Disturbing the peace

America is a nation born out of protest. Ever since the days of the Boston Tea Party, every person in America who has ever waved a sign or marched in a picket line has tried to help harness that same evocative power for his or her causes.

But Sunday saw an ugly example of what selfish human beings are capable of when they embrace a cause without harboring the smallest speck of common sense, respect or shame.

While worshippers at Holy Name Catholic Cathedral in Chicago calmly awaited the day's Easter sermon, six protesters suddenly jumped to their feet and started shouting their opposition to the Iraq War, then squirted blood on themselves and on shocked parishioners.

By the time ushers and security guards removed the six, the damage had been done. Frightened, innocent people in the church were left in tears -- their Easter clothes defiled with red dye -- struggling to figure out who could be so despicable as to intrude on their cherished day of peace.

A friend of the protesters said that with all the deadly violence against Iraqi citizens on their holy days, maybe now the worshippers at Holy Name will know how it feels. "The idea is to bring that back here, not necessarily in a brutal way, but in a peaceful way," Mike Harding said.

Peaceful? Squirting fake blood on innocent churchgoers? Frightening children? Yelling anti-American maledictions in a place of worship? What's even remotely peaceful about interrupting the worship of God with ugly, unwarranted attacks?

Did these protesters actually think parishioners would pause, thoughtfully ponder this anti-war attack and agree with it? "Gee, I supported our soldiers before, but these maniacs spewing fake blood in my beloved church delivered a reasoned, logical argument here today." It's a twisted logic too ridiculous to imagine.

Here's the real message the protesters delivered Sunday. Through their horrible misdeeds, they announced to the world that they don't really care about peace. If they did, they wouldn't have barged into a church, during one of the most sacred holidays on the Christian calendar, and ruined a peaceful day for peaceful worshippers.

Jay Ambrose, a Colorado commentator who frequents our pages, encapsulated the mind-set of the monomaniacal radical protester superbly in a recent column, citing Eric Hoffer's 1951 book The True Believer: "People such as you who are fanatically devoted to their causes are almost always societal losers ... . You don't have much success at anything. Your life is a shambles. And so you find meaning by belonging to a group that attaches itself not to the dreadful here and now that you cannot handle, but to some great and glorious future that you will help bring about."

The protesters responsible for ruining Easter at Holy Name deserve every last ounce of scorn from an enraged public, and a heavy punishment. And after a judge throws the book at the guilty parties, someone should throw them a second book --a dictionary, so they can look up the real meaning of the word "peace."

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