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News ::
The many faces of protesters (english)
03 Apr 2003
Modified: 04 Apr 2003
The article is meant to reverse many of the negative stereotypes Americans have about protesters, and show that these anti-war protesters represent a a diverse and actively thinking population. It also discusses how it's still important to protest, even though war has already started. It is approximately 900 words
The average Joe associates the word "protest" with the words crazy, radicals, hippies, youth, and violence. They think of bra-less, armpit-haired hippie women with names like "Moonshine" and "Soil" or black-dressed youth without any metal-free cartilage left on their body. I could lie to you and scoff that I myself have never carried such stereotyping and judgemental notions, but I won't. There is something inherently intimidating about the entire protest scene. Even growing up in San Francisco, one of the most liberal cities in the country, I've always been a little afraid-- what if I didn't know enough? What if someone spit on me for wearing a Gap button-up? What if someone laughed at my feeble attempt to chant loud enough? The recent anti-war protests across the nation and world have proved my fears unjustified. The participants have been anything but threatening. There are a handful of your "stereotypical" protest-goers whom so many fear, (without reason, I may add) but they are within a group of people so diverse in every way that there is a place for everyone.
In October, my overwhelming sense of dismay with the imposing war plans overpowered my genuine fear of protesting and I hopped onto the Tufts-rented bus for a ten-hour red-eye drive to D.C. It was wonderful, and not once did I feel out of place. I marched among strangers holding a homeade sign that read "The only Bush I trust is my own." I passed by a group of students from Montreal, eight suited white men carrying a "Republicans Agains the War" banner, a hunched old lady taking three steps to each of mine with a knitted peace sign shawl and a sign which read "I'm eighty four and against the war, " and a five year old struggling not to trip over his sign which read, "No biting, kicking, or scratching, and pick flowers for girls." Everyone was welcoming and willing to answer my questions. It gave me hope and courage that the American people would not let this attrocity take place.
Upon arriving back at Tufts, I felt confident we had changed Bush's mind. How could anyone disobey this stretched armed little boy asking for peace? Apparently, the same man who also disobeys the UN, the pope, nearly half of his own citizens, and the majority of the world. Yes, we went to war anyways.
So were all the protests a waste of time? Did Civil Rights come to African-Americans overnight? Protests are a forum to express dissent--most protesters don't expect immediate government response. It's a process and we must be patient. Just because we are at war right now, it doesn't mean that the protests have failed in the least. On the contrary, the sheer number of Americans who expressed their discontent proved to Bush's administration that this won't be an easy mistake to live down afterwards, and to the world, that all Americans aren't pro-war. We have shown that our government isn't representing us (both figuratively and literally, as he didn't justly win the election).
And now that the war has begun, is it still worthwhile to protest? More than ever. I'm not about to start waving an American Flag and supporting Bush just because war is already declared. If I vehemently opposed it before, I even more vehemently oppose it now; it is not only my right, but my duty to express my dissent. And I refuse to be labeled unpatriotic and anti-American for doing so. Taking part in anti-war protests now doesn't mean that I don't support our troops. I support the troops by asking they come home. I attended the peace rally on the Boston Common this past Sunday. Again, I was overwhelmed with the diversity of the marchers--old, young, gays, straights, blacks, whites, asians, middle-easterns, democrats, republicans, anarchists, veterans, socialists, jews, christians, muslims, and buddhists all marching side by side. These anti-war marches aren't just for the "typical" protest crowd. They are for anyone who thinks. Anyone who criticizes, questions, or analyzes has a place in these protests. We may not all have the same sexual orientation, race, politics, or religion, but we all are capable of reason, and despite our various backgrounds, have come to the same conclusion that war is unreasonable. It is now necessary more than ever before to continue voicing our dissent, to prove to the thousands worldwide that this is Bush's war, not America's.
If you are against this war, I urge you to take part in a protest. It may surprise you how different it is than your pre-made stereotypes. They are peaceful, diverse and enlightnening. The energy of so many thousands who aren't simply blindly following the media but are actively questioning motives and forming their own opinions is high-voltage and infectious.
At the end of the Boston march, all the marchers set down their banners, signs, and megaphones and lay down on the street. Boylston was littered with bodies as far as I could see. Near my place on the pavement, there was a small group of yellow-robed monks who softly beat drums and sang lightly. Two veterans stepped over our bodies, solemnly placing daisies on our chests. I'd never felt so at peace. Sprawled in a street amidst thousands of people united against this war, I truly felt proud to be an American.
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welcome to the movement! (english)
03 Apr 2003
hi there! real happy to see you here with all of us.

as you have said, it's a big, diverse world, this whole protest scene, and there is room for everyone (well, everyone who would abide by the advice of that 5-year-old kid). it's important to stand up and be counted when our consciences forbid us to be silently complicitous.

it's also really important to continue to grow within this culture of resistance. there's much more to the movement for 'peace and justice' than simply stopping this one bombing campaign, of course. all the injustices which happen every day, against each and every one of us on the planet, and against the planet itself, is equally despicable and must be opposed when it confronts us.

and it's a simple matter of respect, to accept that others have decided to focus on specific issues which they find particularly disturbing. the 'stereotypical' protesters are often the people in society who burn with the indignation of many injustices, and who without active recognition and support from everyone else, might become overwhelmed by the task of what is, after all, creating a new world. if women decide to leave their pits in the natural unshaven state, then more power to them. if a blue-haired, punk-music-listenin has 12 visible piercings, then we are all better off for the color they bring to the group. it's when we allow ourselves to separate ourselves from, and even subtly hold ourselves over, other different people, who don't pose any sort of threat to us, that we contribute to alienation and desensition to others' pain which is used so well to manipulate society.

so what the hell am i getting at here? i don't really know, except that some of that seemed too dismissive of good people and their quirks to let go without comment. but it's really encouraging to see so many people exhibiting a sense of collective effort and willingness to demonstrate their conscience- i hope it continues until we wake up as a society from the spell of this rotten, selfish and hate-driven system. ok, done.
thoughts of an arrestee (not me) (english)
04 Apr 2003

"Once the troops are already in battle, trying to end
the war before they are killed is the MOST patriotic,
loving, and supportive act possible. It is pure
propaganda and/or willful ignorance to accuse protestors
of not supporting our troops."

LaDawn Haglund, whose partner at the time, a Marine,
was put on alert for transfer to Iraq:

A Report on New York City Protests
http://www.counterpunch.org/haglund04022003.html