Tuesday, January 28, 2003

A long, sometimes funny, and well-worth-the-reading write-up of the DC anti- (and pro-) war rallies. The description of the pro-war rally is especially funny:
My hands were numb because I had kept them out of my pockets for long stretches in a frantic attempt to record for posterity the amazing rhetoric of the MOVE-OUT speakers. Some of the speeches were of a type not seen since Bluto rallied the troops in Animal House. Only this slapstick comedy, this was real. Martin, the corpulent Oreo, gave a typical speech: "Our troops have always been there for us," he said, "from the time of World War I, when our soldiers beat back the fascists in France...." I turned to Paul. "France?" I said. "Fascists? What the fuck is he talking about?" Paul shrugged. "Forget it," he said. "He's on a roll." I turned around. Behind me there was a man in a mesh baseball hat and glasses listening with rapt attention to Martin and brandishing a lovingly hand-drawn sign that read, painfully, "DISARM SADAM." I moved over to him. "You're missing a D," I said. "What?" he said. "'Saddam' is with two Ds," I said. "You're missing a D." He looked down at his sign. "Listen," he said. "I can spell it any ways I want. Faggot."
And one of the non-funny bits:
Back to the size later. The second thing that was striking about this crowd was that, despite the fact that it was comprised of largely middle- to upper-middle class whites, there was no name politician from either major party there to address it. Given that a Pew survey taken this week showed that a majority of Americans (52%) felt that President Bush had not yet made a convincing case that war was necessary, one would have thought that at least some opportunistic politician from the Democratic party would have decided to attach his name to the anti-war effort. But the only politician of any stature at the event was the Reverend Al Sharpton, a doomed candidate for president with too much political baggage to really be an effective champion for anything. Put two and two together and what you get is the amazing realization that this crowd, perhaps the largest to gather in Washington in the last thirty years, has no political representation whatsoever in today's America. Almost certainly representing a vastly larger number of people in the general population, the anti-war crowd has simply been excluded from the process. The 80 nitwits at the MOVE-OUT event could reasonably claim one sympathetic U.S. Senator per demonstrator: the 200,000+ at the A.N.S.W.E.R. event couldn't claim even one between them. The only real clout it could claim was its own physical presence at that particular moment. All of which makes sense, because from the very beginning, the character of this war has been that of a giant end run—an end run around common sense, around international law, around political reality, even around basic human logic. When you've spent half a year getting your head around the idea that a terrorist attack by Islamic fundamentalists somehow necessitates the immediate invasion of an unrelated secular dictatorship, or that opposing an offensive war is somehow evidence that one "hates America " and is a traitor, it isn't hard to see how 250,000 people in this country these days can actually, in real terms, be numerically fewer than 80.


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