There’s Plenty of NATO Protests, But for What?

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There’s Plenty of NATO Protests, But for What?
By RAY HANANIA • Friday, May 25, 2012/Southwest News Herald
I can’t say I was in the leadership of the protesters in 1968, but I can say I identified with what they were trying to say.

This week’s NATO protests, however, seem to be different.

In 1968, we were in the midst of a war in Vietnam that had taken more than 58,000 American lives. It was a stupid war based on a false premise that if somehow we lost, the “Domino Theory” would take place and countries around Vietnam would topple into Communist hands like domino pieces.

Today, the United States and Vietnam are business partners. We even share tourism.

Time changes everything. It even changes protests.

This past week, thousands of people came from across the country and even from around the world to protest against the NATO meetings being held in Chicago.

First of all, I don’t know why NATO had their meeting in Chicago. They should have taken the confab of military leaders and government officials to a desert in Nevada where protesting would not be so comfortable.

But it was almost like the NATO organizers wanted the protests. Protesters are always a great distraction.

In 1968, I sat on the periphery of the protests watching the clashes at the Democratic National Convention on my television set. A few years later in July 1970, as the anti-war protests increased, I attended a Sly and the Family Stone Concert at Grant Park.

Grant Park was jam-packed but for some reason, police and anti-war protestors clashed and the helicopter carrying the band refused to land. Sly never performed and concert attendees went on a destructive rant through the downtown again.

That time, I was in the middle of it as Chicago police smashed people’s skulls with their batons.

The next year in college, I remember sitting on the roof of my fraternity house watching as protesters marched down Greenbrier Street at Northern Illinois University, again demanding an end to the war. And by 1972, my draft number came up and I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force to try and get a better assignment than as a frontline grunt in the Army.

There seemed to be a higher purpose in all that back then. Again, I am not saying I was anyway involved in the leadership of any of the protests. But I identified with the protest movement.

The Vietnam War was a lie. So many Americans died there, brutally tortured by the Viet Cong.

I’m not sure what the NATO protesters were trying to say. The United States withdrew from the Iraq War, which was more of an unjust war as than the one we fought to failure in Vietnam. But we fled the Iraq War, managing only to hang its tyrant, Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with al-Qaeda or Sept. 11 terrorism.

We’re still in Afghanistan, but that war doesn’t seem to be like a war at all. There is no draft so only those people angry enough to want to go fight are actually enlisting and risking their lives. Those who see that war as a waste of lives, money and time, are staying home.

People are not being forced to participate in an injustice, though our tax dollars are funding that exercise in futility.

I’d complain about the failed leadership of President Barack Obama, but Obama is still far better than that right wing alternative Mitt Romney, who is so wealthy not even the rich in America can identify with him.

So I ask again, what was the purpose of the NATO protests? Other than to just cause trouble.

(Join Ray Hanania Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. on WSCB AM 1240 and WCFJ AM 1470 to discuss this and other topics. — City & Suburban News-Herald

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites and (Illinois News Network at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post,, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

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