Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Strikingly dissimilar

I'm usually wont to take on modern politics in my blog here, but this topic strikes too close to home for me to avoid it.

Cindy Sheehan, one of the more well-known American protesters against my country's involvement in Iraq, has declared herself to be on a hunger strike. Potent statement, you say? Yes, it can be. Those of us who are old enough to remember the IRA and INLA prisoners who staged one in 1981 will never forget regardless of what side of the argument you landed on then or now. Those of us who've studied Irish history know it's a tool of last resort for the common man to gain justice from someone who has offended the concept. The goal is either concession or death. One starves. One sits and waits for death or satisfaction; there is no third road.

Ms. Sheehan, however, seems to define "hunger strike" as a "liquid diet." Then there is Code Pink, an anti-Iraq War group who is calling for people to do 24-hour to two-week fasts, but to make sure they drink their fruit juice and eat avocado slices if they really need to. The ten who died in 1981 only drank water unless forced, and even that didn't stop them. And some of these self-declared "hunger strikers" are flying around the globe to discuss their goals. A true hunger strike does not involve transcontinental flights. No poet attempting to get paid would ride around the countryside discussing why he was doing it.

I'm not saying where I stand on the Iraq War. What I'm saying is they're abusing a term and a practice with a very long and unbroken tradition, and I do not like it. Not in the slightest.

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