Civil Disobedience: Tilting at War
Published on Monday, June 5, 2006 by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Civil Disobedience: Tilting at War

It didn't accomplish much. The ship sailed off toward Iraq with its cargo of Stryker combat vehicles. Some might even dismiss the whole thing as silly, and the participants even sillier.

For the better part of the last week in May, a growing group of demonstrators picketed at the Port of Olympia. They tried, in vain, of course, to block delivery of the vehicles, which arrived in a string of 20 convoys from Fort Lewis.

"Stop that boat!" they shouted as the USNS Pomeroy sailed away from the dock Wednesday.

Twenty-two of them had been arrested the day before. A few were pepper-sprayed in the process.

Civil disobedience does, and should, have its price. It's there where the value of civil disobedience lies. A lot of people had to go to jail in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963. But that wasn't the point. The point was that so many people had to go to jail that the jails were filled, and the nation's attention was drawn to the question of why. What was important was not that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had to go to jail, but that he did go to jail.

King wrote in his autobiography: "I became convinced that non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good."

To their credit, folks with the Olympic Movement for Justice and Peace didn't try to block the shipment of supplies to soldiers already in Iraq. Their sacrifice was slight. Their gesture was futile. But their non-cooperation with something judged as evil is worthy of note.  

© 2006 Seattle Post-Intelligencer