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February 15, 2003 8:46 PM   Subscribe

Live from New York "None of our little group were, as one of us put it, 'into the Mumia scene.' But really, most of the people around us today were like us: regular folks, average, thoughtful, middle- and working-class Americans fed up with a war-obsessed government that won't listen to the world or to its own citizens." With pictures of some cool signs that weren't shown on TV ("NY Loves Old Europe," "Draft the Bush Twins"). Any other eyewitness accounts of protests from anywhere in the world today?
posted by Artifice_Eternity (154 comments total)

 
I guess if there's a time to self-link, you opened it up. I posted some photos and observations on my blog / linklog dealie, at wackyneighbor.com. I'd LOVE to see what it looked like "on the ground" in Rome, Berlin, and tout le monde. Please share!
posted by condour75 at 8:51 PM on February 15, 2003


Great link, btw Artifice ... i saw that guy with the Bush mask. How many people did you think were there? CNN is saying 100,000 but I think it was much higher than that. The organizers are saying 400,000 and I'm more likely to believe that, although I'm sure they padded a little.
posted by condour75 at 8:54 PM on February 15, 2003


"...we warmed up at Teddy's with a late brunch and bloody Marys, and talked it all over."

someone who was there could remind me, but the classic protests of the late 60s didn't take a break for french toast and a couple of cocktails, did they?
posted by grabbingsand at 9:03 PM on February 15, 2003


How many people did you think were there?

Don't cause yourselves the grief of asking. Every warblogger, right-wing pundit, and pro-nuke-Iraq-so-I-can-feel-important person with a platform is currently commenting on how many people weren't at demonstrations today. Yes, they are relying on an illogical (and might I add stupid) idea that silence in what venue they choose equates to acceptance or agreement. But its best just not to confuse them with the facts. I don't think most of them would get it anyway.
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:10 PM on February 15, 2003


Here's another link with more pics. And you're right Wulfgar. Also, the coverage in the US is TERRIBLE. The CNN photos are essentially people being tear-gassed, arrested, and wearing silly, borderline offensive costumes, which was not at all representative of the scene in NYC. Well, the silly costumes maybe.
posted by condour75 at 9:18 PM on February 15, 2003


condour75: The NY Times conceded that 400,000 was not an unlikely number. Figuring in the crowd at the rally itself, plus the feeder marches that were supposed to be held around the city, I think 500,000 is not out of the question.

grabbingsand: Yes, bloody Marys! What, all protestors are supposed to wear sackcloth and ashes and eat bread and water for a week before and after? It was fucking COLD out there, my friend -- extremity-numbing, wind-burning cold.

We are not such martyrs for the cause that we're not allowed to warm up with some booze afterwards. I know, it's scandalous -- actually going to a restaurant, in another part of the city, after only four hours on our feet in balmy sub-freezing weather! Drinking the demon alcohol!

Obviously, that means we weren't to be taken seriously, and didn't mean what we said at the protest. Those flaky, sin-loving, hedonistic, treasonous liberals. New York really IS the City of Sin.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:34 PM on February 15, 2003


Well said Wulfgar. I attended the protest in Adelaide, Australia today, and there were many times more people there than even the protesters expected. And yes, once again, don't believe the teeny-tories when they tell you the marchers are just a bunch of commies. There were grandparents there, families, church groups, mullets walking alongside mohawks. I even saw a World War II veteran, wearing his badges but carrying a "NO WAR" banner. I guess he knows better than the chicken-hawks (and draft dodgers like Dubya) what war is really about.

Here's a link to details about protest numbers in Australia - it may not last long, I think the ABC "breaking news" links dissapear. 10,000 people were expected in Adelaide. An estimated 100,000 turned out. In the rain.
posted by Jimbob at 9:37 PM on February 15, 2003


Mine here and ciderwoman's follows thereafter.

Personally saw the following:

Paper mache puppets and guys on stilts: two of the former and one of the latter.

Number of annoying chanters with bullhorns: above ten. Most annoying.

So were couples pushing huge three wheel strollers, wearing enormous backpacks who suddenly stopped dead still and turned sideways when answering their cellphones--in the middle of the march.

Lots of dogs were there, many overwhelmed by the crowd, others just digging it--
People, I loves me some people!. Dogs wearing signs: 4, dogowners thereof carrying signs: 0.

I also saw 2 large groups of Muslims at the center rally.

Lots of gray hair. 3 moussed out punk sputnik haircuts. Tattoos and piercings--surprisingly rare, ditto hair colors not found in nature.

posted by y2karl at 9:46 PM on February 15, 2003


20,000 marched here according to KIRO 7.
posted by y2karl at 9:46 PM on February 15, 2003


The object of the march here was to walk from one end of downtown, the Seattle Center, to the other, the International District fka Chinatown, where red roses of flowers were to be laid on the steps of a large INS detention facility located there, and then have a final rally in the ID. The INS shipped all the detainees to an undisclosed location in Portland, OR, so they wouldn't hear or see the march.

Is that chickenshit or what?
posted by y2karl at 9:54 PM on February 15, 2003


I was at NYC, I made a post on my site. Basically, what everyone and the NY Times said: the 400,000 number is agreeable; and is more than enough to be overwhelming. It's certainly more than what the organizers- and the police- expected. When I was there, at least for the first part of the rally, it wasn't a massive battle or chaotic experience. The police were there mostly to attempt to direct traffic and keep people away from residential blocks. Eventually the streets were just too damn filled with people and the police realized they needed to reorganize and try to hold back a few people, and that's where a few scuffles occured.

It's weird in this circumstance the lack of media coverage; it seems that the U.S. media should have just given in and actually covered it more, seeing as how the major impact the global protest will have is the mood in, for example, France and Germany. The news is already noting that it's going to be at least a little more difficult for Bush to get his end-all be-all resolution now.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:59 PM on February 15, 2003


here are my photos from seattle
http://www.idixon.com/pages/recent01.html
posted by idixon at 10:04 PM on February 15, 2003


I must say that I really resent the notion that people willing to go out into the cold and chant and wave signs are entitled to have their views taken more seriously than those of who prefer not to engage in such antics.

Even were protests worthy of notice above those of who express our political views in other ways, these protests give no one in Washington anything worth listening to ... whether the (to say the least) limited geopolitical analysis ("no blood for oil!") or the obvious partisan rancor against Bush, Bush has nothing to learn, and nothing to gain, from doing anything except proceeding on plan.
posted by MattD at 10:06 PM on February 15, 2003


We got off the train at 53rd and Lex just to be herded uptown for miles. We finally made it over to First Ave at 68th Street -- so in effect, we were marching. We saw one kid getting arrested, for what I'm not sure, and hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters, the vast majority of which I would not have minded inviting to my home-- in other words, friendly people rather than the nutjobs that supposedly attend these things.

When we finally returned home, frozen through & through, we turned on the TV to learn that the march was apparently a terribly violent and nasty affair, with lots of scuffles and arrests. CNN showed people getting teargassed. They gave more time to pissed-off "motorists" angry about the traffic delays than to the speakers or people at the rally. Somehow, that news coverage came from a different New York, or a different planet, than we live in. Go figure.

Here are some pictures.
posted by muckster at 10:14 PM on February 15, 2003


Don't worry, get used to it muckster. The news coverage of the rally in Melbourne on Friday attemtped to find violence wherever possible - the best they could come up with was two guys banging on the side of a bus as it attempted to drive through the crowd. However, Australian news coverage of todays protests, here and around the world, have pretty much given up on trying to push supposed violence and have just focused on the numbers and the speakers.
posted by Jimbob at 10:18 PM on February 15, 2003


I must say that I really resent the notion that people willing to go out into the cold and chant and wave signs are entitled to have their views taken more seriously than those of who prefer to sit on our asses and bitch about the protesters not to engage in such antics.

Antics. Cute word. What your comment just said was: "listen to me as I say nothing, 'cause its unfair to listen to those who say much". Bullshit. You defeat your own point by claiming that Bush won't listen to the protesters anyway. If Bush ain't listening, then what do you resent? The right that these people have to be heard?

I agree that Bush will pay no attention to what was said by the protests today, and that speaks volumes. Do you resent his silent denial as well? I do.
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:19 PM on February 15, 2003


Ah, yes, idixon, the monorail. We all marched from the Center to downtown on Fifth Avenue, under the monorail tracks.

One of the monorail drivers would honk and honk his horn--I didn't even know they had horns!--every time he passed over the march. That was so sweet and always got a cheer from the crowd. I hope he didn't get in trouble.. Nah, now that I think about it: that's Metro Transit, they have a strong union and it takes ultimate seniority to be able to bid for that route. He's safe.
posted by y2karl at 10:25 PM on February 15, 2003


great pix muckster! Yeah, when I looked at the CNN coverage i did a double take. I'm beginning to think AOL/TW needs this war more than the oil folks.

Oh and speaking of jingoism -- February 15th is the day the Maine was sunk, 105 years ago. Hearst, Ted, Rupert -- the more things change...
posted by condour75 at 10:29 PM on February 15, 2003


MattD: I and many others could talk your ear off (metaphorically... more like blog your eyes out?) about what's wrong with the way this war is being conducted. There are many reasons and cases to be made, coming from many places on the political spectrum.

The point of protests like today's is not for each participant to engage in eloquent speechifying. It's to show by sheer force of numbers that many, many people are troubled by what is happening. This was the largest day of anti-war demonstrations in human history. You don't have to agree with it, but if you think it's meaningless that so many people are upset, maybe you're missing something.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:43 PM on February 15, 2003


Wulfar!, I'm very glad that Bush will ignore the protesters, don't get me wrong!

I still feel I can object strongly to the way these protests are commented on as a proxy for a democratic decision making process. That is wrong -- left-wing people tend to protest, right-wing people do not. Counting protesters double-counts the left, and that is not an accurate proxy of the democratic process.

On the other hand, protests which aren't postured as conventions of public opinion, but, rather, are open demonstrations of private interests (like labor union strikes, or ACT UP! in the 80s), are something which I do think should be attended to -- because their existence is an accurate meter of the intensity of the private interest, and no inference of public opinion is drawn.
posted by MattD at 10:44 PM on February 15, 2003


Local news in Dallas reported 5,000. I know that's a lot less than other cities, but it's a lot more than I expected. Everything went peacefully. Even the dozen or so pro-war people were pretty cool (with one exception, but he was taken care of peacefully). Add 10,000 in Austin and 4,000 in Houston, and that makes a bit of a statement in Bush's "home" state.

