Sunday, September 25, 2005

Horatius at the Mall 

Well over a hundred thousand anti-war protesters (C-SPAN reportedly estimated half a million) hit the streets of Washington, D.C., and the AP gives it 17 grafs, most of them one sentence long. What did the protestors have to say about Mr. Bush's war? Well, not much. AP quotes a couple of them:
Connie McCroskey, 58, came from Des Moines, Iowa, with two of her daughters, both in their 20s, for the family's first demonstration. McCroskey, whose father fought in World War II, said she never would have dared protest during the Vietnam War.

"Today, I had some courage," she said.
Ms. McCroskey's account of her own personal growth, although quite touching, really had nothing to do with the reasons for the protest, so the AP was compelled to keep searching for a representative voice of outrage. The chosen one: Paul Rutherford, 60, of Vandalia, MI, who turns out to be -- of all things! -- "a Republican who supported Bush in the last election and still does - except for the war":
"President Bush needs to admit he made a mistake in the war and bring the troops home, and let's move on," Rutherford said. His wife, Judy, 58, called the removal of Saddam Hussein "a noble mission," but said U.S. troops should have left when claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction proved unfounded.
And there you have the full range of opinion from the 100,000 to 500,000 enraged citizens in the crowd. The only other direct quote in the article comes, of course, from the unhinged demon bitch herself:
Cindy Sheehan, the California mother who drew thousands of demonstrators to her 26-day vigil outside Bush's Texas ranch last month, won a roar of approval when she took the stage. Her 24-year-old son, Casey, was killed in Iraq last year.

"Shame on you," Sheehan admonished, directing that portion of her remarks to members of Congress who backed Bush on the war. "How many more of other people's children are you willing to sacrifice?"
A day later, four hundred pro-war demonstrators (four hundred! Enough to fill a good-sized restaurant two or three times over) turn out for a counter-rally, and the AP gives them fourteen grafs. The nice thing about achieving two percent of your expected turnout -- organizers were predicting 20,000 -- is that damn near everyone who does show up gets to give the AP a nice juicy quote:
"No matter what your ideals are, our sons and daughters are fighting for our freedom," said Marilyn Faatz, who drove from New Jersey to attend the rally. "We are making a mockery out of this. And we need to stand united, but we are not" . . . .

"The group who spoke here the other day did not represent the American ideals of freedom, liberty and spreading that around the world," Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, told the crowd. "I frankly don't know what they represent, other than to blame America first" . . . .

Melody Vigna, 44, of Linden, Calif., said she wants nothing to do with Sheehan and others at nearby Camp Casey, an anti-war site set up to honor her son, Casey, who was killed in Iraq. "Our troops are over there fighting for our rights, and if she was in one of those countries she would not be able to do that," Vigna said . . . .

"I know how much my husband [a marine in Iraq] does and how hard he works, and I feel like they don't even recognize that and give him the respect he deserves," [Sherri] Francescon said. "I want him to know and I want his unit to know that America is behind them, Cindy doesn't speak for us, and that we believe in what they are doing."
We already know that a trio of Romans can hold off the entire Etruscan army, if they are strategically positioned. Can 400 Bush-lovin' wingers hold off 100,000, or 300,000, or 500,000 antiwar protesters thronging the streets of the nation's capital?

They sure can -- if they're strategically positioned by the press. Don't believe us? Just do a Google search on "Washington protest march" and see which group gets the lion's share of the headlines.

UPDATE (courtesy of Zemblan patriot J.D.): Cindy Sheehan has a few words for Karl Rove:
Last weekend, Karl Rove said that I was a clown and the antiwar movement was "non-existent." I wonder if the hundreds of thousands of people who showed up today to protest this war and George's failed policies know that they don't exist. It is also so incredible to me that Karl thinks that he can wish us away by saying we aren't real. Well, Karl and Co., we are real, we do exist and we are not going away until this illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq is over and you are sent back to the depths of whatever slimy, dark, and loathsome place you came from. I may be a clown Karl, but you are about to be indicted. You also preside over one of the biggest three ring, malevolent circuses of all time: the Bush administration.

