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Twelve years ago this week, I rode a bus from New York to DC to protest the first Gulf War with a couple hundred thousand of my fellow Americans. I wish I could go for this weekend's big anti-war march. The stakes are so much higher, and the climate is so much more distressing.

Astonishingly, the media seem to be covering the event before it happens and not several days after the fact, as in October. But the tone of the coverage hasn't changed much. Reporters still seem amazed that anyone other than grey-ponytailed Sixties throwbacks and piercy-faced little trustafarian punks would ever organize to raise their voices in dissent. For example, see today's Trib: Protesting war, groups battle stereotypes too. But the movement that will be marching in the nation's capital, and took to the airwaves Thursday with an anti-war ad campaign, includes a complex cast of other organizations that are not on the edges of American society. Wow! Really? But where do these dreaded stereotypes come from? Oh, right.

Ever since Seattle, the media have been sticking to their story that every gathering of sign-totin' citizens could explode into an uncontrollable mob of Starbucks-smashing anarchists, so we need spy cameras and fenced-in "free speech zones" and an increasingly militarized police force armed with tear gas and truncheons and even live ammunition for crowd control (you all saw the story that police in the 2001 anti-globalization protests in Genoa recently admitted they planted Molotov cocktails in the dorms where activists were staying so they'd be justified in using deadly force against peaceful crowds, right? You didn't see that? What a surprise!). And what are they protesting, anyway? I'm too busy to read their signs! If they can't give me a PowerPoint presentation on their main grievances and all possible solutions (that don't require any sacrifice on my part) they must be just a bunch of puppet-obsessed loonies with no coherent message. Get a job, hippies! Hey, look at this weirdo in the turtle costume! I bet he's Noam Chomsky's boyfriend! Hey, Chomsky-fucker! Love it or leave it! Eat it or wear it! Exercising your constitutional right to free association and assembly means you hate America because Saddam is killing his own people! Why do you hate freedom? Go back to Russia! I just drone on and on and on, never letting anyone get a word in edgewise, until I start foaming at the mouth and falling over backwards, ohhhhh!

Yeah, so maybe the coverage of this march will be factual, substantive, thought-provoking and intelligent.

Replies: 9 Confessions

And maybe monkeys will fly out of my butt.

I mean, yes. I'm sure you're right.

Phineas @ 01/17/2003 01:48 PM CST

Here is a link to a story about what happened to my friend Sally Norton when she went to the State of the Science Conference in DC last October. Coverage is, according to Sally, factual, substantive, thought-provoking, and intelligent.

elavil @ 01/17/2003 02:01 PM CST

What? You mean that even if I have nothing to hide, I could be thrown in jail? I am *shocked*, I tell you!

jima @ 01/17/2003 03:05 PM CST

Or if not thrown in jail, at least stripped and ordered to squat and cough. Obviously attending the State of the Science conference is hazardous to your health (something I tried to explain to Sally before she left, but with a very different rationale).

elavil @ 01/17/2003 03:33 PM CST

Jebus, that article is terrifying.

amyc @ 01/17/2003 03:52 PM CST

Yup. It's one thing to go to an event prepared to get thrown in jail (as was routine when Nixon was running things), and another thing entirely to go out for a bagel during a conference and end up in the hands of someone like Ramsey. Sally says she had problems with her thumbs for TWO WEEKS after the incident, because of handcuffs, and her chronic bad back is still not quite right.

elavil @ 01/17/2003 04:08 PM CST

Speaking of newspapers that don't get it, apparently Neil Steinberg has gone mad.

It was Edmund Burke who said the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Looking around, at the peace protesters, at how angry they are over a war that has not yet started, how much hate they have for their country, it was hard not to see them as the very agents of evil itself. The devil, when he comes, of course, will come cloaked in disguise, as a man of peace.

That's right: you're either with the Bush administration, or you're with the Devil.

jima @ 01/17/2003 04:13 PM CST

Neil's shown signs of cracking lately (like when he wrote about his discussion w/his kid re: Iraq which came down to: "if we don't start a war w/Iraq, who will?" I guess "nobody" wasn't an acceptable answer.), but he's really gone now. I saw him on the Milwaukee North train recently (same train favored by SuperAgent Joel "Combover" Weisman), but that's when I (for the most part) thought he was sane. Note that if you're looking to spot Scott "Grisham" Turow, he rides the Union Pacific North.

"Mike Holliday" @ 01/17/2003 08:33 PM CST

Yes, it's a shame that Steinberg, who made a name (or at least a pseudonym) for himself demolishing the simplistic worldview of Bob Greene would declare that anyone opposed to the war is demonic.

amyc @ 01/19/2003 05:36 PM CST

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