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When they label war protesters' speech as traitorous, right-wing war supporters reveal themselves as truly anti-American.

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South by Southwest 2003 is only one week away. The SXSW Film Festival begins Friday, March 7. The Austin Music Awards (Wednesday, March 12) kick off the SXSW Music Festival (with music at 38 other clubs that night). Music Festival wristbands (good for the Music Awards) are on sale at all Star Ticket outlets. Film Passes are available at Waterloo Video. The Web site,, is loaded with information.

The SXSW Film lineup is outstanding (venues are the Paramount Theatre, the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown, the Hideout, the Austin Convention Center Theater (ACC), Westgate, and the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex), as the opening-night lineup easily demonstrates:

Go Further, presented by filmmaker Ron Mann (Grass) and Woody Harrelson, follows Woody and gang's environmental-consciousness-raising West Coast bus trip. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised makes sense of recent events in Venezuela, chillingly capturing President Hugo Chavez's ouster as well as his triumphant return (Paramount).

The controversial and celebrated Mexican director Arturo Ripstein's retrospective kicks off with El Imperio de la Fortuna. Lilya 4-Ever tells the tale of a 13-year-old girl's struggle to survive in modern Moscow (Westgate).

The Texas Show features the best of the Dallas Video Festival (the Hideout).

Valley of Tears begins with a strike in the Rio Grande Valley in 1979 that helped kick off concern about larger Mexican-American issues. Joseph Lieberman is followed from the vice-presidential campaign to the announcement of his presidential ambitions in Only in America (ACC).

Aviva Kempner's celebrated look at a baseball legend, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, initiates the SXSW Film 10th anniversary retrospective series. In The Nature of Nicholas, 12-year-old Nicholas struggles with an intense attraction to his best friend. Phantasm auteur Don Coscarelli's Bubba Ho-tep stars Bruce Campbell in a twisted tale involving Elvis Presley having to battle an Egyptian deity who's invading our world through the nursing home where the King has been stuck (Alamo).

Dancing with the one that brung us, we honor Eagle Pennell with a screening of Last Night at the Alamo, shown at the first SXSW Film Festival (Millennium).

Other great SXSW films include:

Robert Duvall directed, starred in, and will introduce Assassination Tango.

Director and star Peter Fonda offers a brand-new print of The Hired Hand, his 1971 classic Western.

Nancy Savoca (True Love, Household Saints) presents two new films. Dirt is the powerful story of Salvadorian immigrants in NYC. Reno: Rebel Without a Pause captures off-Broadway performer Reno's take on 9/11.

The life of champion prizefighter and prison boxing coach Billy "The Kid" Roth is chronicled in The Dance.

The Weather Underground documents one of the anti-Vietnam War movement's most extreme groups. The same bill offers Asylum, a powerful, disturbing short about African female genital mutilation.

The Austin Lounge Lizards are live at Antone's in Lizard Times Twenty.

American Dancer is a documentary about male strippers in Florida.

Off the Charts: The Song-Poem Story is about folks who send off their poems to be set to music.

Documentarian Liz Garbus chronicles two young girls' dealings with the juvenile justice system in girlhood.

The 10th Anniversary of SXSW Film Retrospective (filmmakers present):

Golden Globe winner Tony Shalhoub's directorial debut, Made-Up

Christopher Wilcha's The Target Shoots First

George Huang's Swimming With Sharks

Eric Saperston's The Journey

Tim McCanlies' Dancer, Texas Pop. 81

Richard Linklater's It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books, preceded by his new short, Live From Shiva's Dancefloor, featuring Speed Levitch.

There's so much more, so check SXSW information in the Chronicle or at

The ballots are counted, the lists prepared. The Austin Music Awards kick off the SXSW Music Festival on Wednesday, March 12, at the Austin Music Hall. The bill begins with Ruthie Foster followed by Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez. There are two special revues: the Hole in the Wall Gang (Paul Minor, Jane Bond, Beaver Nelson, Troy Campbell, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Tony Scalzo, Miles Zuniga, Barbara K., Darin Murphy, Ted Roddy, Andrew Duplantis, and Matt Hubbard) and the Improbable Return of Redneck Rock (Steve Fromholz, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Rusty Wier, Ray Benson, Billy Joe Shaver, and Bob Livingston). Paul Ray is the emcee; expect surprise guests.

OK, from just the first quick glance at the SXSW Music Festival schedule, acts I know and am excited about (leaving out Austin acts): The Be Good Tanyas, Supergrass, Tony Joe White, Michael Penn, Marc Olsen, Lee Ann Womack, Vic Chesnutt, Jim Lauderdale, Pete Droge, Camper Van Beethoven, the B-52s, Cat Power, John Stewart, Harvey Sid Fisher, Daniel Johnston, Sonny Landreth, John Doe, David Olney, Brave Combo, Joe Jackson, Richie Havens, Dash Rip Rock, Ron Sexsmith, the Silos, Danny Barnes, John Sinclair, and Japan's Petty Booka, and that's just the beginning (not to mention the Jayhawks/Lucinda/Willie Nelson show).