The rally today was overwhelming and powerful. The reports that I was arrested today were obviously false. The peace rally was mostly very peaceful. Washington, DC was filled with energetic and proud Americans who came from all over to raise their voices in unison against the criminals who run our government and their disastrous policies that are making our nation more vulnerable to all kinds of attacks (natural and "Bush" made disasters).
UPDATE II: Surprisingly, considering his relatively limited resources, our eminent colleague Tom Engelhardt managed to interview a considerably wider range of protesters than did his AP counterparts:
Disabled Vet Steve Hausheer: "We need to support the troops," he insists with feeling and then, after a pause, "by bringing them home. We're stuck now. We've torn Iraq apart and there are going to be no easy answers. George Bush has taken us so far down the wrong road that it's going to be very difficult to find our way back. My wish is that the people speak up until Congress and the other forty percent of America that still thinks he's doing a good job change their mind.

"The men we're trying to bring home are true heroes and we need to treat them as such. It isn't bad enough that he put them in harm's way through a lie, now he's working to treat them as anything but heroes. Can you believe it? He wants to cut their disability payments!"

I thank him, we shake hands, he begins to don his gloves and then, at the last second, he calls me back. "One more thing," he says and begins to give me this final comment in a slow, measured way as you might dictate to a stenographer: "I want to put this country back into the hands of men and women who are dedicated to serving the American people instead of themselves and their cronies." He stops, satisfied, and then adds, "This would be my quote, if you have to pick one."

Cathy Hickling, Republican for Impeachment: "My odyssey," she says, "simply is: I've been a registered Republican for in excess of thirty years and I think the Party's been hijacked by the policies of George Bush! I think a president should be smarter than I am.

"This is my first demonstration. I felt strongly enough to come. What I hope will happen is that the Democrats and Republicans with a mindset similar to mine get people to change their minds about the direction this country is taking. Remember, Clinton was impeached for a lot less. I saw a sign that said, ‘Clinton lied, no one died,' and that just about sums it up.

"This is an antiwar protest, but I'm not here to support the idea that we should be leaving Iraq immediately. Now that we're there, we need to finish the job, but it's folly to think that the people who got us there can get us out."

Merry Conway, Artist: He hands me a little bag of green plastic soldiers of the sort I played with as a child and, strangely enough, in the midst of this antiwar demonstration, my heart takes a leap. I genuinely want them.

Each soldier, whether shooting or throwing a grenade, turns out to have a little piece of paper attached that says, "Bring me home" and includes the Mouths Wide Open website address. There's even a small explanation in the bag that begins, "We're spreading plastic Army Men around the country and around the globe as small, everyday reminders of the ongoing horrors of the war in Iraq -- using them as tools to foster dialogue, action and resistance to the war."

I ask if he'd mind being interviewed, which flusters him. He finally indicates Merry Conway, who is older . . . "We're a little group of friends in New York. Many are artists. We came together after 9/11 to see what we could do. We created the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Crusade. Maybe you've seen it at other demonstrations. It's huge. But we were still thinking about how to create a dialogue, because so many people were acting as if the war wasn't happening if they didn't have a relative involved. It was business as usual. What, we thought, if we left a trace, started that dialogue with a poignant emotional effect. And these little toy soldiers that so many boys have played with are it . . . .

"People get very excited about putting them in places and then other people find them. The other day we got an email from a cop who had found one in the Federal Courthouse in New York and he was so moved he wrote us."
A few of the protest signs that Engelhardt saw, but AP somehow managed to miss:
  • Yeeha is not a foreign policy
  • Ex-Republican. Ask me why
  • Bush is a disaster! (with the President's face in the eye of a hurricane)
  • W's the Devil, One Degree of Separation
  • Make levees not war
  • Dude -- There's a War Criminal in My White House!!!
  • Bored with Empire
  • Pro Whose Life?
  • War is Terrorism with a Bigger Budget
UPDATE III: Our learned colleague Max B. Sawicky has even more protest signs that AP didn't notice:
  • Homeland security; fighting terrorism since 1942.
  • If you're not for peace I'll kill you
  • John 3:16 -- Bush Sux
  • So many right-wing Christians, so few lions
  • Is your Hummer worth it, Bitches?
  • The best was "Send the twins," not remarkable in and of itself, but it was written in magic marker on a young lady's breasts. Personally I was shocked. Damned if she went by too fast for a picture.

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