Monday, September 17, 2007

D.C. 9/15/07

The speeches went on much longer than we expected. The protesters were getting restless, and started to chant about stopping the speeches, and starting the march. In the end, they actually started the march before the speeches were done. But first, after the vets against the war stood together on the stage and spoke of their opposition to the war, a guy in a white shirt and backpack took over the podium, and began explaining that he wasn't scheduled to speak. Before he could really complete a thought, other than mentioning he was a conservative, he was cut off. At first, the crowd seemed like thy wanted him out of there, but then something interesting happened; after all the talk of exemplifying democracy in action, the protesters started chanting for the organizers to turn the PA back on. They turned on his mic, and another ten seconds later, when he explained how sometimes a war can be fought for a good reason, he was resoundingly booed off the stage. It was a perfect example of democracy in action. He was allowed to make his point, and the masses voted with their voices. One of the vets, hobbling around on crutches, brought the man back up to the podium, and with their arms around each others shoulders, they respectfully agreed to disagree.

But it's not always that easy. Not always that respectful. Once past the White House, and the Treasury building, the barricades were lined with pro-war zealots armed with misspelled signs and right-wing radio slogans, hurling baffling insults. We were told to go live somewhere else if we didn't like it here, even though we were the embodiment of the rights and duties of the proud american citizen. We were called smelly hippies, and commies, which was all about their own ignorant stereotypes. One of our group was told "why don't YOU go over there!?!" Our friend was puzzled by that logic since we were clearly against ANYONE going over there. It's hard to argue with people so willfully blind. I have a line that, when crossed, all I can do is laugh. They crossed that line very quickly. But these clowns are voters, and that's not funny at all.

The Capital Building is quite beautiful, and the scene there was a strange dichotomy of anger and lazing around. The line between people lying down in the protest die-in, and people taking a nap in the lush green grass on a beautiful day, was really hard to find. The very organized arrests were a little strange as well. People would jump over a wall, get cuffed, and get walked up the steps. All kinds of people. A 14 year old girl. An elderly woman (they didn't even cuff her). A few vets got sprayed, and that caused people to start throwing things. I thought the police showed considerable restraint, though maybe I'm just used to the police here in New York. I witnessed a few incidents throughout the day that would have been handled with a much heavier hand by the NYPD.

We walked the mall to the Washington Monument. A tourist couple asked me to take their picture with the Capital building behind them. I wondered what it was like to visit that city only to find protests and mass arrests going on. I guess I could have asked. We finished our time in DC at an Ethiopian restaurant discussing how we don't see any advantage to the Electoral College. I am sunburned and still sore, but so glad I went. Thanks to Sebastian, Natasha, Beckah, Mary, Claudia, and our ringleader, Bill. Sorry all I have to show now are video stills. It may take a while to develop the film.


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