I also saw a Pearl Harbor survivor in full uniform marching with us. The diversity was great. Even people drinking Starbucks coffee and wearing Gap clothes singing and chanting with the spiky haired anarchists who were talking and laughing and getting along with the people with the "Conservatives against war" sign who were sharing food with the gray haired hippies. It was a great time.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:49 PM on February 15, 2003


I attended the rally in Brisbane today, partly because I wanted to see some whacky weirdos. I was not disappointed, but the wackos where hard to spot - they where drowned in the huge crowd of ordinary people. Families with toddlers. Grandparents. People sticking anti-war slogans to their dog. A few priests. Students. Everybody.
posted by spazzm at 10:53 PM on February 15, 2003


I was at a march on Feb. 2 in Shibuya, Japan. They expected 50, they got 150. Last night I returned for a bigger gathering. There were probably 5000-6000 there, and that was at the small rally. I don't know any numbers on the one that was a few train stops away in Tokyo near the US Embassy.

Anyone interested in a few pictures can check out Feb. 2 and Feb. 15.
posted by ArsncHeart at 10:57 PM on February 15, 2003


A couple of last thoughts (for me, y'all are welcome to keep on!) --

First, I think the media coverage has been bad, but well motivated. They have covered the protests inaccurately, but out of a desire not to let a greater inaccuracy be implied -- that these mass gatherings and the absence of opposing mass gatherings means that the anti-war side is better ideologically or factually or more politically numerous.

Second, Artifice_Eternity, meaningless isn't the right word -- I am profoundly troubled that the "largest day of anti-war demonstrations" would have the preservation of Saddam Hussein's regime as its cause, and that many Americans could play into that logic, when it is American interests, and American lives, which will be jeopardized so long as we have failed to demolish the bastions of anti-Americanism in the Middle East. And I do not care one bit for the constitutional proclivity of the left to protest should be allowed to bolster, in any way, this very, very dangerous mindset.

(On preview, spazzm's comment is exactly what I'm talking about ... magnifying a lot of people from a cross section of demographics into "everybody", with its implications that the protests are universal in character ... when that it is absolutely and utterly unjustified as a rhetorical move.)
posted by MattD at 10:59 PM on February 15, 2003


MattD - if you take anything from this discussion, it's the overwhelming proof that the protests were not full of "left wing" people - they were just full of people, including conservatives, church groups, young and old. So quit your right-wing bitterness, please. If you want to protest something, go ahead and do it. I think you'll find right-wingers don't protest because their views always tend to correspond more closely with that of the government.
posted by Jimbob at 10:59 PM on February 15, 2003


and no inference of public opinion is drawn.

Though I don't necessarily agree with your conclusion, I would wish that many who want to see a "liberation" of Iraq would heed your logic. Claims are being made from all pro-war sectors that we should be paying attention to the numbers of people who aren't protesting as a validation or mandate that there is agreement for an invasion. No such proof of mandate exists.

The very illogic of "with us or against us" that comes from the White House, attempts to justify the thought that not protesting is equal to agreeing. That isn't the case, nor has it ever been the case. The protests aren't a proxy for the democratic process, nor are they being treated as such. Most of the comments here and in other threads have rather dealt with the view that the protests are not being the given the weight that they should, a democratic plea for those in power to consider what the people desire in the face of the American administration's own lust for war in Iraq. Please note that many of the demonstations and comments about them do not come from Americans. The opinions being expressed are world-wide. Whether they constitute a majority or not is inconsequential, for either side, until an election that can alter the decisions of those in power.

If there is agreement on that, then complaining that demonstrations and demonstrators are being given improper and unjust attention is only complaint about the rights people have to object to what they find wrong. Further, I would need some evidence that anyone is taking todays demonstrations as a valid proxy for majority opinion. If we consider media presentation and the wealth of those who claim that not demonstrating equals a contrary opinion to the demonstrators, then it seems rather the reverse; the marginilization of those who voiced their opinion is in the bag, so to speak.
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:06 PM on February 15, 2003


This was the largest day of anti-war demonstrations in human history. You don't have to agree with it, but if you think it's meaningless that so many people are upset, maybe you're missing something.

I concur, just seeing this many people doing anything that isn't sitting around watching something else, is pretty impressive. The march went from Seattle Center to The INS Building in the International District, which is about two miles. It was all people for two miles, solid; people were just starting the march when some groups had already gotten to the end.

I think the Monorail horn-honking stuff started when we were just leaving Seattle Center and we could see into the monorail going overhead and it was filled with people with NO WAR signs, very amusing and spirit-lifting, despite the rain, so we all cheered, the monorail driver honked back, then it became a tradtion, since it goes back and forth every few minutes and we were under it for a while.

I have no idea how many people were there, but compared to WTO it was definitely an uplifting and interesting march, Lots of people creatively expressing displeasure at what has been going on politically. Lots of families, very little traffic disruption and pretty good rapport with the cops. This page and this page have some good pictures.
posted by jessamyn at 11:09 PM on February 15, 2003


In Raleigh, NC, one news outlet's 5pm story set the number of protesters at "several hundred" [self-link]. My fellow marchers and I sat in the living room, stunned. Two of us called to complain; I suggested to the assignment editor that she contact the Raleigh police department. At 5:30, without correction or apology, the crowd had been upped to "several thousand." By the 6pm newscast, it was "police estimate six or seven thousand" (scroll to the bottom here).

None of the stories bothered to give even a rough estimate of the size of the 65-person counter-demonstration, which was nonetheless described by a reporter as "the patriotic counter-protest" across the street - and whose spokesman was given the same amount of time as the one march organizer quoted.

I have a lot of video footage that shows row after row after row of marchers passing a single point. A statistical engineer told me late in the day that he estimated the size of the crowd at around 7500 people. Another person who sectioned off the capitol grounds into quadrants to count put it at 10,000. And yet the first report I saw was "several hundred."

Incompetent biased mainstream journalists rule ok!
posted by mediareport at 11:14 PM on February 15, 2003


My goal in protesting was not the preservation of Saddam's regime. I want to see him disarmed and contained, and wouldn't mind his being ousted per se. And I am not an across-the-board "pacifist:" I supported military action in Afghanistan, because it addressed a true "clear and present danger" to the US. What I object to about the Iraq situation is the way the Bush regime is going about it.

They are destroying alliances and bullying the world in order to go after a petty tinpot dictator who poses no real threat to us. Meanwhile (and as a result of their obsession with Iraq) they are increasing the very real threat of terrorist attack on me as a New Yorker, while letting the Taliban and other warlords retake Afghanistan from under their noses, and massively bungling the North Korea situation (Bush's motto there seems to be "Speak loudly and carry a small stick").

I am a liberal, but also a pragmatist. I know the world is dangerous, and force is sometimes necessary. But the Bush junta is serving our country very poorly with their dangerous incompetence. Dozens of experienced military men and foreign policy officials from past administrations (many of them Republicans) agree.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:16 PM on February 15, 2003


A little here, and follow the links through for more from Paul and from Joi Ito. Woo-HOO!
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:21 PM on February 15, 2003


it is American interests, and American lives, which will be jeopardized so long as we have failed to demolish the bastions of anti-Americanism in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, you just described Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, two countries which Bush insists are our "allies."
posted by homunculus at 11:22 PM on February 15, 2003


mediareport-

A similar thing happened here in San Diego. The major newspaper, the Union Tribune (conservative), reported 1,500 protesters. Once the TV stations started reporting 5-7,000 people in the streets, the newspaper switched it to "thousands". I don't think San Diego (big military town, of course) is used to such large protest. I, for one, was pleasantly surprised.
posted by fillsthepews at 11:26 PM on February 15, 2003


I was there. The police were using ridiculous strong-arm tactics to prevent people from taking part in the protest. It was pretty amazing to experience. And the best sign I saw was being carried by a comely young woman and it read:

THIS BUSH
MAKES LOVE
NOT WAR

And, no, I didn't insist on sending in my "inspector" to verify that information.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 11:26 PM on February 15, 2003


This guy was standing on top of his car's hood with that sign when we went by. He was the first car at the intersection of 2nd and Union, which was blocked, naturally enough. I assumed he drove down early to get a good spot to be blocked by the march. He got a big hand. It was like after a big snow storm or seeing the aurora at night from downtown---people were all talking to strangers and making nice because they all had something in common.
posted by y2karl at 11:27 PM on February 15, 2003


Some of the signs at the Adelaide protest:

Howard, get your head out of Georges bush
Coalition of the willies
War: It's a dick thing

...juvenile, yes, but there's a funny theme going there.'
posted by Jimbob at 11:38 PM on February 15, 2003


I just got back from Sunday's major demonstration in Sydney, Australia. Pictures and some commentary are here. Right now the TV news is putting the crowd at between 250,000 and 500,000. Personally, I just know that there were too damn many. I mean, it was great to see so many folks out there, but the organizers were really unprepared. We couldn't get anywhere near the people making speeches and even the nearest speaker was so far away we couldn't hear anything. Also the police apparently decided on the spur of the moment to change the march route, so those of us expecting to go one way were herded another. There were so many people that the "conclusion" speeches were starting up while folks were still starting the march. It was chaos.

But judging by some of the other comments... it was safe, well-intentioned chaos.
posted by web-goddess at 11:39 PM on February 15, 2003


Photos from the Raleigh, NC protest:
Third one is a nice crowd shot
Good sign shots, including one of my faves
More, including puppet people

More will come over the next few days, I'm sure. There were also reports of 2000 protesters in Asheville.
posted by mediareport at 11:55 PM on February 15, 2003


In Sydney, police estimates 250,000, my estimate around 500,000. Hyde park and all streets in surrounding CDB were completely full of marchers, took my friends & I over an hour to take first steps of march as others were already returning after completing the march.

There was a lot of creativity in attendees signs (some examples):
NO hoWARd
Only morons want war on
Bush Sucker Man
This (photo of Colin Powell holding anthrax vial) might contain Howard's balls
Be Nice
Coalition of the killing
Drop Howard not bombs
Bush & Howard - Dumb & Dumber
Mirror Mirror on the wall who is the biggest terrorist of them all?
Fight Plaque not Iraq
posted by atom71 at 12:04 AM on February 16, 2003


Like others in this thread, I went to the Sydney march. The organisers estimate half a million people turned up; AAP is saying 200,000; and the Channel Nine evening news went with, "In numbers to great to count..." Either way, there were a hell of a lot of people, and from all ages and backgrounds. There were socialist and communist groups, political parties, Christian churches and Muslims, and scores of average Australians who looked as though they belonged at a shopping centre rather than a protest march.

