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Protesting doesn't help

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 1:56 am    Post subject: Protesting doesn't help Reply with quote

I get really unhappy when I hear people say thing like "Protesting doesn't change a thing. You are wasting your time".

I've always felt that's a lame excuse for them to sit on their thumbs and avoid their civic duty. It's like not calling the cops when you see an old lady being mugged. As Thomas Jefferson said, "Dissent is the Highest form of Patriotism".

But my inner geek wanted proof that it helps. I crunched some numbers, and realized that by marching in Antiwar protests, I have saved a measurable number of innocent human lives. While the exact number is hard to pin down, the unarguable facts are below.

Bottom line is I saved at least one life for each day that I marched back then. If you have something better to do with your time, please tell me about it.

Planning for less death

About 4 Million civilians were killed in Vietnam during the war. After lying for years, Pretty much every nation involved now agrees to that number.

Smirky McFlightsuit claims "only" 30,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq so far. More reliable estimates run as high as 100 thousand. We'll use the pesimal (and probably more accurate) number and hope not too many more die.

4,000,000 Civilians dead in Vietnam
- 100,000 Civilians dead in Bush's Iraq attack
3,900,000 difference in civilian dead.

There's a similar gulf in Combat casualties. Vietnam saw 52,000 US Military fatalities, While Iraq has so far killed less than 3000. That seems like very few unless you're someone like Cindy Sheehan.

Any way you look at it, WAY fewer people died in Iraq than Vietnam. Both wars involved hundreds of thousands of American troops using their best weaponry (which was better in 2002 than in 1968). Clearly the U.S. Army could have killed a lot more Iraqis, so how do you explain that they did not?

For some reason, the war was planned and waged in a way that spared the millions of innocent casualties that we had in Vietnam. The Army also tried much harder to spare it's own troops. How many US troops in Vietnam had body armor? Now, the life of a "grunt" soldier is worth a lot more than in the '60s. Those running the war decided to try NOT to kill people this time, and worked at it far harder than ever before.

The reason for this is obvious - The high death rates in Vietnam were a major reason for the war's unpopularity, and these death rates were exposed and publicized by Anti-war protesters. Without a few caring people getting out the streets with signs, most Americans (the same couch potatoes who say protesting doesn't help) would have been able to ignore the War and keep watching "Gilligan's Island". Acutely aware of this, the US Government has sought to avoid excessive deaths ever since.

How many Patriots protested?

Figuring out accurately how many people protested during Vietnam, and how often, is much harder. For a single event to get more than 50,000 participants was rare - this happened less than 40 times during the entire war. So one rough estimate might be:

50,000 people times 40 Protests = 2,000,000 protestors.

The largest single turnout in one day was estimated at the time to be about two million Patriots. Maybe that was the one day everyone showed up at once.

Bottom line, I'm going to estimate that about 2 million Patriotic Americans actively protested the Vietnam war.

3,900,000 Lives saved
---------- (divided by)
2,000,000 protesters

...equals 1.95 lives saved per protester.

Not bad for a few days of marching with a sign.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has." ---Margaret Mead

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