I had barely been in the nation’s capitol for three weeks when I gotthe chance to see the ultimate tourist attraction. A large scale,American style, Antiwar Protest! In front of the White House,too, even! A picture perfect opportunity for me to show myfriends back what kind of life I was living in Washington, DC.
Therally was scheduled to start at 12pm, with the march to begin at 1:30,a slinging, triangular path around the White House, down PennsylvaniaAvenue, and back around to the Washington Monument. At the rally,there would be an array of speakers. The two sponsoring groups,United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), a mainstream-ish left coalition ofvarious antiwar groups, and ANSWER Coalition, a far left, avowedMarxist, anti-semitic group, would share the tab, each supplying 45minutes of rocking speaker entertainment. Or, at least, that wasthe agreement.
Bill Dobbs, Communications Director for UFPJ,told me that “well, we decided to cosponsor the rally with ANSWERrather than have two competing rallies in DC, and hope that this timethey would keep to their agreement.” Keep to thereagreement? Even antiwar groups have secret, backdoor dealings?
UFPJwas first. They brought out the big hitters – Cindy Sheehan,Jesse Jackson, British Member of Parliament George Galloway, amongothers. Each speaker kept it short, riveted the crowd. Boy,we were ready to march! Lets get going up to that White House andtell Bush how much he sucks in creative, pictorial signs andacronyms! Nothing like acronyms to change the path of history!
Butthen came ANSWER’s speakers. First it was a rabid,pro-Palestinian activist. Then an angry black guy. Then tworabid, borderline anti-semitic, pro-Palestinian activists. Thenan angry Communist. Then, a family of angry, seemingly torturedPalestinians. A self hating Jew. More angry Arabs. AngryFilipinos? Ohhh, they’re Filipino Muslims!
ANSWER obviously can not say no to anyone who wants to speak. And so it went on and on and on. It was 1:30. Then 2. Then 2:30. Angry people kept marched up to the stage, demandingthe march begin already. I was in cahoots with them – we didn’tcome all the way downtown to watch unknowns attempt to connect Iraq toevery issue in the world! The crowd booed the relentless streamof speakers. Any organization to these events that had existedbefore was *poof*gone, just like the Democrats after 9/11.
Someone had to come save the day. Everyone follow the giant flags.
Likedogs following a bone around a race track, Americans rally around theflag. Even Liberals, it seems. The rally finally got goingwhen a group of activists, holding giants, vertical. purple and redflags, began to move toward the march starting point. Soon thewhole crowd followed, and the ANSWER stage was left with a few hundreddiehards.
The action’s done here. Time to jet.
Itwas as if the crowd was made of post-Vietnamese protesters, trying torelive the old days, and nostalgic young people, jealous that theirelders got to have all the fun back then. Yet seeing 60 year oldsin tie-die t-shirts, and long beards just didn’t seem right. Itwas like a badly made about the 60’s where they couldn’t find enoughyoung people.
But young people were here. Not, not marching. They were at the concert!
Yep. No better way to show the unity of the antiwar movement then to stage ahuge concert in front of the Washington Monument, the ending point forthe 3 1/2 hour long march. You know how much neo-conservativeshate jam bands, Steve Earl, anything French sounding (Le Tigre) and 20something odd unknown acts (at least to me). Maybe if they rockout loud enough, Bush will withdraw the troops just to get some sleep!
But,I digress. I was missing the point of the weekend. Formany, this was an out of state vacation, a time to reconvene withfellow peace lovers and have a good time. And that was one thingthat was certainly true about this rally. Everyone was definitelyhaving a rocking time. So rock on, Thievery Corporation, causethis show ain’t ending till 4AM,and tomorrow, there’s more to come! I wonder if the60’scouldcompare to this. Protests are here to stay, 90’s style, atleastuntil the next war.