Dancing for the Future

The world watched yesterday as ecstatic Iraqi people toppled statues of the brutal dictator who had been oppressing and murdering them for decades.

They cheered American troops, and kissed pictures of George Bush, and behaved in many ways contrary to those who had mistakenly predicted disaster for this foreign adventure of the president. Those who had done so must have been embarrassed to watch the images on the television screen, or perhaps averted their eyes.

Or perhaps not. They may instead simply live in an alternate reality — in denial. The organization that has coordinated and sponsored the majority of the marches against the war doesn't see the joy of the liberated Iraqis as even a speed bump — they're holding yet another spasm of marches against their liberation this coming Saturday, April 12.

Let's ignore the fact (for the moment) that the Iraqi people are clearly (unless you're as out of touch with reality as International A.N.S.W.E.R is) jubilant over their release from decades of tyranny and brutality. Just who is it that has been working feverishly, night and day for months to prevent that?

The "peace" movement (I use the quotes, because many of them don't seem to be in favor of peace so much as opposed to the removal of a brutal dictator who has been ceaselessly waging war on his own people for decades) marches in the street, and often goes beyond that, obstructing traffic and commerce, even beating people, all to the purpose of keeping in power a monster who had a Department of Rape, who imprisoned children because they wouldn't join his version of a Hitler Youth, whose son had carte blanche to violate every woman, young or old, in the nation, without consequence, who didn't just shred inconvenient documents, but inconvenient people. (I truly hope that the past tense in the latter part of that sentence is now correct.)

And they are led by an organization that has never met a brutal dictator it doesn't like (except, in their fevered fantasies, George Bush), an organization that supports a tyrannical regime in North Korea that has almost certainly already developed nuclear weapons, and hungers for more, and another in the Caribbean that takes advantage of the current world turmoil to stifle what little dissent it had previously allowed to exist. The common thread that connects all of its causes is a violent and virulent opposition to human freedom in general and the United States in particular, and they are causes that should be, in former President Reagan's words, "on the ashheap of history."

These people aren't against war. They're just on the other side, and well-meaning people who have been willing to march with them should do so no longer. I'd be willing to bet that if the American Nazi Party organized a march in a cause in which they believed, they'd find some other way to protest that wouldn't associate themselves with it. They should take exactly the same attitude toward International A.N.S.W.E.R.

But there are better things to do on April 12 than march in support of brutal dictators and failed ideas. Rather than supporting dead and dying ideologies of the past, we can instead celebrate an event of the past that's all about a bright human future.

Saturday will be the 42nd anniversary of Russian Yuri Gagarin's flight into space — the first by a human being. It's also the 22nd anniversary of the first flight of Columbia (and any space shuttle), that was tragically lost a little over two months ago.

A few years ago, a couple of young people decided to create a world-wide party on that date to commemorate and celebrate these anniversaries of man's first tentative achievements in expanding humankind off the planet. The first attempt was a spectacular success, and they've kept up the instant tradition every year.

They call it Yuri's Night, and they coordinate all of the activities through a Web site. The site shows the locations for all of the planned parties, all over the planet, and they will be going non-stop for the 24 hours of April 12, as the planet turns, converting day to night on each continent.

As you can see from the map, most of the parties are in North America and Europe, but there are some on every continent on the planet (except, perhaps, Antarctica). Most of the U.S. population lives near one.

Even if you can't attend, you can celebrate in another way. They are also supporting this petition, originated by the National Space Society, to honor the loss of the Columbia crew and ship, by continuing to support the critical efforts needed to eventually flower the universe with humanity.

So this weekend, don't futilely march against a war that everyone in Iraq seems to support other than Baathist Party members and foreign terrorists. Instead, sign a petition for the future, put on your dancing shoes, and celebrate their new-found liberty, a bright future for this planet and perhaps, eventually, many others. And next year, may they be able to celebrate Yuri's Night in a free and prosperous Baghdad as well.

Rand Simberg is a recovering aerospace engineer and a consultant in space commercialization, space tourism and Internet security. He offers occasionally biting commentary about infinity and beyond at his Web log, Transterrestrial Musings.

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