One of the most telling moments for me was when I tried to catch the ferry home to the conservative, upper middle class suburb I live in (despite the fact I am neither), and there were so many people that a second ferry had to be called to accommodate us all. I've never seen that happen before. Whilst people of left-wing persuasions may be more likely to protest in general, that certainly wasn't the case today.

Though the protest was poorly organised, as web-goddess details, it was also very friendly and low-key. I didn't see a single instance of bad behaviour.

The most sobering sight: the line of riot police on horseback beside the American embassy.
posted by Georgina at 12:39 AM on February 16, 2003


MattD-

I'm not against war. I supported the first Gulf War and I also supported the war in Afghanistan. That being said, I'm currently against War in Iraq.

As far as I've seen, nobody has made a case that war is necessary, or even generally beneficial. Perhaps there is a pressing case for war, one which outweighs the expected military and civilian casualties, the expected increase in anti-american attitudes and terrorism and the continuing economic disruption. Perhaps the portion of the intelligence report which explains that Iraq is unlikely to create a danger to other countries is countermanded by a still classified bit that explains that there's a 10% chance that he'll successfully deliver a nuclear weapon to Washington DC.

The fact of the matter is that the American administration has not demonstrated a need for war, but has demonstrated that they're willing to repeatedly lie, exaggerate and mislead the American public, in order to get this war.

How am I supposed to trust the leadership, when the leadership clearly doesn't trust the American public?
posted by mosch at 12:41 AM on February 16, 2003


Even, "In numbers too great to count..." That's what I get for not checking, sorry.
posted by Georgina at 12:43 AM on February 16, 2003


Photos from San Diego
posted by afx114 at 12:45 AM on February 16, 2003


Oh, thanks for that Georgina! We saw the cops on horseback and wondered why they felt it necessary to guard the MLC Centre so closely. I'm embarrassed I don't even know where my own embassy is. :)

I've been pretty disappointed with the media coverage so far. The Sydney Morning Herald's "photo gallery" only has 6 pictures! I took three times that many, waited for public transport, and still had time to post them before the paper. I got home expecting to see coverage on all the stations and instead I got golf, a triathlon, and an interstate cricket match. You'd think half a million people marching through the city would warrant *some* sort of mention before the evening news...
posted by web-goddess at 1:02 AM on February 16, 2003


Current Seattle Times article:

Seattle lent its voice and lots of feet to peace demonstrations around the world yesterday, with thousands of marchers turning out for what might have been the biggest anti-war march in the city's history.

Seattle police put the crowd at around 15,000, but organizer estimates ranged from 25,000 to more than 30,000. That would be well above the 20,000 or so marching at the height of the Vietnam War protests in the late '60s.


That would be well above the 20,000 or so marching... in the late '60s.--I agree. This was by far the biggest march I've attended.
posted by y2karl at 1:13 AM on February 16, 2003


y2karl - I think it was bigger than expected everywhere. In Adelaide, 10,000 people where expected. Most news services are now reporting that 100,000 actually showed up - leading to a diverting of the march route (like in Sydney) to accomodate the extra people. Just to give you some perspective - about 1 million people live in Adelaide. 10% of the population showed up to display their disgust at the upcoming invasion. 1 in ten people. A clear refutation of the myth that only dirty commies and terrorist sympathisers turn up to these things. If 10% of Adelaide citizens are communists, how come the Community Party of Australia only run a candidate in one seat in Adelaide, and get about 0.1% of the vote in that seat?
posted by Jimbob at 1:21 AM on February 16, 2003


re: lack of media coverage; The Mercedes murder is more likely to attract viewers than groups of people who aren't doing all that much. Face it, peaceful protests just ain't 'news'.
posted by mischief at 1:22 AM on February 16, 2003


Oops I'm tired. It should be obvious but...
where = were
Community Pary = Community Party.

posted by Jimbob at 1:23 AM on February 16, 2003


Oops I'm tired. It should be obvious but...
where = were
Community Pary = Communist Party.

posted by Jimbob at 1:23 AM on February 16, 2003


I was in LA and virtually everyone I saw seemed a lot more normal than me. There were a ton of people there, most of them looked average. In fact, it was probably the most normal group of people to walk down Hollywood Blvd. in years.
posted by chaz at 1:27 AM on February 16, 2003


Thanks for the pictures, everyone--it's somehow confirming to recognize signs from NY--yes, it really did happen! (Plus I found some of my pals in condour75's pictures: upper left, pink banner.) I think my favorite signs were "With a Bush and a Dick in the White House, everybody gets fucked," and the ever-popular and nearly irrefutable "Thou Shalt Not Kill." There was also a fantastic representation of Guernica, broken up into six or seven interlocking sections carried by different people.

I had the privilege to march with the Wesleyan samba band, who really became a great force at bringing small groups together and leading them in the street. At one point, a young man was arrested, broke away from the police, and ducked into the middle of the band until he could get out of range. Apart from the arrest of another young man who was encouraging people to move into the streets, protester-police relations were cordial along the route I took. NYC Indymedia's rolling coverage is a pretty good log of arrests and points of conflict for those who are interested.
posted by hippugeek at 1:40 AM on February 16, 2003


I love how the guy in the first link holds a sign saying "THIS WAR IS UNAMERICAN" while on his sleeve there is a tiny German flag.
posted by zerofoks at 3:10 AM on February 16, 2003


British history was made in London yesterday with a turnout out of well over one million, possibly as high as 1.5 million. and it was fecking freezing. Here's to all British mefi'ers who were there yesterday. a very good day.
posted by gravelshoes at 3:38 AM on February 16, 2003


The biggest demonstration in UK history went off without any trouble yesturday. Attendance estimates semm to be settling around the 1,000,000 mark. The BBC's 24 hour news channel was reporting live on demonstrations throughout the day and nearly every news outlet in the UK is leading on the story this morning.

And in Spain 2 million, Italy, 1 million. Highly significant numbers in the three countries whose Prime Ministers have been Bush's staunchest allies.

Oh, and as for the assertion that those against a war are supporting Saddam's regime...well all I can say is that Osama bin Laden can't wait for any kind of destablising conflict in the Middle East so if you support a war in Iraq you support ObL. Or maybe these 'with us or against us'-type arguments are actually a bit stoopid?
posted by i_cola at 3:49 AM on February 16, 2003


Interesting thing about tv coverage: on CNN international, coverage was pretty benign, tied in with coverage of other protests in london and elsewhere, and featured interviews with protesters of different ages and interests explaining why they were there. None of this made it on the US version? CNN International (which has to compete with BBC, for one) traditionally covers things in a more internationally compatible way, it would be interesting to do a straight comparison.
posted by dharmamaya at 4:07 AM on February 16, 2003


It seems boring to me to hear ovfer and over that the media barely covered the events of the protest marches: I saw coverage endlessly on cable news. I noted though that the anti-war on Iraq protests in France mixed in much that was pro-Palestine, as can be seen on the photos posted at Http://Israpundit.blogspot.com Now it may or may not be true that any number of issues are tied together concerning Iraq, but for maximum strength and focused protests it seems to me that the one big central issue ought to be No War rather than this one and that for this or that--dissipates the protest, no?
posted by Postroad at 4:32 AM on February 16, 2003


Incredible pictures everyone! The blogosphere is truly shining this weekend. CNN's coverage in the US is abysmal. Their front page today -- after a day of peaceful protests around the world -- is a picture of a flag burning in Baghdad. The number in New York continues to be misreported as the low figure given by the police comissioner. If anyone comes across pictures taken from the Roosevelt Island skylift dealie, please let me know or post them here -- I'd love to see the extent of the crowd. I was very frustrated to see that Le Monde used the official police figure as well, claiming in fact that it was the organizers' estimate! Yikes.
posted by condour75 at 4:50 AM on February 16, 2003


I was in that 'other new york protest'. I felt like I spent yesterday in a war zone. The police ran horses into crowds, i was walking and an officer ran up behind me, hit me with his scooter and drove off before I could get his badge number. I spent two hours (11AM to 1PM) trapped under scaffolding in an alley with 1000 NYU students. I assumed they wanted to keep us out of an arial shot. They eventually let us out, but it was disorienting and they stood two deep in full riot gear as they marched next to us, due north on 6th Ave. They drove a bus into a crowd at 53rd and 3rd.

I'm glad some of you had peaceful days of protest. I sort of didn't believe it until now. I saw these news reports that, I felt, didn't mention the chaos and the violence, but I'm happy to hear some of you didn't have that experience.
I was never able to make it to the main ralley - I was re-routed all day long.

The best sign I saw was, 'another corporate manager against the war'.
posted by goneill at 5:07 AM on February 16, 2003


Hadn't read anything here on Chicago's protest yet.

It was on the north-west side - in the middle of a large Pakistani neighborhood (to also protest the racial profiling tactics deadline by INS and their upcoming deadline to register). Organizers said they estimated at 7,000 people which is still pretty good considering how friggin' cold it was outside. Nice diversity slice as well and fun to see war vets, soccer moms, college-age agitators and others of all walks of life in attendance.

There was a marching band that was wearing all skeleton costumes. Four people held four huge signs of the heads Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and a fourth I didn't recognize as the Four Horsemen. Other favorite signs were George W. with duct tape on his mouth ('Duct tape this') and a poster of George and Tony Blair kissing.

The protest started on one end of Devon street - poor sound system didn't deliver the addresses effectively. We then marched, being led by some sort of Southeast Asian percussion group (dojo?), about six blocks to another platform where several Muslim community members, a guy from Not In Our Name and a woman who had been part of the inspections (of the citizenry of Iraq). A small peppering of anti-globalization activists, pro-communists and the like as well. But still sort of exciting to see young Pakistani kids in their pyjamas watching from their windows as we all marched by chanting: 'No blood for oil' or 'Who let the bombs out?'

I'm glad I went - I'd never been to any kind of protest event before.
posted by ao4047 at 5:11 AM on February 16, 2003


I saw the bus at 53rd and 3rd at around noon, 12:30. By the time I had gotten there it was completely surrounded by protesters. Marchers were able to get through to second around 60th street, and over to 1st at around 69 - 70th. Then the protest was routed through police barracades, filling 1st avenue for roughly 2 miles.
posted by condour75 at 5:13 AM on February 16, 2003


The NYC protest was very interesting, indeed. Here were my notes:

-any estimate of crowd size you see is wrong. Too many people, over too wide an area, all going in different directions.

