Opposing Every War But The Current One, Supporting Civil Rights But Never Right Now

Caitlin Johnstone
6 min readMay 3, 2024


Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

In remarks defending the brutal suppression of university demonstrations protesting his genocide in Gaza, President Biden argued that protesting is allowed in the United States so long as it’s polite and doesn’t disrupt anything or upset anybody.

“We are not an authoritarian nation where we silence people or squash dissent,” said Biden. “The American people are heard. In fact, peaceful protest is in the best tradition of how Americans respond to consequential issues.”

“But,” the president continued, “neither are we a lawless country. We are a civil society, and order must prevail.”

Biden went on to argue that “violent protest is not protected” as a form of free expression, sailing right past the fact that the only actual violence we’ve seen from these protests came from the police sent in to crack skulls and the bands of pro-Israel thugs who’ve been attacking campus demonstrators. Biden instead followed his false accusation of “violence” by listing offenses against inanimate objects: destroying property, vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows. He also listed the offenses of “shutting down campuses” and “forcing the cancellation of classes and graduations” — none of which were done by the demonstrators.

“Threatening people, intimidating people, instilling fear in people is not peaceful protest,” said Biden, citing zero examples of this ridiculous allegation, adding that “dissent must never lead to disorder” and that “there’s the right to protest but not the right to cause chaos.”

The president then of course went on to babble about “antisemitism” for awhile, on no basis whatsoever.

Again, this person is defending an authoritarian police crackdown on peaceful demonstrators protesting against his own actions. The US president is saying don’t worry about the jackbooted tyranny and suppression you’re seeing against critics of the US president, because the tyranny and suppression is approved of by that same US president.

And that’s the Democratic Party for you, folks. That’s everything it is right there. It is violence wrapped in politeness. It is fascism cloaked in lip service to civil rights.

Shortly before Columbia University called in police to smash the anti-genocide demonstrations on campus the other day, 21 House Democrats signed a letter addressed to the university’s board of trustees demanding they shut down the “anti-Jewish activists on campus.”

“It is past time for the University to act decisively, disband the encampment, and ensure the safety and security of all of its students,” the lawmakers declared.

This is the same party that always cites its support for civil rights and social justice as a primary reason for people to vote for them, constantly referencing Martin Luther King Jr and other civil rights leaders — who were all intensely despised by the establishment of their own time — as heroes we should all strive to emulate.

Now they’re openly supporting the same tyrannical measures as Republicans to shut down criticism of their government’s genocidal and unjust policies, with no regard for the constitutional rights of those critics to speech and assembly. They try to make themselves look progressive and reasonable while doing it, saying it’s about fighting “antisemitism” and keeping the peace, but their actual behavior is no different from the tyrants who attacked anti-war protesters and civil rights activists in the sixties.

As Democrats get worse and worse the longer Biden’s genocide in Gaza continues, I find myself recalling a tweet that went viral back in November by an account with the handle @eyeballslicer, “A liberal is someone who opposes every war except the current war and supports all civil rights movements except the one that’s going on right now.”

That tweet has gotten more and more relevant every day since. If you were to pick a banner to hang above western liberalism over the past seven months, that banner would need to contain those words. It’s been true of mainstream liberals for a very long time, but it encapsulates the response we’ve been seeing to Gaza with a special kind of perfection.

Have you ever noticed how the spinmeisters responsible for normalizing our dystopian status quo use time as a psychological weapon? It’s the damnedest thing. They push all support for revolutionary change into either the past or the future, while insisting that status quo norms must be maintained in the present.

Once you notice this tactic, you see it everywhere. When they’re not shaking their fists at the crimes of the past like Vietnam, Iraq or segregation and applauding past struggles for social justice like women’s suffrage or Black civil rights, they’re claiming that you can get all the drastic revolutionary change you want in the future if you just elect more Democrats into office.

Over and over again in many different ways, people are fed the message: “Revolution and change are wonderful, just not right now. The revolutionary sentiments of the past did great things we should all celebrate, and one day in the future we will have revolutionary change once again, but right now we need to keep supporting the way things are and hold very still and try very hard not to annoy the powerful people who rule over us.”

It’s actually kind of impressive once you notice it, because this malignant manipulation requires an almost buddha-like understanding of time and the present moment. At some point the manipulators figured out that there’s only ever the here-and-now and that the past and the future have no existence except in our memory and imagination, so you can give the people all the revolution they want so long as you’re only giving it to them in the past or the future.

You saw an early prototype of this manipulation with the rise of Christianity, wherein people were encouraged to forget about the material comforts enjoyed by their rulers and focus instead on how great it’s going to be when they die and go to Heaven. All their hopes are deferred to this imaginary, invisible reward in the future, and in the meantime they’re told to glorify poverty, meekness, obedience, and above all never rise up against all the rich people and take back what they stole from you.

This world will never see the changes it so desperately needs as long as we keep letting them manipulate us like this. Change needs to happen, and it can only happen now. Now is the only place where revolution can possibly occur. Stop letting them bury it under the appearance of time, and birth it into reality.


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