The Home-Front War: The hostility and contempt for anti-war protesters on the part of right-wing war supporters continues to grow. "Fifth columnists," "barbarians," "communist-manipulated morons," "knee-jerk bleeding hearts," and "anti-American fanatics" are some of the kinder epithets being bandied about. In the same way that 9/11 is now intimately tied to Hussein's regime, it is now accepted as fact that most protesters know this war is right, and they are against it for the most base of reasons: hating Bush, or supporting Democratic Party politics, or because they're always anti-American (the rest are mindless, pathetic pacifists who don't understand the real world).

This week's question, therefore, in light of many war supporters' disgust and contempt for the democratic process -- almost nonchalantly carried to the extreme of referring to protesters as traitors: Why are they trying to foist this miserable system of government on the Iraqis? Do they think it will work better there? Less discussion, fewer opinions, fewer ideological conflicts, less dissent -- isn't that what the Iraqis now have? Why change? Given the war faction's vehemently declared hatred of democracy in action and how it is destroying the nation's courage, whence comes their zeal to impose it on Iraq? The truth is, of course, they're not interested. The impending war is about "getting rid of Hussein" -- and every other argument is a justifying excuse for this preconceived goal.

This impending war is not about liberating the Iraqi people. Look at this country's track record over the last half-century: We've been a lot more active helping to unseat elected and/or popular governments we disagreed with than respecting the opinions of other countries' citizens. (My caveat here: I love this country's democracy and think it's been an inspiration to people all over the world in changing their governments. I'm talking about the government's active engagement in "regime change.")

There are people who defend our action as a consequence of a UN resolution, or a need to maintain the integrity of that organization -- often the same people who ordinarily turn apoplectic at UN authority. Never has the right so loved this institution; in fact, never have they wanted to do anything but abolish it.

It is not about chemical, biological, or atomic weapons of mass destruction. Ironically, Denise Caruso offered this unreported nugget in the most recent of her always fascinating e-mails: "As the USA prepares for a war against Iraq, it is being sued by Iran for its previous close relationship to Saddam Hussein. At the UN's International Court of Justice, Teheran is accusing the United States of delivering dangerous chemicals and deadly viruses to Baghdad during the 1980s."

This war is about only one thing, however illusory: the imminent threat of terrorist action against the U.S. by Iraq. Whereas the rhetoric implies this threat is just as dangerous if it occurs in the Middle East, the emotional justification underlying every statement is fear of another 9/11 incident on our soil, instigated or significantly aided by Hussein's government. If that didn't exist, none of those other arguments would even be made. Can you imagine the reaction of most of those who are getting teary-eyed about the UN mandate listening to a liberal defend a UN position before 9/11? The case for this imminent threat, no matter how valid, is the most poorly presented of the pro-invasion arguments. But it is the driving force. Obviously, Hussein is a psychopath capable of anything, but shouldn't the first pre-emptive war in our history result from clear evidence and be surrounded by less obfuscating garbage?

It is not simply my right, but my obligation, as an American citizen, to express my concerns. Regardless of consequences, speaking out can never be anti-American; not speaking out inherently is. Those whose opinion on the war is different from mine blithely assert that expressing my opposition is committing treason by speaking against the government, showing Iraq and the world a divided nation. When the right was so busy undermining Clinton's presidency, were there any real-world consequences? Is it so outlandish to suggest that the vicious, unrelenting assault on Clinton might have negatively impacted the way other countries' leaders and civilians viewed the U.S.? Especially the view of the U.S. as a cohesive society committed above all else to operating communally in the country's best interests. As you sit there self-righteously cursing demonstrators for supplying aid and comfort to the enemy, perhaps you should look in the mirror.

The demonstrators are empowering the enemy, they are scolded; if truly patriotic, they would stop, regardless of what they believe. Agreeing with our enemies is treasonable, providing them aid and comfort. Unfortunately, the logical conclusion of this reasoning is against the impending war -- there is no way al Qaeda isn't delighted at the thought of the U.S. invading another Muslim country. Ironically, the self-righteous hysterics attacking dissent are the anti-Americans, trying to destroy the ideas that historically and integrally define this country. end story

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South by Southwest 2003, SXSW 2003, South by Southwest, SXSW, SXSW Film Festival, South by Southwest Film Festival, Go Further, Ron Mann, Grass, Woody Harrelson, pro-hemp movement, Robert Duvall, Assassination Tango, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, The Weather Underground, Vietnam anti-war movement, American Dancer, Nancy Savoca

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