-the police and protesters got along rather well.

-the police tactics were extremely aggressive, not at all the "hands off" method predicted here on MeFi. They seemed to attempt to divide and conquer -- roadblocks on every block, sometimes every half block. My group never even got to see the speakers and such (there was such a thing?!?) as we were routed to and fro. I don't think their intentions were evil; they knew as well as the rest of us that if 500,000 people who wanted to march on the UN were allowed to mass, there would have been 500,000 people marching on the UN. So a job well done to them.

-the subway terminal at Shea Stadium ran out of tokens, and all were allowed to ride for free.

-one police officer was tasked with running an unsuccessful one-way barricade all by himself, and since he seemed down on his luck, I offered him some hot chocolate from the shop he was next to, but he politely declined.

-my group of five seemed to be the only five people who got the idea to pay our respects to the remains of the World Trade Center post-protest. A depressing thought, but it was nice to have the place to ourselves.

-if anyone saw a sign that read, "Don't Wrap YOUR WAR In MY FLAG" it was probably held by either me or one of my friends.
posted by Ptrin at 5:51 AM on February 16, 2003


It's starting to work.

Good work, everyone. Let's keep it up and show these powerdrunk assblankets who signs their paycheck.
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:57 AM on February 16, 2003


Thanks for all the first person reports!
Here are 150 pics from 100 protests around the world - including one from McMurdo Station, Antartica. Coverage from Indy Media tallies participation at more than 75 locations, and estimates global participants at more than 11 million.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:07 AM on February 16, 2003


Actually, I'm very loosely pro-war but I went to the protest here in Kingston (Ontario) anyhow, because I've got a tradition of pranking Kingston protests and they gave out free vegetable soup. This time, I went with an American flag with Batman on it and marched in the front waving Batman at people and smiling. It was too cold to get many pictures, but I've got one of the protest (sans Batman, unfortunately). Later, when the police were talking amongst themselves, they said that about two-hundred and fifty people came out, which looked about right to me.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 6:11 AM on February 16, 2003


Second, Artifice_Eternity, meaningless isn't the right word -- I am profoundly troubled that the "largest day of anti-war demonstrations" would have the preservation of Saddam Hussein's regime as its cause, and that many Americans could play into that logic, when it is American interests, and American lives, which will be jeopardized so long as we have failed to demolish the bastions of anti-Americanism in the Middle East. And I do not care one bit for the constitutional proclivity of the left to protest should be allowed to bolster, in any way, this very, very dangerous mindset.

Well, perhaps here is where you just don't get it. One of the leaders of the air war in Vietnam once said in retrospective that bombing in Vietnam was one of the best recruitment campaigns for the Viet Cong because almost every bomb killed someone's brother, mother, or child. No one disagrees that the Hussein regime is as evil as claimed. What is under disagreement is the claim that "demolishing the bastions of anti-Americanism in the Middle East" can be achieved by force and it is quite probable that an invasion of Iraq could destabilize many of our weak "allies" in the region. There is also disagreement that Hussein is a greater threat to American security than Pakastan, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. Third, it is not clear that the current U.S. regime, stocked with relics from Iran-Contra, people with an extended history of funding terrorist regimes in Central America is the right people to go about a program of regime change.

My reading of Ben Ladan's recent speech is that he is already making a place for his ideology in a post-Saddam Iraq by arguing that the fight is against the U.S., not for Saddam's regime.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:21 AM on February 16, 2003


from a sign in NY:

Question: Why are 40 million Americans without health care?



Answer: Bomb Iraq.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 7:49 AM on February 16, 2003


I was in the feeder march that zig-zagged east, west, and north from Union Square up to 57th and Lex, and I gotta tell you, the police presence there was insane, and no one that I've seen has reported on it yet. After what a 15-minute chase, essentially, the cops managed to get our group of about 400-500 or so trapped on a sidewalk on 26th between 5th and 6th Avenues. The coralled us onto a sidewalk underneath a scaffold, barricaded off either end of the street, moved in the cavalry, would not allow any pedestrians (not just protesters) to cross the street, even to leave. We were essentially imprisoned there for almost 2 hours. It was scariest, I thought, when, in addition to the guns they had trained on us, they added video cameras. Lots of them.

I thought they were all little piggies until a friendly cop gave me a smile and a peace symbol, sort of on the fly. It sorta warmed the cockles of my heart to know that the fuzz were really on our side.

Ain't no power like the power of the people. Don't care whether it was 200,000 or 450,000. New York has never been more beautiful.
posted by DenOfSizer at 8:06 AM on February 16, 2003


My favorite sign (from the NYC protest): a beautifully drawn one showing Bush as a busty woman in a negligee with a lusty Cheney standing behind him, ready for action, and the caption BUSH TO DICK: LUBRICATE ME WITH OIL.

The regular cops did seem friendly, occasionally even jovial (a marked contrast with the LAPD swine I remember from the '60s), but the mounted cops were assholes.

This quote from the first link took me aback:

Interestingly enough, service on the L subway line, which we normally take into Manhattan, was disrupted due to massive "track repairs." (Repair work on the L line is often done on weekends, but rarely with the extensive shutdowns we witnessed today.)

The same thing was going on with the N/W that I usually take into Manhattan. I didn't give it a second thought because it's far from unusual, but of course I had no way of knowing it was happening on other lines as well. What a coincidence.
posted by languagehat at 8:08 AM on February 16, 2003


Here is a small entry and gallery from the New York rally.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:24 AM on February 16, 2003


wow. let 11 hours pass and look at all the posts...

but, Artifice_Eternity, you missed my point about the bloodies and the brunches. while his first-person account was interesting and compelling, that one comment on subintsoc's site gives his whole account an air of trendiness. or perhaps like he was attending the protests just to "make the scene" ... just one more thing on a list of daily errands. he even outfits himself like an extra from the touring show of hair.

coffee at deluca, a little protesting in the park, brunch at teddy's, and we should still have time for some shopping in the village, yeah? i mean, tell me i'm not down with the cause, but shouldn't a protest be something into which you put your all, and not just what you do when it fits into your social schedule?
posted by grabbingsand at 8:27 AM on February 16, 2003


This was the largest day of anti-war demonstrations in human history.

And they were in support of keeping one of the more brutal dictators in human history in power. This isn't going to be a pleasant century.
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:29 AM on February 16, 2003


wrong thread midas. move along
posted by gravelshoes at 8:37 AM on February 16, 2003


God willing, the tide is turning.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:44 AM on February 16, 2003


Reading this over kinda depressed me. Instead of thoughtful debate on this rather important topic, we're getting a food fight. From the left and the right.

And they were in support of keeping one of the more brutal dictators in human history in power.

Midas, with all due respect, If Saddam were to get eaten by a pack of dogs tommorrow, I'd probably open a bottle of champagne. And most of people I know of the left-leaning persuasion feel the same. He's a despot, but the worlds fulla despots, we gonna go from country to country fighting all of 'em? And why not?
You know why.

And to those on the left. Don't assume those who disagree are your enemy. When you do you alienate potential allies. Plus quit shoehorning your other causes in there. Just because I'm against the war does not mean I wanna be a militant vegan, an anarchist, or a memeber of the Bulgarian Transgender Warriors For Solar Energy and Low-Fat Living. So get outta my face before I bury you in venison chili and cheap beer.

So let's pull it in a notch and actually think a bit here. This is no time for knee jerks. Lives are at stake.
posted by jonmc at 8:48 AM on February 16, 2003


The more things change, etc. etc.
posted by UKnowForKids at 8:58 AM on February 16, 2003


I sat astounded at the Reuters photo of a protestor carrying a "Peace in Our Time" sign. I have to think it was someone pranking the protest. With grand success.
posted by Yogurt at 9:11 AM on February 16, 2003


I understand your point jonmc, but what amazed me most about yesterdays march (I was at the London one) was the sheer variety of protesters. Sure there were the free Palestine banners and the vegans, but there was no sense of any other cause taking over this march, nor one of forced acceptance of other causes, just different people united by a common objection.

Also interesting to note that, according to todays Observer, by 5 PM police were reporting only three arrests (out of an estmated 1 million march), which considering just how much the English like fighting the police, is nothing short of staggering.
posted by ciderwoman at 9:13 AM on February 16, 2003


Rome- The count varies between 1 million-ish (the police estimate, who admittedly threw up their hands after counting about 650,000 in one piazza) and 3 million (the organizers' count).

Based on the aerial photos and my view from the ground, I am more inclined towards the higher-end count. Neither the the first world annual Gay Pride Parade held during the 2000 Catholic Jubilee (1.5 mill if memory serves correct) nor A.S. Roma's scudetto win in 2001 (1-2 mill, again with the memory thing) inundated Rome to the extent that yesterday's protest did. It was crazy, and I mean that in a crazysexycool sense.

More photos from La Repubblica:
The march
The signs
The faces

And on preview: A lot of the signs I saw, Midas, were variations on a theme of "Anti-war, Anti-Bush, Anti-Saddam" This from a country whose PM's nose is permantently attached to Bush's sphincter. Take that for what it's worth to you, but Anti-war != Pro-dictator (see also Pro-choice != Pro-abortion, other shades of grey.)
posted by romakimmy at 9:14 AM on February 16, 2003


I threw up my photos of the new york rally on a yahoo album. 100,000 is a ridiculous and shameful estimate of the number of people there. Three avenues were shut down for a stretch of two miles. At least the times ran the 400k figure, which I still tend to think is cutting it a little low.

We were being given the run-around by the cops for about a mile of marching up 2nd avenue and trying to get to first -- every cop on every corner was running the "two more blocks and you'll be able to go east" line. By the time we got to 72nd st. (from 51st), we realized we'd never be able to get across, and the police's story was simply a (somewhat effective) ploy to thin out and disperse the crowd. So we turned around and started informing everyone heading uptown that the police were lying, and that there was no point in continuing to march uptown. We tried to get people to turn around and form a mass in the sixties.

I think the police did not take so well to being called liars.

The police in New York were definitely nervous and as a result they got pretty jumpy towards the end of the day. My friend was arrested on 68th and 2nd for standing 1 foot from the curb. Granted, the cops warned him that if he stepped foot onto the street, they would arrest him for disorderly conduct, but as he saw no justification for his not being allowed to cross the avenue (there was no traffic, and the light was green), he stepped off the sidewalk. They then proceeded to drag him across the street in cuffs and throw him in a police SUV. At this point, they were screaming at everyone to get to the sidewalk. As one kid backed up on their advance, he slipped on some ice on the curb and fell on his back. The police evidently interpreted this as a disorderly act, threw cuffs on him, and took the two of them off.

