A Shield’s Story

"[In] those forty-five seconds, what's he going to say?" one reporter anticipated eagerly. Michael Moore, a filmmaker with a reputation for inflammatory oratory, had just been announced as winner of this year's "Best Documentary Feature" Oscar. And reporters looking for fiery words were not disappointed. Moore began, "We like non-fiction, . . . and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time when we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president. We live in the time when we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons, whether it's the fiction of duct tape or the fiction of an Orange Alert. We are against this war. Mr. Bush, shame on you . . . " This year's Academy Awards drew the smallest audience in its televised history. Perhaps Americans felt as I did, not wanting to sit and listen to Moore and others rant about things they do not understand. Of course, Moore has not been in Iraq, but other anti-war protesters like Daniel Pepper have. The London Telegraph recently ran an article written by Pepper, a young American photographer who had gone to Iraq as a "human shield," believing that "it was direct action which had a chance of bringing the anti-war movement to the forefront." Pepper and his fellow shields planned to travel around Iraq telling people, "Bush bad, war bad, Iraq good." But the first time he said this to an Iraqi, the man looked at him as if he had lost his mind. As the human shields talked with the people of Iraq, they were "scared," "concerned," and "shocked" by stories of Saddam Hussein's atrocities. After five weeks in Baghdad, Pepper concluded, "Anyone with half a brain must see that Saddam has to be taken out. It is extraordinarily ironic that the anti-war protesters are marching to defend a government which stops its people exercising that freedom." Columnist Thomas Sowell cited a young minister who also went to Iraq to protest. "Some . . . Iraqis 'told me that they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start.' Then they told him of sadistic tortures 'that made me ill' just to hear about," he wrote. I have to wonder: Why did it take a trip halfway around the world to teach people this truth? Anyone in America or Europe can pick up a newspaper and read stories of government-sponsored torture and murder in Iraq. But as Pepper points out, the fashionable view is that, while Saddam isn't the nicest guy, the American and British governments are the true villains. That is the mindset at work in Michael Moore and other protesters, like those carrying signs comparing Bush to Hitler -- and even, in a few cases, those who assault people in the name of "peace." As Daniel Pepper writes of his first days in Iraq, "The group was less interested in standing up for [Iraqis'] rights than protesting against the U.S. and U.K. governments" -- in other words, against anything that interfered with their own view of the way the world should be run. Pepper and his companions had a head-on collision with reality and, in the process, learned a lesson that has been lost on much of Hollywood and on the anti-war movement. Maybe, come to think of it, we just should send Mr. Moore and his friends tickets to visit Iraq. There is nothing quite like looking evil straight in the face to make a person see reality. For further reading and information: Daniel Pepper, "I was a naïve fool to be a human shield for Saddam," Telegraph (London), 23 March 2003. Charlotte Edwards, "Inside the deluded world of the 'human shields,'Telegraph (London), 2 March 2003. Thomas Sowell, "Who is pro-war?",, 25 March 2003. Jack Dunphy, "The Sacred Right to Be Stupid," National Review Online, 25 March 2003. "Violent clashes amid global demos," CNN, 23 March 2003. Jay Nordlinger, "'You're Late,' Bush-and-Hitler, Uncle Walter (sigh), and more," National Review Online, 25 March 2003. Jonathan V. Last, "Oscar Goes to War," Weekly Standard, 24 March 2003. David Warren, "Five days of allied successes," Ottawa Citizen, 25 March 2003. Roberto Rivera, "London Dumbstruck Blues: Celebrity 'Experts,'BreakPoint Online, 20 March 2003. BreakPoint Commentary No. 030324, "Real Wars and Movie Stars." Peggy Noonan, "Eyes on the Prize," Wall Street Journal, 24 March 2003. Robert L. Bartley, "Was This War Necessary?", Wall Street Journal, 24 March 2003. Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, The Problem of Evil (Tyndale, 1999).


Chuck Colson



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