Editor: We came upon your publication while waiting in line with my husband at the bank. It was the day before Veteran’s Day so I was not surprised to see news stories about veterans in this issue. However, we were taken aback by your cartoon with this text, “Next time you exert your right to protest the President or the government, thank a veteran.”
Yes, we do have the “right” to protest the president or the government, yet we have no logical obligation to thank a veteran for that right. The right to protest our government we inherited from our forefathers who crafted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” History has shown that when rights are not exercised by citizens those rights can be lost.
So, if anyone is to be “thanked” for the right to protest, it should be those who have risked liberty, life and limb to exercise that right. That would include those in movements such as suffragettes, labor rights, civil rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ, farm workers, immigrant rights, environmental and animal rights, as well as those who have protested unjust wars. Protestors who non-violently confront injustice have had to face heavily armed police or SWAT officers who sprayed them with tear gas, pepper spray, water guns, attacked them with horses, dogs, military vehicles, who stalked them, infiltrated them, surveilled them, listened to their phone conversations, threatened them and yes, even assassinated them. It is these activists, who risk all, to stand up for the oppressed, who should be thanked for keeping the “right to protest” alive in our time.
While veterans may rightfully be honored for sacrifices they make to defend this country when necessary, it is historically inaccurate to state they are due recognition for our “right to protest.”
Désirée and Lenny Bianchi, Bluemont