A day that started out uplifting was soured somewhat by the arrest, but no unneccessary violence was used, and if anything it was a harmless arrest that served to make the police look bad. I was shocked by the sheer vastness of people who bothered to march in the truly frigid weather. I think Bush will still get his war, but yesterday seemed to be a victorious battle for public opinion.
posted by pinto at 9:14 AM on February 16, 2003


If I was an al Qeada head, and I controlled some purse strings, I would be using whatever power and money were at my disposal to fund and organize these marches.

Sorry, but your millions of uninformed street party goers do nothing to convince me that there is a vast number of thoughtful people who have examined the evidence exhaustively and come to the conclusion that the US is acting wrongly. Instead, these silly displays remind me of the sheeplike nature of the masses.

See, I don't know what is really going on, and I am willing to admit that. Apparently, millions of people around the world who are just as clueless as I am are ready to march in force and proclaim that the DO know what is happenning.

Sheep.
posted by syzygy at 9:28 AM on February 16, 2003


Plus quit shoehorning your other causes in there. I wanna be a militant vegan, an anarchist, or a memeber of the Bulgarian Transgender Warriors For Solar Energy and Low-Fat Living.

How about taking those received opinion tablets back up the mountain, Charlton--Edward G.'s not a self excusing holier-than-thou do nothing prig and I kind of like his golden calf of what real people look like.

You know what, Mr. TV viewer? It doesn't look like that on the ground in real life. The people I saw, for the 95+% part, looked like average everyday people. Haven't you read any of these comments here? Jesus Christ, you're just another Archie Bunker yelling at his TV after seeing his preconceptions.

So let's pull it in a notch and actually think a bit here.

Starting with yourself, I suggest.
posted by y2karl at 9:31 AM on February 16, 2003


More Signs at the NYC Anti-War Rally.
posted by taratan at 9:47 AM on February 16, 2003


Read again, y2karl. I'm on your side. I'm just speaking from my previous experience. And, I'll thank you not to tell me where my opinons come from, thankyou very much.
posted by jonmc at 10:09 AM on February 16, 2003


How about taking those received opinion tablets back up the mountain, Charlton...You know what, Mr. TV viewer?...Jesus Christ, you're just another Archie Bunker

Exactly the type of rhetoric I was talking about Karl. Are you posting to stop the war or to show me what a swell guy you are and beat your chest? Take a shower I can smell the self-righteousness from here.
posted by jonmc at 10:12 AM on February 16, 2003


not to mention, nice deliberate misquote:

you quoted: "I wanna be a militant vegan, an anarchist, or a memeber of the Bulgarian Transgender Warriors For Solar Energy and Low-Fat Living."

what I said was "Just because I'm against the war does not mean I wanna be a militant vegan,...etc"
posted by jonmc at 10:15 AM on February 16, 2003


Yeah, I had those experiences, too--in college. But there was none of that a militant vegan, an anarchist, or a memeber of the Bulgarian Transgender Warriors For Solar Energy and Low-Fat Living blah blah woof woof yesterday and reading that hoary cliche, no matter how entertainingly written, is irritating before the first cup of coffee.

I can smell the self-righteousness from here.

Upon review--I was suggesting the same of you--obviously--so we're even.
posted by y2karl at 10:18 AM on February 16, 2003


jonmc:

After reading his first comment in this thread, I think it's safe to say that y2karl likes the sound of his own voice.
posted by syzygy at 10:20 AM on February 16, 2003


y2karl: You're way overreacting to jonmc, who is (as he civilly pointed out) on your side. Better you should take your irritation out on syzygy, who calls protest marches "the sheeplike nature of the masses" but seems to think sitting at home rejoicing in cluelessness and letting a war proceed by default is a principled stand.
posted by languagehat at 10:25 AM on February 16, 2003


alright, alright. But look at this, we seem to be on the same side and here we are bitching at eachother. We can't kill eachother Karl, without us who's gonna teach the kids about Frank Hutchison or the Sonics? :)

And truth be told, were it not for illness here, I mighta said what the hell and hit the trail in new york too, but with a pint of SoCo in my jacket pocket cause it's coooold here.

Peace, brother?
posted by jonmc at 10:26 AM on February 16, 2003


Peace, brother?

For you? Always
posted by y2karl at 10:29 AM on February 16, 2003


langauagehat said: seems to think sitting at home rejoicing in cluelessness and letting a war proceed by default is a principled stand.

Marvellous straw man, Mr. Hat. Completely devoid of meaning, a point, any trace of substance.

In the future, I will thank you kindly for allowing me to perform the task of putting words into my own mouth. It appears that you have more than enough trouble thinking of relevant and cogent sound bites to add to the conversation.
posted by syzygy at 10:33 AM on February 16, 2003


O superman...
posted by y2karl at 10:35 AM on February 16, 2003


You gotta love that "trackback" comment, except for that huge typo - the blogger accidentally typed in " 'peace' rallies" in place of "the US government".

It's some sort of Freudian thing, I guess - the reversal of Eros and Thanatos....blame it on the parents.


Syzygy - re: "these silly displays remind me of the sheeplike nature of the masses":

You're right ! - Those bleating hordes of sheeplike protestors looked silly contrasted against the well informed, independantly minded millions of Americans who wisely chose to stay out of the cold and eat snacks on the couch in front of the TV, growing lean and fit as jaguars as they relentlessly channel surfed, ferreting out the real truth on the Iraq crisis from the fantastic range of views on ther subject offered by the Bush Adminstration and the major network news.
posted by troutfishing at 10:41 AM on February 16, 2003


That's right, troutfishing, neither of us have a clue, but you have two feet and a megaphone.

Now i see the error of my ways.
posted by syzygy at 10:45 AM on February 16, 2003


You gotta love that "trackback" comment

Then you click on it and it's another geek armchair general who cites Niven's Law #16 on the first page. Nothing says credibility like giant paper mache puppets quoting a rather mediocre science fiction writer's half-baked platitudes... Niven's Laws... Aiy-yi-yi-yi...
posted by y2karl at 11:12 AM on February 16, 2003


Sorry, but your millions of uninformed street party goers do nothing to convince me that there is a vast number of thoughtful people who have examined the evidence exhaustively and come to the conclusion that the US is acting wrongly. Instead, these silly displays remind me of the sheeplike nature of the masses.

See, I don't know what is really going on, and I am willing to admit that. Apparently, millions of people around the world who are just as clueless as I am are ready to march in force and proclaim that the DO know what is happenning.

Sheep.

Maybe the millions that demonstrated yesterday are as clueless as yourself or myself (as I do not claim to know it all), or maybe they aren't. Maybe my reasons for protesting don't equal those of the fascist leaning gentleman in front of me, the group of teenagers going for the after-concert, or the joint smoking anti-gloablist to the side of me. My voice raised alone might not get the attention of the government, but if millions people together say "Hey, wait just a goldurned minute; we don't like this", for whatever individual reasons, I would certainly hope that the government would pay a bit of attention. Majority opinion or no, clueless opinion or no, if it means that my opinion (or even part thereof) is amplified enough to catch the ear of the government, I will bleet along with the rest of them.

My viewpoint only. YMMV.
posted by romakimmy at 11:14 AM on February 16, 2003


Sheep.

Yeah, everyone with objections to the strategy of fighting Al Qaeda by bombing and occupying Iraq is a sheep. Like the Cato Institute. Or these guys.

Kieran Healy nailed folks like you, syzygy:

==
Many of the commentators most annoyed by the anti-war protests are big fans of the free market in a broad sense. And no wonder. There's lots of good evidence that the disaggregated judgement of lots of people usually makes for better outcomes than some top-down alternative. Many conservatives and libertarians rightly never tire of pointing this out...In fact, one of the chief virtues of this line of thought is that it doesn't assume that people are stupid --- or at least, it suggests they are not as stupid as your typical bureaucrat.

...So, when huge numbers of people turn out against something, at some cost to themselves, in an effort to signal to their State bureaucracy that they really, really don't like what it's doing --- well, you'd think it would give conservatives of a certain stripe some pause. After all, people aren't stupid. And it takes a lot to get them annoyed enough to join a protest march. And the strengths of both democracy and the market are rooted in disaggregated decision-making, right?

But this hasn't been their reaction. Instead, it's made many of them retreat into a more atavistic, essentially pre-modern form of conservativism. The kind that regards the people as ignorant dupes who don't know what's good for them. The kind that's contemptuous of the masses and snickers at their poorly-articulated convictions. The kind that, when faced with popular dissent, assumes that the dissenters must ipso facto not truly be Of The People. The kind, in other words, usually associated with the dogmatic worst of the Left they claim to reject.
==

Snikt. Snikt. Snikt. Someone get a towel; the warbloggers are bleeding all over the carpet.
posted by mediareport at 11:23 AM on February 16, 2003


There is an old bit of political wisdom that every person who writes a letter to their congressman represents a minimum of 10 constituents. What does that say about protesters?

See, I don't know what is really going on, and I am willing to admit that. Apparently, millions of people around the world who are just as clueless as I am are ready to march in force and proclaim that the DO know what is happenning.

I guess the question what qualifes as an informed opinion? Should we just shut up and let the talking heads of the news meia lead?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:32 AM on February 16, 2003


mediareport:

Fascinating suff, if a bit overwrought, but it doesn't peg me quite right. Close, but not quite, in an important way.

I'm more of a nihilist than the atavistic conservatives Kieran Healy describes. While I DO, mostly, "regard the people as ignorant dupes who don't know what's good for them," I count myself upleasantly in that group, and not by any choice of my own.

I am not comfortable with the war, but I am also not comfortable with joining the millions of protesting dupes who are deluded into thinking that they actually have a clue.
posted by syzygy at 11:46 AM on February 16, 2003


Wait, wait... so if you don't have a clue, how do you know they don't have a clue? Would you recognise the clue if you saw it?
posted by transient at 11:48 AM on February 16, 2003


mediareport:

And of course, the relatively marginal participation by marxists is more important than the heavy religious peace movement including Bush's own denomination.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:49 AM on February 16, 2003


Whoa, what mediareport said. And dead on target.
posted by y2karl at 11:50 AM on February 16, 2003


transient:

There is only one clue, and that is that there is no clue.

