IT is foolish to think the violence at last Tuesday's "peace" rallies was some kind of mistake. A venting of honest passion.
No, it was meant. It was organised. And it wasn't the last you'll see of it -- not while we remain so unwilling to defend and to celebrate our society and its values.
In Sydney, four police were taken to hospital after "peace" marchers pelted them with chairs, bottles, stones and sticks.
At least two protesters were found with knives, and 33 were arrested, many of them young Muslim men, who waded into the fight chanting, "Allah is great!"
Yet a protest organiser, Josh Ryan, called the day a "success" and happily promised to do even better this week by shutting down the entire Sydney CBD.
"We want to cause as much disruption as possible," he said. And with another gang or two of unassimilated Lebanese Muslim toughs to help, he may just manage it, too.
Anything is possible, given how the people behind this protest have been deliberately recruiting Muslim youths to their cause.
In Perth on that same Tuesday, protesters pelted police with bottles of urine, paint and tomatoes. Twelve people were arrested.
In Melbourne, too, there were arrests after protesters wrestled with police.
A coincidence? Perhaps not, when you look at the record of the main people behind the demonstrations.
Ryan, for instance, is a member of the International Socialist Organisation, which has helped to run some of our most violent protests, including the S11 riot outside Crown casino.
Indeed, it was Ryan who last year praised as "extremely well-behaved" the protesters who fought police outside a World Trade Organisation meeting in Sydney in another melee that ended with 19 arrests.
Well-behaved is perhaps right, from his point of view. After all, the ISO's Australian branch declares that "the capitalist system -- parliament, the military, the law -- is a weapon of class rule and must be smashed".
One way the ISO tries to do this is by provoking a clash with police, and then using radical lawyers, meek magistrates, sympathetic journalists and taxpayer-funded community legal centres to punish them for "police brutality".
Police tell me it works so well they now think twice before standing in the way of rampaging protesters, as you may have seen. Why blame them, when not one demonstrator at the S11 riot was fined, but four police were disciplined?
YOU may not have heard much of the ISO, but there's a reason for that. It has perfected the Trotskyist technique of quietly taking over front organisations.
For instance, its leaders are the main spokesmen for the prominent Refugee Action Collective, whose own protests, from Sydney to Woomera, are also nasty.
But most of the running of last week's Australia-wide student protests was this time left to a group called Books Not Bombs, which -- typically -- is actually a front for the Democratic Socialist Party and its youth wing, Resistance.
These outfits also don't rule out using violence, urging "working people" to fight this "rotten capitalist system" by "whatever means necessary".
In fact, getting students shook up in a fight with police is considered useful because it radicalises them. That's why the anti-war cause is so good for the far-Left -- it lets them sidle up to thousands of excitable teenagers, and whip them into battle in our streets.
And so you hear the DSP say it's the "clear duty of the Left" to "subvert" the war to "knock out Saddam Hussein", because it's really just "neo-colonial domination" by wicked capitalists.
It's also why both Resistance and the ISO dominate the Victorian Peace Network, which has co-ordinated most of the "peace" protests around the state.
These included the blockading last week of Melbourne's Defence Plaza, during which protesters, including a man once jailed for assaulting Premier Steve Bracks, physically stopped soldiers from going to work.
This exploitation of the "peace" movement by radical far-Left groups is not limited to Australia, either.
Last month's worldwide anti-war protests were partly coordinated by ANSWER, an American front for the Workers World Party, Stalinists who claim "Iraq has done nothing wrong".
In Britain, the main "peace" group is the Stop the War coalition, which is chaired by a leader of the Communist Party of Britain.
Of course, it seems ludicrous to think such groups truly menace our country.
But it's not the size of the germ that threatens us, but the weakness of our resistance. That's why we should worry that so many of our institutions have turned against our culture and the traditions that have made us so rich, free and peaceful.
We see this even as our soldiers fight for our safety and for Iraq's liberation.
Teacher unions are ruled by far-Left activists, who have told their members to read out anti-war "peace" messages to their students.
Community legal centres, which we pay to help poor people with their legal problems, are aiding the Victorian Peace Network.
VicHealth, which we pay to improve the health of Victorians, has its chief executive -- a New Age hot gospeller -- addressing peace meetings on Iraq.
LEGAL academics, who saw nothing in Saddam Hussein's genocidal career to make them publicly complain, now warn we may be charged with war crimes for toppling the tyrant.
Trades Hall uses the dues of workers, meant to win them better conditions, for an anti-war campaign, which it said could involve bans on supplies to our soldiers.
Melbourne Museum, on which we spent nearly $300 million to teach us our past, has not one display to honour our explorers, but does run Saddam-friendly anti-Western propaganda in its John Pilger exhibition.
Our jaded churches, now searching for new gods, are so influenced by the Gospel of St Marx that their annual Palm Sunday march boasts more red flags than crosses.
As for "our" ABC, consider this: the first question the ABC's Jon Faine asked of Prime Minister John Howard once war began was a demand that he guarantee Saddam got a fair trial.
A fair trial for Saddam? Worry instead whether there's still enough people to give a fair go to Australia, and all who defend her.
HERALD SUN 31.3. 2003