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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Nothing New

posted by on April 18 at 21:50 PM

We’re tired of writing it and you’re tired of reading it, but the anti-war movement is just uninspired and tiresome. I hoofed it down to the student walkout/protest/non-conformist convention at Westlake Park to see what the young protesters would be up to. I was, once again, disappointed.

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Just like the “grown-up” anti-war protest I attended a month ago, the walk-out was disorganized, unfocused and totally fucking boring. 300 (and I’m probably being generous) high-school aged protesters filled out just under half of the small concrete park across from Westlake Center.

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Just as the rally started, the PA system went dead. For the next half hour, organizers used bullhorns in a futile attempt to hold the attention of a group of twitchy high schoolers. Half an hour later, the sound came back on.

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The event went through the motions, with guest appearances by speakers ripping the administration for its war on immigrants, Democrats’ weak attempts at troop withdrawal and the importance of getting “the message” out via Rupert Murdoch’s Myspace.

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My disappointment with these events isn’t just some snarky, disaffected-hipster, Stranger-y thing. These events are totally functionless, silly, traffic-snarling wastes of energy. If you really want to hold an impressive rally and take a clear stand against something, pick one, maybe two, issues.

I totally agree with your grievances. This war is fucked. Our government is fucked. The socio-economic disparity in this country is fucked, but a crowd full of kids still dipping their toes in the activist pool, yelling “George Bush can suck it,” only makes your rally look like it’s full of pranksters who just wanted to skip school. I’m sure some of you are very bright and well informed, but the least-informed seem to be the loudest—and they’re making you all look bad.

When the march took off down Pine towards City Hall, I left to get a burrito.

RSS icon Comments

1

Less fighting, more sour cream.

Posted by locals only | April 18, 2007 10:09 PM
2

where else are me and my bullet belt going to go, school? i don't think so!

Posted by punkkid | April 18, 2007 10:19 PM
3

I'm glad people are starting to see the light. These protests are played.

Posted by Gomez | April 18, 2007 10:30 PM
4

Sorry.

Now that Sanjaya is no longer on American Idol, maybe we'll have time.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 18, 2007 11:38 PM
5

jonah when the fuck is your reporting going to rise above snide bullshit? the letter in this week's stranger exposes your willful distortion of interviews, and your response to the letter is weak. your writing on these matrix-wanna bes who put some kind of art installation at seattle center was pure condescension and a total waste of time. this post is pathetic non-reporting, mockumentary journalism. your blog posts are no less functionless than these protests. when you find an effective form of stopping the war machine, would you let us know? cause this whole making fun of high school kids who aren't expressing their opinions online or through electoral politics is OLD.

Posted by wf | April 19, 2007 12:08 AM
6

WF-
I'm glad you like my work.

Posted by Jonah S | April 19, 2007 12:36 AM
7


Well, it's better than the kids out there who have been duped by military recruiters who have told them the war is over. At least these kids care about their future, or at least act like it.

There really aren't any formal political groups for the average young person (High School Democrats are pretty small and mostly focused on party politics, it seems) where one could get good instruction on event planning or whatever.

Perhaps the Young Democrats should consult some event professionals and put together something good.

Posted by well | April 19, 2007 12:51 AM
8

I was vey active before the war (in North Carolina). I attended some of the big protests in D.C.. I was captured on tape screaming against the biblical counter-protesters. I have PTSD. The crux of our dilemma is that we have no literati who will forsake their beloved careers upon truth. To aim to be a Laureate, one must acquiesce to the market/ tenure factors. The lack of general response in mass physicality against the occupation of Iraq, is inextricably tied to the truth-speakers (poets) of the USA's reluctance to stave their careers upon real justice. This is obvious in the mediocrity of their flacid verse. What is this american atmosphere, where even those of silver tongue are deluded into licking the ass of capital? Personally, I defy this stratagem. If there are poets out there in the emerald city, who want to ultra-dimensionalize from the flat placid-- off of the page and the Hugo House reading-- fractal hither thy swerve of verse. Or else, die with all the other mites in a tomb's cubicle.
What happened to Freedom? Poets who are traitors to the artistic ideal deserve to drown in their terrier's menu foods.

Posted by Ryan Smilac | April 19, 2007 1:28 AM
9

This post in some sense shows fairly accurately why it is I plan on leaving this city. I just can no longer stand this - I don't know - willful, prepubescent leftist lethargy that seems to have spread as common as the moss around here. Especially when it comes to events like these, where what matters is the intent. And the intent is to on some level fulfill a democratic responsibility. Here in the Northwest, apparently we have a lot of uncompromising opinions about the war, just... no pot to piss in. So we all come to places like this to sit on the pot and keep pissing.

