Well, if there’s one person I wouldn’t suspect of terrorism in the US, it’s Henry Rollins. Outspoken? Yes. Loud? Yes. Angry? …probably. Hater of western civilization? Not at all. However, it seems he’s caught the ire of the Australian authorities for reading a copy of Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia on the airplane. This raised the supicions of the passenger sitting next to him… and by all accounts, the end result raised Rollins’ hackles, too. In typical Rollins fashion, he sums up the event in a succinct and candid manner. From this bit on MTV.com…
“The guy phoned me in to their, like, anti-terrorist board, and they found me – they looked me up,” he said. “They looked up the flight and found out who was sitting in seat 10A and they got to me. And they said, ‘OK, you’re now a person of interest. The man next to you does not agree with your politics and he didn’t like the book you were reading.’ This kind of provocation, I don’t respond very well to. I was furious. And so I wrote back, ‘You can tell everyone at your office, including your boss, to go f— themselves. This book has been read by a ton of people – I am not a threat to your state or any state or any republic.’ ” In the actual text of his online response, Rollins added: “Baghdad’s safer than my hometown, and your PM is a sissy.”
A capsule of this event was apparently reported as far back as February 16th in Australia’s News.com.au. Furthermore, Hank himself recalls the account to some degree in his Dispatches. Rollins, who opposes both the war and the current administration, nonetheless supports the troops insofar as he feels they do their duty in serving their country and that they’ve gotten screwed over by their government; he has done several USO tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and even Honduras. In that light, it’s a shame to see that Australian officials have consumed enough of the White House kool-aid to unquestioningly paint someone with the same broad brush. Hank won’t take it sitting down, however…
“He didn’t even leave his name and address [when he called], and that, to me, is pretty cowardly,” Rollins said. “The next time I get out to Australia — that is, if they let me in — I am going to talk about that guy in every interview I do. And it will get to him. It’s a small country, in that there aren’t a lot of people there and most of the country’s just sand and flies. So it will get to him.”
… and really, I think he could teach us all a lesson with this one. For far too long, those opposed to this war have allowed itself to be stereotyped as unpatriotic… and sans a bit of whining, navel-gazing, and weak, “but, but”-laden denials regarding such accusations, no one has stood up and made a bold statement against such claims. Will anyone have the cojones to tell these warmongers to step down next time the accusation is hoisted? Will you? When will we hear something like:
I don’t support the war or this President, but that doesn’t make me patriotic. And I would recommend that you think twice before questioning me again.
Opposing the war is not ‘treason’, and to say otherwise puts your own well-being at risk.
I’m sure some of you can come up with better slogans.
If the attacks on those who oppose the war continue to succeed, it will be due to the continued passivity, as opposed to pacificism, of the anti-war crowd. One can oppose the war without being afraid to stand up for one’s self, in a defensive posture if necessary, amidst personal attacks. In closing, I’ll quote Rollins one more time, from his account of this event, as to how he feels about rabid accusations:
I really don’t take kindly to that kind of shit. I like it though. Love it. Confrontation. Tension. Adversarial relationships. More please. It’s the only time it gets real.