KirkJobSluder:

Those are important questions. If someone was protesting for a workable solution to them, I might print up a sign and get some fresh air.
posted by syzygy at 11:53 AM on February 16, 2003


I've been reading the stories and viewing the photographs here and elsewhere, and I find them very powerful. The idea that marches and protests don't represent democracy seems strange to me. Look no further than the civil rights marches of Dr. King as an example.

Right on, romakimmy.
posted by Eekacat at 11:55 AM on February 16, 2003


Here's a clue: Peace.
posted by condour75 at 11:56 AM on February 16, 2003


Those are important questions. If someone was protesting for a workable solution to them, I might print up a sign and get some fresh air.

Of course, the only solution accepted as "workable" by the talking heads is regime change made possible by a scorched-earth invasion of Iraq.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:58 AM on February 16, 2003


Some clues:
Life = good.
Killing = bad.
War = killing.
War = bad.

I have no argument that Hussein should be removed, but a war would be the situation that would result in the most death, most of it innocent civilians. That's my clue.
posted by transient at 12:00 PM on February 16, 2003


Kirk: No, I mean that if someone was protesting in support of workable answers to these questions of yours, I might join them:

I guess the question what qualifes as an informed opinion? Should we just shut up and let the talking heads of the news meia lead?

transient:

Trite. I don't even know if Saddam should be removed, and I also don't know if war is the least bloodless solution.
posted by syzygy at 12:06 PM on February 16, 2003


I was in new york yesterday and greatly greatly enjoyed myself, while marching up 3rd avenue from about 49th to 69th and then over to 2nd avenue, up to 71st, and over to 1st, where they were filling a block for the rally. Yes, my friends and I left to get a lunch in a café at that point. We had wanted to march, we had gotten to march, and we were happy. We heard Desmond Tutu on radios of WBAI that people were carrying through the crowd and we yelled out "YES!!", when he asked "Do you want peace?". When he yelled out "I can't hear you!" We cried, "We're on 69th Street!"

By the time we got to the official rally area, it was ridiculously cold, we had been walking around manhattan for four hours already, and didn't relish the idea of being stuck in the penned blocks for another three, without being able to really see or hear much, and needing to go to the bathroom. The crowd control for the rally area was basically the same kind used for New Year's Eve in Times Square -- metal barricades enclosing people in each block, leaving a corridor for intersections and police on the outside.

While we were on 3rd, around 12:30, we asked a guy with a telephoto camera lens how many blocks behind us were full: he counted about eight.

From everything I saw, it was a peaceful day, but people were apprehensive. We knew that we didn't have a permit to march, because that had been all over the news. But we were marching anyway, because there were just too many people. It wouldn't have been safe to stay on the sidewalk. So all day there was this fear, as you heard sirens in the distance, that if the people near you started shouting loudly to the riot helmeted police "the people are the permit" and "whose streets? our streets", that things could get ugly and unpleasant.

The dynamic of doing something officially declared illegal, that you believe is necessary and good (also physically unpreventable) with heavily armed police right there, is just very odd.

They should have given us a real permit, or planned from the beginning to go to Central Park, instead of this winding crowd control through the empty residential streets of the upper east side, with no idea where we were going or when we would get there, and a lingering sense of fear until we did.

Despite all of that, we got our Peace March! New York City streets: for more than just ethnic pride and the yankees.
posted by jann at 12:12 PM on February 16, 2003


I guess one can spend wheels forever wondering if one is "informed enough" or not. At some point, one must make a commitment on the knowledge available.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:19 PM on February 16, 2003


forgot to mention the best signs of the day:

"killer robots invade the white house"

and

"don't mess with mesopotamia".
posted by jann at 12:27 PM on February 16, 2003


I am also not comfortable with joining the millions of protesting dupes who are deluded into thinking that they actually have a clue.

But you can never be informed enough, really, to think you know everything, not in an issue that is as nuanced and fraught with debate as this one. But also, at some point, you need to make a choice for yourself. My choice was to go to the march where I enjoyed myself, was happy where I previously felt more hopeless, and saw some friends and held a banner. So what? Why is that delusional?

I can't choose to send or not send troops into Iraq, but I can choose to let people -- and perhaps my representatives in the government, and people in other governments -- know how I feel about that decision. Making people feel good and feel involved is a tough trick in any situation [much less in February, in these troubled times, in this economic scenario etc.] I thought it was quite an accomplishment.

My favorite sign: Bring Our Boys Back Home
posted by jessamyn at 12:58 PM on February 16, 2003


Even were protests worthy of notice above those of who express our political views in other ways, these protests give no one in Washington anything worth listening to ...

MattD, I disagree. A war in Iraq right now will only take place because it's the Bush legacy war. Americans are now making that clear to the rest of the world. What better way to do it than openly protesting it in the streets? It's not like there's an election soon where we can vote our rogue leadership out of power.
posted by schlaager at 1:02 PM on February 16, 2003


Thanks, y2karl. Have you been looking at what Glenn Reynolds has had to say about the protests? The insulting idiocy goes far beyond what he's written in the past; I'm beginning to think the guy had a psychotic break viewing yesterday's outpouring. It's the only explanation that makes sense for a smart adult to approvingly cite ignorant bile like this:

"Behind the demonstrators' slogans lies the assumption that Arabs should be left alone: they don't mind being brutalised, tortured and murdered by a fascist thug like Saddam. Where they come from, it is the natural order of things."

To which 'The New York Times of the bloggers' adds, "You'd think that they could manage a few hundred folks to march to the Iraqi mission and demand that Saddam step down, at least. And they could -- if they cared."

Is he really suggesting that Desmond Tutu is motivated by racist assumptions that Arabs don't mind being tortured by Saddam? He is! That the head bishop of Bush's own church doesn't care about the Iraqi people and thinks it's "the natural order of things" for them to be murdered? Why yes, of course that's true!

Good Christ. Reynolds is now offering contributions to the Iraq debate as idiotic, insulting and absurd as I've ever seen - and that includes Gulf War I. The desperation of the blog hawks couldn't be more clear.
posted by mediareport at 1:07 PM on February 16, 2003


I don't know what is really going on, and I am willing to admit that

I don't even know if Saddam should be removed, and I also don't know if war is the least bloodless solution.


Like most people who admit to not knowing anything about a topic, you can't seem to shut up about it.

The fact of the matter is, people do have a pretty good idea about what they're protesting over. For instance, they know that war requires considerable justification, and that even after the case for it has been made, they do not feel it has been sufficiently justified. Ergo, protest. They also understand that in a republic, it is the responsibility of the people to make their voices heard. Ergo, protest.

It would be pretty fucking hard to live in this country in this day and age and not have access to information about a subject. You are fairly bombarded with Iraq everywhere you go, in fact. Given that this is the information age, this group of protestors is probably better-informed than any similar movement in history.
posted by Hildago at 1:22 PM on February 16, 2003


If I was an al Qeada head, and I controlled some purse strings, I would be using whatever power and money were at my disposal to fund and organize these marches.

I'd be using whatever power and money at my disposal to fund and organise a US-led war with Iraq. After all, if you're a terrorist recruiter for militant Islam, it's a gift that keeps giving, with so little seed investment.

But keep honing the oh-so-superior weary slacker cynicism, won't you, syzygy? (Sample quote: "'I have a dream...'? Trite.") With any luck, you'll be shoplifting from Saks in a matter of months.
posted by riviera at 1:49 PM on February 16, 2003


Is he really suggesting that Desmond Tutu is motivated by racist assumptions that Arabs don't mind being tortured by Saddam? He is! That the head bishop of Bush's own church doesn't care about the Iraqi people and thinks it's "the natural order of things" for them to be murdered? Why yes, of course that's true!

Part of the skepticism about the war is that the current U.S. regime has a nasty habit of replacing dictators with dictators or supporting dictators for the goal of anti-communism. Again, key foreign policy players in the whitehouse are the same people who funneled money to right-wing terrorists and supported governments with nasty habits of native american repression and making dissidents "dissappear" in Central America.

Furthermore, liberating Kuwait (which only needed to be liberated because the U.S. made no commitments to defend Kuwait even though Saddam made his intentions clear through diplomatic and propaganda channels) was a scorched earth affair that created one of the worst environmental disasters since chernobyl. It is not clear that an invasion which almost always results in a savage toll of civilian and military casualties both deliberately and through forced migration and destruction of the infrastructure is bound to be best for the people of Iraq.

Finally, when even conservative pundits on Fox admit that our allies in the region are living on borrowed time in the face of ultraconservative Islamism, it raises the entire question of if rushing headlong into a land war and occupation in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan not all that strong, and North Korea willing to jump in if they see a strategic or economic advantage is all that good of an idea. The job of nation-building by force in the Middle East just seems like putting on a giant "kick me" sign.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:10 PM on February 16, 2003


Reynolds is now offering contributions to the Iraq debate as idiotic, insulting and absurd as I've ever seen - and that includes Gulf War I. The desperation of the blog hawks couldn't be more clear.

You ain't whistlin' Dixie there--via Kieran Healy, I clicked on Steven Den Beste.

Who has gone from self-important gas bag to potentially dangerous--well, as if anyone could take him seriously--lunatic. Oh, he wants to stick it to the Germans so bad as to make Don Rumsfeld look like Daniel Ellsberg. Whoa, that train's flown off the tracks!

And, boy, guess who made the most model airplanes when he was a kid? Weapons systems, weapons systems, weapons systems, does he ever have the gigantic boner for military technology--way, way bigger than Tom Clancy's.

--And you know, they always work in real life just like in the Clancy novels. As seen on TV!

I suppose I may love the sound of my own voice, syzygy--after all, I'm on MetaFilter: It's in the rules!--but you got me whipped there, boy howdy. No one has ever loved with such depth and passion. Thanks for sharing your contempt for us, O superman.

But you can never be informed enough, really, to think you know everything, not in an issue that is as nuanced and fraught with debate as this one. But also, at some point, you need to make a choice for yourself. My choice was to go to the march where I enjoyed myself, was happy where I previously felt more hopeless, and saw some friends and held a banner. So what? Why is that delusional?

And, as always, Jessamyn injects a whiff of sensibility, ego and testosterone free, which is more than I can do. *sigh*
posted by y2karl at 2:25 PM on February 16, 2003


Around 5 million Spaniards took to the streets all over Spain on Saturday (3 million if you believe the conservative Government lies, I mean estimates) 1.5 million in Madrid, 1.3 million in Barcelona, 500,000 in Valencia, 250,000 in Sevilla, 200,000 in the 7 Canary Islands, 200,000 in the Basque Country and several hundred thousand in varous smaller protests in other cities. All in all over 60 separate protests all over Spain! Amazing, especially since Prime Minister (on-a-one-way- ticket to palookaville) Aznar is Bush's most fervent supporter after bootblack Tony Blair. I myself marched in sunny Tenerife, Spain along with 60,000 compatriots. It was one of the most uplifting experiences of the century for me. Consider this, Spain has a population of about 40 million, with 5 million on the street protesting that is over 12% of the ENTIRE POPULATION OF SPAIN! To understand this fully, imagine 12% of the US protesting at the same time, that would be around 37 million protesters!

