It ain’t what you do…

Further signs of the division within the anti-war movement over Stop the War’s demand to End the Occupation comes with Mary Riddell’s article in the Observer today.

The subhead to the piece: A fast-track Western withdrawal from Iraq would be a gross betrayal of its people , says all that needs to be said about an issue we covered in some detail this week.

What is interesting however is that Riddell notes Stop the War’s enthusiastic support for the Burning Bush Campaign

I found the link to their site via Stop the War’s own site which offers a mask of Bush that you can add to your bonfire Guy and burn. (which also supports a Burning Blair initiative) welcomes visitors with these words:

This November 5th, burn George W. Bush on your bonfire instead of Guy Fawkes.

Burning Bush is our way of sending a message to America: we don’t like your President, we don’t like his policies, and we don’t want him here!

The Observer’s Riddell (who was anti-war) says: No doubt George W. Bush would be delighted to learn that some British opponents will be torching his image on bonfire night, perhaps with their children looking on. Such gestures, vapid and vaguely savage, are a gift. They make it easier for our leaders to ignore the demands of the quiet millions who abhorred their war but who now look forwards. We want solutions and progress, not revenge.

But my question is this – since when has burning effigies been a method of protest for socialists or the peace movement? I honestly can’t remember attending any demonstration where such acts have taken place.

I do, however, recall seeing on television protestors burning effigies and flags – the Islamic revolution in Iran springs immediately to mind. It is a style of protest that is alien to the traditions of the left for good (and obvious) reason.

Rather it is the favoured method of the book-burning, cinema torching, reactionary Islamic fundamentalists.

The method of protest, the style, is important. For example, the silent candlelit march can send a powerful message without the need of any slogans.

Even without reflecting on the act of removing Guy Fawkes from the bonfires, this form of protest is highly illustrative of the depths to which the anti-war movement is sinking.