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7.4.03

Flynn psychoanalyzes pro- and anti-war demonstrations, saying the following about antiwar protesters:
In my mind, I don't see how these actions work other than to make the participants feel better.

He contrasts that with this statement about patriotism at NASCAR races:
they are, I suspect, trying to wrap themselves up in the American mystique of being 'good,' and, more importantly, trying to feel as if they're doing something.

Hmmm ... It seems there's plenty of self-righteousness overshadowing strategy on both sides. Flynn laments the antiwar movement's ability to convince pro-war people (because they contest certain basic assumptions of pro-war people, such as the idea that Saddam is an unavoidable security threat to the US). But I don't think shows of patriotism are terribly convincing to antiwar people -- "Support Our Troops" isn't exactly an argument, and red, white, and blue paraphernalia comes off as jingoism to those not already inclined to agree. This emphasizes the theory that mass demonstrations are about validating the demonstrators' beliefs. To the extent that they influence people, they do it by creating a discursive climate that makes it difficult to take a certain stance. For example, here in the heartland of stereotypical leftist academia, I find it hard sometimes to even hold to the view that now that we're in the war and we've messed up Iraq's infrastructure pretty good, the least bad course of action is to follow through (as opposed to the immediate withdrawal that most Clark geographers feel is the self-evidently best strategy).

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