Tear Gas and the Profession

I have been watching the events in Pakistan with interest and more than a little fear. On one hand, I realize that Pakistan is the lynchpin of American strategy in the region and an uncooperative Pakistani government would be an enormous set back to American efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Worse, a Pakistani government unable to cope with Islamic extremism within Pakistan would be a nightmare. On the other hand, supporting friendly strongmen in Islamic countries has not been a policy that has paid off for the United States in the long run. Witness the fruits of our more or less unquestioning support for the Saudis and the Mubarak over the last generation.

Despite the scary prospect of instability in Pakistan, however, I have to admit that the image of thousands of lawyers protesting the arrest of the Chief Justice and the suspension of the constitution and getting tear gassed for their efforts made me proud of the profession.

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5 Responses

  1. Frank says:

    I agree. It certainly gives a new and darker meaning to the often joking invocation of Shakespeare’s “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

  2. Jane says:

    Yes, isn’t it inspiring? I’d like to see our members of the bar show such passion!

  3. I’m not a believer in being proud over the exploits of others, when I’ve had no part to play in their deeds. Rather than American lawyers patting ourselves on the back, trying to bask in the glow of the courageous Pakistani lawyers, I believe we need to ask just what we are doing, individually and as a profession, to ensure Constitutional rights for even unpopular persons and causes — especially now, e.g., in the face of arguments that fighting terrorism trumps Constitutional protections. And, we need to frankly assess what we’d be willing to do in the streets to avert tyranny. See my post today, “first, compare all the lawyers at f/k/a.

  4. Nate Oman says:

    David: You misunderstand the claim. I am not suggesting that American lawyers are somehow virtuous because of the actions of Pakistani lawyers. Rather, I am suggesting that there is something about being lawyers — e.g. a respect for law and the independence of courts — that caused the Pakistani’s to take to the streets. Hence, your outrage at this post and your little homily, while uplifting, are somewhat misplaced.

  5. nedu says:


    The sight of Pakistani lawyers gasping and wretching in the streets under noxious clouds of tear gas inspires feelings of pure nobility. Don’t denigrate that. Show some cultural sensitivity, man.