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

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

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, Hanania 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. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Ray Hanania