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Monday, March 20, 2006

Kerri Harrop’s Protest Download

Posted by on March 20 at 9:23 AM

Local treasure Kerri Harrop wrote me this weekend to ask why we hadn’t Slogged Saturday’s anti-war protest. I invited her to write it up. Here are Kerri’s thoughts…

I can’t really tell you how many people were in attendance for this weekend’s anti-war rally and march, held on Saturday to protest the three year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. I am terrible at crowd estimates. I can tell you, however, that the excitement I felt upon approaching Federal Building was quickly replaced with a sinking feeling.

As with virtually every political event I’ve attended in the past few years, the crowd in attendance was overwhelmingly middle-aged plus. The gray hairs in North Face jackets far outnumbered the 20- and 30-somethings that I had hoped would be wending their way through the streets of downtown, voicing dissent and tying up traffic.

Recent history has shown us that George Bush and his minions don’t really give a good god damn about public opinion. The local media clearly doesn’t care eitheróSaturday’s rally was merely a blip on the news radar, despite the fact that the march stretched for blocks down 4th Avenue.

I think back to three years ago, when the streets of virtually every major city in the country (and across the world) were filled with citizens opposing the impending debacle that is now the Iraq war.  At that time, there were no casualties to mourn. We had not yet, as a nation, spent billions of dollars to blow up a country and then make pathetic attempts at patching it up. George & co. had not yet been nailed for lying about WMDs.

Now, well over 1,000 days into the “conflict,‚ÄĚ there are untold casualties and egregious offenses to civil liberties taking place here and abroad. And, judging by Saturday’s turnout, not too many folks can be bothered to voice their opposition.

Granted, an anti-war protest is not going to stop the daily atrocities in Iraq. And, yeah, there’s a lot of rhetoric to wade through (not to mention a whole lot of Gore-Tex). The beauty in a protest march lies within the heart of the idea; the idea that we, the people, can mobilize and make a difference.¬†A political rally offers the opportunity to share information and shed light on facts, statistics, and ideas that are otherwise under-represented in today’s climate. The dissemination of information is vital to the success of any cause.¬†Walking away with one new fact, one new resource, or one new point of view is the mark of a successful event. ¬†

And, come on, it’s been THREE FUCKING YEARS.¬†People should be outraged. ¬†

It was good to see a well organized and visible group of college kids from the UW in attendance. The anarchists, as usual, made a decent showing, although their penchant for wearing bandanas to cover their faces seems unnecessary at a peaceful protest. And there were definitely folks under 40 in the streets. Just not enough.

The most subversive action I witnessed on Saturday did not come from the demographic I would expect such action from. The older gentleman pictured below managed to sum up his feelings quite succinctly and with DIY ethics that would make Fugazi proud. march 18.jpg

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Hmmm, yes, the 3rd anniversary protests...scheduled for weekends to ensure maximum news cycle irrelevance...
Fuck You Dick t-shirts to ensure maximum therapeutic catharsis.

Seriously, Kos and a bunch of other blogs have dealth with this issue a lot - I just don't see how mass marches (especially ones on the weekends) are in any way productive to changing opinions on the war.

New tactics, new tactics, new tactics...

how do you fight outrage-fatigue? i think that's what we're dealing with at this point.

seattle is the problem. too yuppie. and its lefties too fucking disorganized and prone to infighting! shit! the international forum on globalization canceled a major event here that would have celebrated the 5th anniversary of the wto protests because local organizers were at each others' throats. the northwest social forum collapsed simultaneously. pathetic!

case in point: the snow coalition's decentralized strategy was a tactical blunder of the highest order. a group of thousands never kept a membership list, dispersed into dozens of chapters not in communicaton with each other, and withered away within months, rudderless, leaving little trace but the few who went to the protest at the federal building last weekend.

meanwhile, portland: smaller population, better organized. here's what the 10,000 strong protest in portland last weekend looked like:

The problem is, the 19-29s and even the 10-20s actually seem to buy the Bush bullshit. And why not? They're suckers for mass media, all being run by large corporations, which have plenty of stake in propping up the party of the right. Kids today don't listen to underground music or read counterculture screeds. Is there even a counterculture for the 12-28 set? If so, I think it's Emo, and that's not terribly useful.

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