Aznar is officially soiling his panties. I wonder if Rumsfeld will now refer to him as a "discredited Prime Minister" as he recently referred to Shroeder after the German government suffered losses in mid-term municipal elections. In May we have the mid-term municipal elections in Spain and Aznar's goverment is in deep trouble.

Strange thing, I have scoured the foreign press looking for references to what was the most populous anti-war protests in all of Europe but Spain doesn´t seem to be important enough to warrant a simple ¡ÓLE! for sending over 12% of the population to the streets in protest against this cynical war and our own "discredited" prime minister.

For all those who marched in the US and around the world

¡SALUD!


sorry the links are only in Spanish!
posted by sic at 3:36 PM on February 16, 2003


ÓLE!
posted by gravelshoes at 3:42 PM on February 16, 2003


So, syzygy, who would you think is well-informed enough to have earned the right to protest? Colin Powell? Dick Cheney? Are they sufficiently clued in enough that if you saw them on First Avenue toting a NO BLOOD FOR OIL sign, it'd register as a valid act?

Look, I'm not entirely unsympathetic. But if there's one thing I've learned as a longtime veteran of various protests and demonstrations, it's that they are by their very nature the opposite of monolithic.

I've had to get used to the notion that, when marching in solidarity with others on issues such as this, opinions will be expressed loudly, strongly, and physically close to me that I do not endorse and would not support. In Saturday's march here in Tokyo, these positions ranged from a profound difference in perspective ("USA Terrorist #1!) to the banal ("We Love Arabs") to various old-line, starchy Marxist groups and their forlorn lockstep chants. I even saw a guy, bless his soul, waving an FAI/CNT flag.

Are these people all as well-informed as I am? Who the fuck can say? Probably some of them are far more knowledgable. Equally doubtless, some are less so. All I know is that each of us arrived on this street out of our own motivations, but that some component of those motivations in each case concerned expressing opposition to a futile and counterproductive war.

The only genuine sheep I saw were the people on the sidelines, gawking with their Seibu shopping bags, lowing with confusion and frustration that the flow of their Saturday night consumption rituals had been derailed for an hour or so.

How dare you, sir.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:56 PM on February 16, 2003


¡Muchas gracias!
posted by sic at 4:09 PM on February 16, 2003


So, syzygy, who would you think is well-informed enough to have earned the right to protest? Colin Powell?

Powell is indeed well-informed, but somehow I suspect he has an agenda:

"Last week Colin Powell made much of the presence in Iraq of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the man he identified as running an al-Qa'ida network from Baghdad. He drew on information from al-Zarqawi's captured deputy, but made no mention of another explosive allegation from the same detainee: that Osama bin Laden's organisation received passports and $1m (£600,000) in cash from a member of the royal family in Qatar. It is well known in US intelligence circles that the CIA director, George Tenet, is angry with the Qatari government's failure to take action. But the Gulf state would be the main US air operations base in any war on Iraq, and Washington does not want to air the inconvenient facts in public."
posted by homunculus at 4:10 PM on February 16, 2003


I'm still trying to figure out how millions of people exercising their First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly is "anti-democratic." Someone want to help me?

syzygy: While I can admire your willingness to not make snap judgments based on erroneous or incomplete data, I have to wonder, then, why you chose to comment on the marches. To call them "sheep"? I guess they can't win, then: if they march they're sheep, and if they don't they're sheep. But before this is all over, you gotta believe in something. I have a feeling that this entire fiasco is gearing up to be a true turning point in world history: will ostensibly democratic nations acknowledge that their power stems from the people they represent, or will this be a transition from republic to empire, in the Roman sense?

As for the nice rhetorical trick that anti-war equals pro-Saddam: riiiiiiiiiight. You just keep telling yourself that, if it makes it easier for you to sleep at night. To use the Leary/Wilson model, the extreme warbloggers have abandoned any pretense of 3rd Circuit rationality and have completely fallen back to 2nd circuit patriotic/territorial howling. "YOU'RE A TRAITOR TO AMERICA." Hookay then. A heavy identification with the state (any large institution, really) short-circuits rational thought, since the self-worth of the individual is contingent upon the state being correct.

Now it's time to see if the tide turns...
posted by solistrato at 4:57 PM on February 16, 2003


OK, I came a little late to this, but our eyewitness accounts (of events in NYC) are here (with photos) and here. What struck me most of all was the police determination NOT to let people join the rally on First Avenue. Call me old-fashioned, but isn't it a violation of people's First-Amendment rights not to let them peaceably assemble to petition for the redress of grievances? It sure felt like it on the streets of New York, where throngs of people were trapped at poice barricades on Second, Third and Lexington Avenues and not permitted access to the space set aside for the rally. I couldn't understand it. After all, it's not like this was some impromtu thing--it was organised well in advance and sanctioned by the city, and they had to know to expect hundreds of thousands of people.

As for "tussling with the police," what I saw was police officers driving their vans and galloping their horses directly into a crowd that they themselves had trapped (at a barricade on 52d and Second) and yelling "Get on the sidewalk!" Which was physically impossible, because the sidewalks had long since overflowed. If movement had been possible--or if the cops had told people where to go instad of simply blocking them--then it might have been possible to confine the crowd to the sidewalks. But it was a bottleneck of the NYPD's own making. Regardless, those who couldn't get on the sidewalk, and had the temerity to point this out to the police, were arrested for their pains. NOT a shining hour for the NYPD.
posted by Raya at 4:57 PM on February 16, 2003


Sounds like there were plenty of arrests in NYC. In London, with over a million protesters, there were only three arrests according to reports.

It says a lot about the respective role of the police here in the UK and in the US to compare the behaviour of the very few uniformed officers along the march route in central London. Their presence was subdued and, if anything, supportive of the marchers. I was reprimanded by an officer for climbing a wall to get a photo of the crowds in front of Downing Street, but it was done in a light-hearted way and there was never any threat of arrest.

If the march had been hijacked by violent elements (as has often happened in this country) it might have turned ugly, but there seemed no danger of this whatsoever. A larger police presence might have had a catalyst effect, and it was probably for this reason that the number of officers was kept down to the low thousands.

Unusually for the UK, there were no mounted police nor riot gear anywhere to be seen, and crowd control consisted of small groups of between two and ten policemen politely asking people not to stray from the designated route. And of course, guns were nowhere to be seen.

For a march report see http://radio.weblogs.com/0109604/ [self-link]
posted by cbrody at 5:22 PM on February 16, 2003


I can't help thinking that if the city had simply allowed the march, instead of trying to manage a march-less rally--where overcrowding is far more to be feared, because people aren't going anywhere, there's no outflow to relieve overcrowding--then things would have gone much more smoothly. I was shocked and frightened by what I saw from the police yesterday. I'm generally speaking the most timid, law-abiding person you could meet, and I was still afraid I'd get arrested, because I couldn't get onto the sidewalk.
posted by Raya at 5:36 PM on February 16, 2003


There will be no march for the victims of Saddam, no protests about the thousands of children that die needlessly every year under his rule, no righteous anger over the torture chambers which if he is left in power, will be left in being.

I rejoice that we live in a country where peaceful protest is a natural part of our democratic process.

But I ask the marchers to understand this.

I do not seek unpopularity as a badge of honour. But sometimes it is the price of leadership. And the cost of conviction.

But as you watch your TV pictures of the march, ponder this:

If there are 500,000 on that march, that is still less than the number of people whose deaths Saddam has been responsible for.

If there are one million, that is still less than the number of people who died in the wars he started.
posted by Mick at 5:51 PM on February 16, 2003


Agreed, Mick.

But how 'bout a little perspective? Kissinger's still running around unchecked, though thankfully these days "consulting" is more lucrative than policymaking.

The world is full of evil men. Saddam is most definitely one; shamefully, some of the others are ours. The planet would be a simpler, happier place to live if all the bad guys were on one side of the fence.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:15 PM on February 16, 2003


That speech by Tony was just asking for stats on the number of people/children killed by sanctions on Iraq.. I'm in favour of the war - more terrorists and easier recruitment camp myself..

Besides, I think most of the marchers were of the 'lets kick Saddam out, but only with the UN - uni/bilateral action is baaad'. I think.

Was going to go to march, but grandad died and didn't want to be in company of lots of people.. Shame, sounded like it was a great experience for all involved (which is a lot). How come the biggest crowds were in Italy and Spain btw? I find that odd.
posted by Mossy at 6:19 PM on February 16, 2003


but, Artifice_Eternity, you missed my point about the bloodies and the brunches. while his first-person account was interesting and compelling, that one comment on subintsoc's site gives his whole account an air of trendiness. or perhaps like he was attending the protests just to "make the scene" ... just one more thing on a list of daily errands. ...

coffee at deluca, a little protesting in the park, brunch at teddy's, and we should still have time for some shopping in the village, yeah? i mean, tell me i'm not down with the cause, but shouldn't a protest be something into which you put your all, and not just what you do when it fits into your social schedule?


grabbingsand: No, I didn't miss your point. You missed mine. I was the author of that account, and you have totally misread and mischaracterized me.

You're making a shallow and false cultural judgement in order to call into question my political views and actions.

As I said, I was out in the sub-freezing wind for four hours. Then, yes, I was very ready for food and drink. I didn't fit the protest into my "social schedule." I didn't get coffee at Deluca, nor go shopping in the Village. I went when the event was scheduled to start -- noon -- and tried for four hours to get to the rally site. We were kept away from teh official site by the police, but marched anyway along the improvised routes available. Eventually -- again, after FOUR HOURS in sub-freezing weather -- I and my companions called it quits.

I realize you can probably go weeks without food or water, nude, in Antarctica, superman that you are. Sorry I lack your fortitude.

What a freaking idiot you and the other whiners like syzygy are. It's like Kieran said -- you can't stomach it when millions of people from all walks of life collectively demonstrate that they disagree with you. So you magically, telepathically judge them all to be uninformed "dupes," or some sort of slacker trendoids who were just out to make the scene. Sorry, but I am neither.

