- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 22, 2003

Nearly a thousand anti-war protesters marched on our capital Thursday, and hundreds more are expected today here and in other cities. San Francisco alone arrested 1,400 demonstrators. Schools around the nation are canceling field trips, and other annual rites of spring, such as college students' jaunts to Florida and the Caribbean, are being canceled as well. Still, airports and rail stations remain busy, the NCAA basketball tourney continues to capture fans and TV audiences and the Cherry Blossom Festival, the opening attraction of Washington's tourism season, will go on as usual beginning today. Those are but a few of the mentionables that must go on, of the things we take for granted as our armed forces place life and limb in peril as they march across the dusty deserts of Iraq and above its darkened skies in the name of democracy.
The dissenters find it ironic, indeed hypocritical, that America is at war, failing to realize that were it not for the stout-hearted intent and deliberations of our Founding Fathers, their very voices of dissent would indeed be silenced. No right to assemble. No right to free speech. No bureaucratic mechanism to even apply, as they do, for permits to gather across the street from the White House, the people's house, to protest.
Our law-enforcement officers, many of whom haven't seen their own families for days, are doing their best to ensure that protesters' rights are not infringed upon, that they are given the rights to peaceful assembly and due process. Right now, the protests are but a distraction of precious human and financial resources for a nation and a city at war. Every officer managing a demonstration is one officer not available for anti-terrorism assignment. But in the immediate days and perhaps months ahead, uncertainties lie on the home front as well as the war front.
Yet, the freedom to speak one's mind, individually and collectively, and the right to freely move about this country and this city are freedoms denied in places like Iraq, where our servicemen and women, and the coalition of the willing, are on the fringes of gunbattles. All the more reason why Americans must do all they can to ensure that the certainties of liberty and justice embedded in the Constitution of these United States do indeed endure.

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