I do agree with you that the puerile, dropout minority of mallrats yelling "George Bush can suck it" makes everyone look bad. But that's the reality of most of the protests I've been to. But it's not that the crowd lacks solidarity when it comes to issues, just the tactics used when voicing them. And the bigger the outcry (it doesn't sound like it was that big), the more frequently you'll run into disagreements within that voice. It's not a reason to stop, nor does it mean that civil disobedience has been completely emasculated, it's just one of many suggestions toward a solution.

Still, I am getting SO tired of this "I'm over it" quality rampant on this blog. And in such detail. If you're so "over it" then what are you taking pictures of? And why are you posting them here? And who are you expecting to commiserate? And what do you expect will happen when they agree with you?

Posted by Trevor | April 19, 2007 2:49 AM
10

@6 Jonag S, whoever you are, I couldn't agree more.

Thank you for dipping your toes in the activist er... journalist...um, still-should-be Unpaid Intern pool.

Writing these posts only makes Paul Wolfowitz and his puppet Bush's war look like it’s full of pranksters who just wanted to skip school.

Keep up your lackluster NRG.

Posted by Congrats | April 19, 2007 3:38 AM
11

another disillusioned reporter reporting on the "disillusined" youth of today, sacre bleu & ohh the fromage


"Just like the “grown-up” anti-war protest I attended a month ago, the walk-out was disorganized, unfocused and totally fucking boring."


as a reporter for the stranger:
I demand shock, I demand the value of 5 o' clock lead ins with lines like "CLASH At Westlake" or "NOT SINCE WTO"

not substance, not nuance, ehh piffle, and those kids today...(shaking grizzled old fist!!!!)

Posted by dude, no really...dude | April 19, 2007 4:18 AM
12

it just occured to me, after reading the enjoyable and eye-opening report on Harry Partch in Line Out, this is because maybe Mr DeLaurenti is *gasp* a musician and composer himself. (i also like Ms Selling's upbeat fandom with a touch of the right cynicism)

That said, the stranger "news" dept. could follow lead and have actual politicians post about politics. With all the emailing you do while at work (aside from the websurfing, and the drivel you compile for the big tuesday deadline [c'mon the REAL work is done by the newspaper deliverers and page layout designers "Mr Feit, you were justified in being depressed on Corianton Hale's last day" - to paraphase a Morissey lyric 'we hate it when our coworkers move on to more enjoyable environments') so with all the emailing, I'm sure you could contact some council memebers.

Licata, Connely, Chopp, whoever, once a week, every day, the morning 'pick on democrats' theme, the afternoon 'pick on repubs'. It could be a revolution, starting from within. Commenters could directly address the platforms of each individual politician. The persuasive powers you posess i believe could make this happen. the Slog would be more Critically Acclaimed than evr. You could go for broke and change the name to The Strangest!

The lineage of hate speak and real life apathy that you've promoted has had a good run. I thank you. But be innovative. Shake it up. It would be a blessing to never see the names Feit and Barnett in print (pixel) again.

Posted by it just occured to me | April 19, 2007 6:16 AM
13

Good post Jonah; don't let the haters get ya down.

Posted by Matt | April 19, 2007 7:05 AM
14

Protests are for the most part silly and counterproductive. Really do you actually think random speakers and ugly puppets are going to do anything to end the war. DO you think Bush and congress are sitting in the offices thinking "oh my god one more of these protests and we are going to have to shut this war down" All they do is make the anti-war left look ridiculous and piss people off as they try to get home.

"The lack of general response in mass physicality against the occupation of Iraq, is inextricably tied to the truth-speakers (poets) of the USA's reluctance to stave their careers upon real justice."

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the Iraq War has absolutely nothing to do with poets...

Posted by Giffy | April 19, 2007 7:13 AM
15

So you hate goofy unorganized protesters. What's the big news? Easy targets.

This march, rally seemed to have been put together by the Green Party and Socialist Alternative, so what can we expect from those loonies? But, if you do not create your own anti war movement, than the loonies will be more than glad to hijack.

The news is more about why do fat americans stay at home.

This has been written and talked about before you were even a sperm. More writing from the Stranger about useless rallies is boring. Yes, I am sure the speakers were boring-they always are and the picture of the guy with the bullhorn is funny, that guy is fatter than you.

By the way, you dont need that burrito, and you look like you need to be doing some marching.

Posted by Louie | April 19, 2007 7:19 AM
16
I do agree with you that the puerile, dropout minority of mallrats yelling "George Bush can suck it" makes everyone look bad. But that's the reality of most of the protests I've been to.
I guess the question is, what are they accomplishing? Are they really bringing new awareness to people? Are they making a stand in some kind of meaningful way? Because the reason I don't attend protests any more is not apathy... it's that I can do more useful stuff in the same time.