It's pathetic that the best argument you can come up with is that I am an idiot for having brunch and a bloody Mary after protesting. That doesn't discredit me, it discredits you.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 8:54 PM on February 16, 2003


Artifice_Eternity, I'm with you. It was HARD to be out there for that long. We also spent hours trying to get there, eventually made it (when the police briefly opened up 54th St. between 2nd and 1st) and froze our asses off for about 4 hours total before deciding that we were entering the early stages of hypothermia and had to get something hot inside us. Even after we were sitting inside with soup and tea, it took me hours to feel warm (or even feel all my extremities) again.

On another note, I really hope someone is suing the city for infringing the First Amendment rights of what I would estimate was 2/3 of the people who tried to attend yesterday's rally.
posted by Raya at 9:19 PM on February 16, 2003


My pictures from the New York protest will be here presently.
posted by lbergstr at 9:40 PM on February 16, 2003


Ponder this, Mick--North Korea's killed much more of their own than Saddam has of his but we are never going to go through this whole charade with North Korea. We're going to sit down and talk to them and make nice. If we're on the ball.

And while we knock over a sickly weakling that provides little threat to us or its neighbors, a country that didn't fly any airplanes into any American buildings, but which happens to be a country our administration had planned on knocking over long before 9/11 happened.

Now with an invasion for which 9/11 conveniently provides a fig leaf, what if North Korea goes full tilt and bcomes a open declared nuclear state? If North Korea goes openly nuclear, South Korea will go nuclear, Japan will go nuclear. All of East Asia will be de-stabilized and our credibility and any influence we might hope to have there will be forever lost.

And, maybe, following our unilateral go-it-alone precedent in Iraq, China will be able attack Taiwan. And then we'll quite possibly in the middle of a shooting war with a country that definitely can lob several H-Bombs on our soil.

To do this we ignore not just Al Queda but far more dangerous enemies--not only in North Korea but in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as well. Meanwhile Pakistan and North Korea trade nuclear and ballistic missile know how and become even more dangerous to us and the world. Pakistan openly harbors Osama Bin Laden and the upper tiers of al Queda and about this our government does nothing, nothing. Because it can't--they have the Bomb--and because our leaders have a junkie jones for invading countries we can beat up...

It's nice we live in a country where people can think the way to end terrorism is to forget who our real enemies are and reject a couple of hundred years of wisdom and policy and attack first a country that has not attacked us.

And in attempting to do all this, we've alienated the entire world, the world which was totally on our side after September 11th, 2002.

All that good will has been squandered, squandered!

Guess what, Mick? Soon every little Tom, Dick and Harry of a trailer court little piss ant country that doesn't like us will have the A-bomb if they can buy or build one because it's the only thing that will definitely protect them from our belligerent invasion.

How much safer we are making the world!

Think about that, Mick, while preparing your next sermon.

With what little wisdom the world is ruled.
posted by y2karl at 9:43 PM on February 16, 2003


y2karl - "All that good will has been squandered, squandered!" - say not "squandered" but, rather, "consumed" - to feed the new "Pax Americana"........
posted by troutfishing at 9:51 PM on February 16, 2003


"Trackback posts:

When you look at who is behind the US 'peace' rallies you can see that the US government has been hijacked by insect-like aliens who have no allegiance to life on Earth....

more at Core/Dump: opinion, babes and bondage..."
posted by troutfishing at 9:54 PM on February 16, 2003


Did I hear "bloody mary" and "trendiness" in the same clause? I think grabbingsand might be Mr. Burns in disguise.
posted by condour75 at 10:14 PM on February 16, 2003


I do not seek unpopularity as a badge of honour. But sometimes it is the price of leadership. And the cost of conviction.

Yeah, well, for a fact....

Both logic and historical evidence suggest a policy of vigilant containment would work, both now and in the event Iraq acquires a nuclear arsenal. Why? Because the United States and its regional allies are far stronger than Iraq. And because it does not take a genius to figure out what would happen if Iraq tried to use WMD to blackmail its neighbors, expand its territory, or attack another state directly. It only takes a leader who wants to stay alive and who wants to remain in power. Throughout his lengthy and brutal career, Saddam Hussein has repeatedly shown that these two goals are absolutely paramount. That is why deterrence and containment would work.

If the United States is, or soon will be, at war with Iraq, Americans should understand that a compelling strategic rationale is absent. This war would be one the Bush administration chose to fight but did not have to fight. Even if such a war goes well and has positive long-range consequences, it will still have been unnecessary.

And if it goes badly—whether in the form of high U.S. casualties, significant civilian deaths, a heightened risk of terrorism, or increased hatred of the United States in the Arab and Islamic world—then its architects will have even more to answer for.

An Unnecessary War
By John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt
Foreign Policy
posted by y2karl at 12:18 AM on February 17, 2003


left-wing people tend to protest, right-wing people do not

Oh yeah?

I was at the London march but didn't get to Hyde Park because it would have taken me hours and I was bloody freezing. I'm not really cut out to be an activist.

I was totally astounded at the number of people there but also at the good humour and patience. The police didn't have much to do, the march sort of ran itself. Estimates are about 1m but I've heard 1.5m and even 2m quoted. Whatever the numbers, it's the biggest protest EVER in UK history. I think Blair's truly cakking himself. So he should be. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the end of him.
posted by Summer at 2:43 AM on February 17, 2003


There will be no march for the victims of Saddam, no protests about the thousands of children that die needlessly every year under his rule, no righteous anger over the torture chambers which if he is left in power, will be left in being.

I rejoice that we live in a country where peaceful protest is a natural part of our democratic process.

But I ask the marchers to understand this.

I do not seek unpopularity as a badge of honour. But sometimes it is the price of leadership. And the cost of conviction.

But as you watch your TV pictures of the march, ponder this:

If there are 500,000 on that march, that is still less than the number of people whose deaths Saddam has been responsible for.

If there are one million, that is still less than the number of people who died in the wars he started.


Americans! Americans! By virtue of our birth we play a part in doing absolutely nothing but feeling good about our war in order to free a people from persecution! Feel good about it! You are freeing people by feeling nothing on your own. That's how easy democracy is. It just takes care of itself. Once it is implemented, our government does the deed of liberating those who live under other governments.

Shall I invoke Orwell here or keep it silent?
posted by crasspastor at 3:00 AM on February 17, 2003


No, you should invoke Orwell when it comes to Hussein himself, and perhaps Jacques Chirac.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:03 AM on February 17, 2003


Please stop with the trash-talking about Jacques Chirac. Unlike our President, he was elected by a popular majority. Whatever your prejudices may be against the French [and it seems rather churlish, given that they fought for your freedom in 1776], they are upholding the idealsof democracy at least as well as the US is.
posted by Raya at 6:36 AM on February 17, 2003


ParisParamus,

In 1984, Orwell invents a fascist society where the terrified populace is kept in check by mediatic manipulation and endless war. The ruling "Party" as it is refered to has a famous slogan "WAR IS PEACE".

Hussein, doesn´t fit this profile because he has been emasculated, his country is weak and dying after 12 years of UN embargo and thus is incapable of waging war.

Chirac obviously doesn´t fit this profile because he is against the war. Duh.

But what about the Bush administration? They have gone to great lengths to convince the American public that the only way to ensure peace is to wage war.

How can you not see the connection?

Or maybe you just don't want to see it.
posted by sic at 7:36 AM on February 17, 2003


ANYol'ways: more pictures here: Bloggers Against The War!
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:45 AM on February 17, 2003


Artifice_Eternity: Like you and Raya, I needed a drink after standing out there in the cold being harassed by cops all that time. I made my way to Grand Central and had a scotch at the Oyster Bar. Anyone who thinks we're all wimps is welcome to go stand out there in the blizzard for a few hours and ponder their own Spartan nature.

Summer: I'm not sure "right-wing" is the right adjective for those people, though I'm not familiar enough with UK politics to say for sure. There have, of course, been massive right-wing marches in distant but still living memory, but I don't want to Godwinize this thread.
posted by languagehat at 9:59 AM on February 17, 2003


A new power in the streets: The fracturing of the Western alliance over Iraq and the huge antiwar demonstrations around the world this weekend are reminders that there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion.
posted by muckster at 1:42 PM on February 17, 2003


More SF photos up, pre-aggro splinter.
posted by ed at 3:26 PM on February 17, 2003


Paris, considering the current level of brinksmanship involved in the Gulf, I'd say Orwell is quite a fitting analogy ... though my personal choice is for a different story. After all, even if Bush realizes the error of his way, it's unlikely that he'll pull the troops out because he doesn't want to look like a fool.

if I may add one more testament to the NYC protest with a bit of advice: next time, bring bikes, y'all. It's damn hard for the police to corral and blockade you when you can outmaneuver them.
posted by bl1nk at 6:19 PM on February 17, 2003


in the interest of dispelling any crunchy-vegan or trendsetter myths, my post-march meal was 4 deep-fat-fried, blistering hot dogs at New Jersey's own Rutt's Hut. And a cup of java and birch beer.

A scotch and brunch could've worked too though. :)
posted by condour75 at 8:57 PM on February 17, 2003


Technically, the government in 1984 is more like the Soviet government than America's. That's intentional of course, since America doesn't properly have a "Thought Police", all rhetoric about John Ashcroft aside. Perhaps a more accurate dystopia to compare to the state of the West (America itself is not really all that exceptional as a Western nation, despite popular mythology) is Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 10:59 AM on February 18, 2003


I used to think so too, pseudoephedrine, but now I see scare tactics and rallying crys to patriotism, and overt infringements on civil liberties that weren't necessary in Brave New World. Perhaps the TV and prozac weren't enough?

(i own one...)
posted by goneill at 11:20 AM on February 18, 2003


Give it enough time, and it'll go back to normal. My bet at this point is a Democratic president in 2008 who runs on a "Homeland Security" platform, wins a weak mandate as the far left deserts to vote Green, then proceeds to dismantle Bush's security apparatus to win popularity. Then we can all get back to our Georgy Porgy Orgies. The next five years will probably be as unpleasant as the Nixon years were, but not much worse.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 6:12 PM on February 18, 2003


That's pretty optimistic, and even so it's a sad state of affairs.
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:48 PM on February 18, 2003


AN IMMORAL PROTEST
posted by ParisParamus at 3:33 PM on February 19, 2003


Organizers accuse NYPD of misconduct at peace rally

New York Civil Liberties Union seeks Witnesses to Police Misconduct at Rally
posted by Babylonian at 4:59 PM on February 19, 2003


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