Major anti-war protests
are planned in Washington, DC
tomorrow – hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend. And not just the usual suspects either – families from middle America
, grandmothers, even conservatives
are coming out to voice their opposition to the impending invasion. They’re all over the city tonight, almost indistinguishable from regular tourists.
Pantaliamon and I have been debating whether or not to attend the protests. As much as I agree with leftist politics – especially in this case – I’ve always felt uncomfortable among activists. Fundamentalism – be it religious, political, academic, etc. – and the mindless hive mentality it creates is something I don’t like to associate myself with. And there are no greater fundamentalists than the young people who constitute much of the new radical left. Whenever they come to town to fight to shout down the global economy, they almost always end up on TV frothing at the mouth and spewing a lot of Marxist rhetoric that probably makes little sense to the target middle class audience they're theoretically trying to persuade. They're not unlike the crazed Christian street preachers who scream condemnations from city street corners. Because of the zeal of the core protesters, we were leaning towards not going – Pantaliamon suggested we should just watch it on C-Span.
This evening, my friend Brian and I were heading to my apartment when we heard high-pitched squeals coming from a white mini-van idling in traffic. Three girls – no older than eleven years old – were squeezing their heads out of the van’s side window and shouting excitedly at us.
“Hey!” they called. “Don’t walk away! We’re not crazy! What do you think about the war with Iraq?”
Surprised, it took me a moment to respond. “I’m against it!” I screamed back at them.
They clearly couldn’t hear me over the din of the cars around them. It seemed they thought I was actually in favor of the war.
“No war!” they shouted. “Down with George Bush!”
Brian and I looked at each other and then screamed: “We HATE George Bush!”
I really wanted to shout “Fuck George Bush!” but I didn’t think that would be appropriate given the fact that they were children.
I did, however, make a thumb’s down motion to try to reinforce what I was saying. Apparently, they got that we were allies, because they started squealing in delight. It was almost as if Brian and I were Justin Timberlake and Chris Kirkpatrick of N’Sync – it was like we were pop stars.
“Down with George Bush!” they shouted, grinning. Brian and I joined in.
Around us, the neighborhood yuppies shook their heads with disdain. At that moment, I realized that Pantaliamon and I must be at that protest. It would be a great mistake – an affront to our principles – if we didn’t. And if families with kids are attending, then perhaps the rogue's gallery of anarchists and Trotskyites will be drowned out by all the regular people who hold the mainstream belief that war against Iraq is wrong.