to paint someone with a red brush while you scream “Commie” at the top of your lungs. The intent of the ban is to bring financial harm to Iraq. They were there so that the people of Iraq could continue to have water, engery, food and shelter — basic human needs. They were not on vacation. It wasn’t a sight-seeing trip or even a cultural awakening experience. It was an attempt to save human lives.

This judge is sentencing this guy on the letter of the law because he disagrees with him poilitically. It’s a pattern the current administration is using and it’s simply wrong. This judge, Under Secretary Juster and Attorneys for the Republican Party think that using the law to silence opposition is acceptable. I think it is dishonorable.

Comment from jank
Time August 12, 2003 at 2:00 pm

This guy’s been in the news before.

“Even the families ravaged by sanctions and poverty would share the little food that they had with me, even knowing that I was from a country whose stated aim is to bomb them back into the stone age.” (Clancy

The sanctions were UN sanctions, not US, and they could have been lifted in the early ’90s if disarmerment had proceeded as required. And as far as I can discern, it’s never been a stated aim of either the Bush or Clinton administrations to ‘bomb (Iraq) back to the stone age.’

Here’s the flip side to Dude’s story. Someone who went in with more than crayons to help the Iraqis, and who actually found courageous folks to describe conditions to him.

Comment from etrigan
Time August 12, 2003 at 3:00 pm

I never said he wasn’t misguided. I’m saying that a US judge fining this guy for doing what his well-natured heart told him to do is b.s. He wasn’t there because he supported S.H.’s lack of disarmament and the UN knows that and wouldn’t have fined the guy for his humanitarian goals.

This is a US judge (and Commerce Under Secretary, etc.) sending a clear message to the US activist community: “Don’t f* with us on foreign policy. We will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law if you disagree with us. We will tell you which countries to give money to and whether or not citizens of another country are worth protecting.”

I understand the traitorous activity of John Walker Lindh should be punished, but this guy did not raise a weapon for Iraq nor against the US. He did not give money to the Iraqi government even indirectly.

Comment from etrigan
Time August 12, 2003 at 4:04 pm

Here’s an article that I stole from LinkFilter about a company that was fined $6000 for responding to a customer’s query if a product’s parts were made in Israel, and not informing the feds.

This is abhorrent.

I want to move to Canada.

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