I think in order for protests to be useful, they have got to drop the idea that they must be free-form anarchic happenings. They need to have a point, a purpose, and a structure. Otherwise, it's just a bunch of people wandering around and blocking traffic. If there's no coherent message, the entire point of a protest is lost.

Posted by wench | April 19, 2007 7:23 AM
17

I think that Seattle needs to send some folks to the Midwest Academy



http://midwestacademy.com/

Posted by something else | April 19, 2007 8:23 AM
18

Protests like this are all but useless. That doesn't mean protests can't work, just that this one didn't.

For a protest to work, it needs 2 things: (1) a single charismatic voice with a clear specific message, (2) backed by massive numbers in support. Think of Martin Luther King rallies. Or Ghandi. Or Mandela.

The closest we have to that right now is maybe Cindy Sheehan, and even she is pretty weak. There are other voices of dissent, but none is charismatic and/or popular enough to draw a crowd large enough to give it power. A wimpy speaker (or worse, a whole lineup of wimpy speakers), backed by a small disjointed crowd of disaffected youth (or adults) is an open invitation for mockery.

Posted by SDA in SEA | April 19, 2007 8:34 AM
19

SDA - I totally agree. Where are the leaders? Or is the age of leaders past? (So many having been assassinated) I ask this knowing that I am not that leader.

Posted by Jude Fawley | April 19, 2007 8:45 AM
20

If history teaches us anything, it is that protests are most successful if you dump large amounts of imported tea into the ocean.

Posted by Matt | April 19, 2007 8:46 AM
21

The reason so many protest marches of just about every ilk are so silly is because no one, and I do mean NO ONE in this country is really and truely suffering. The kind of suffering we see in countries where people REALLY fight bad regimes. Here in the US of A NOT ONE of those high school students went back to a refugee camp, or a cardboard box city, or the garbage dump to look for food. When Americans are REALLY suffering, then and only then will we see serious protest marches. Until such time, it's just a nice day at the park. Do I want Americans to suffer? Of course not you Ass, but don't think for a minute that the "regime" has your best interests at heart. They don't. Wise up. Rethink how and to whom you throw your protest energy.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | April 19, 2007 8:51 AM
22

Self-immolation would get some attention! Volunteers?

Posted by Noel Black | April 19, 2007 10:30 AM
23

maybe the stranger should offer a $2000 prize for the best protest float?

if you care as much about war protests as you do about gay pride parades

Posted by wtf | April 19, 2007 10:58 AM
24

Whoever makes the best float, puppet or poster at the rally wins a sandwich.
Seriously, I will buy you a sandwich.

Posted by Jonah S | April 19, 2007 12:56 PM
25

Hey, other trevor. I had someone at the aclu confuse you with me a couple days ago. Mabye add an initial to your posts for clarity?

Posted by TrevorG | April 19, 2007 1:53 PM
26

Students must draw the lessons of history, which demonstrate the futility of protest politics that aim to pressure the political establishment.

The fight for a socialist movement among student youth must begin with the recognition that the problems facing students—including the threat of war and military conscription, rising costs of tuition, the explosion of student debt, the lack of quality jobs—cannot be separated from the crisis of global capitalism. Today, an increasing proportion of workers attend schools or colleges, and an increasing proportion of students work. A movement of students must fight for a socialist political movement of the working class as a whole.

Posted by pjp | April 19, 2007 4:41 PM
27

Maybe the Stranger and its cohorts should actually attempt to organize a protest themselves or take some kind of initiative other than making fun of the protesters. If the system ain't working, then fucking fix it already. Better to ramble and meander around at a protest than bitching about said protest in the Stranger. If one thing is pathetic, then snide commentary about that thing must be that much more pathetic.

Get off your asses and organize if you're not happy with the protests thus far. But then that would be too difficult and require too much personal initiative and responsibility, wouldn't it? Of course. Americans have a serious pathological problem with always blaming someone else for their own failures.

Posted by JMS | April 19, 2007 4:44 PM
28

right on, jonah. i'm an anti-war student who went to that protest, but it was so depressing that i had to go home too. i wish i had gotten a burrito out of it.

Posted by sccc_student | April 19, 2007 11:12 PM
29

Hey Sccc_student:

glad to hear I wasn't the only one. What was it that you found depressing?
The point everyone seemed to miss is that I'd be way happier if I could go to these things and take them seriously. If these rallies can get more focused and have some charismatic speakers, I promise I won't rip on them. Till then...

And if it's any consolation, it wasn't a very good burrito.

Posted by Jonah S | April 20, 2007 2:16 PM

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