Sunday, October 29, 2006

What mommy and daddy did during the war…

I’ve been lazy. There’s really no other way to put it. I sat down with myself and asked if I was doing enough to make the world a better place… and I wasn’t. I was moping around, feeling sorry for myself, and not doing anything with all the free time I have. I knew I needed to do more – more protests, more anything!

The first thing I did was sign up for the LA Peace March, which took place yesterday in Hollywood. I got Vicky to sign up, too, though I knew I wasn’t always going to be so lucky. It was good to have her there, though; I hadn't slept Friday night and I was pretty tired. We got on the freeway after our WeightWatchers meeting and made it to Hollywood and Vine by about 11am.

There was obviously something going on there. Crowds of people were flooding both sides of the street, along with crowds of cops. Traffic hadn’t been blocked, yet, so everyone kept to either side of the street.

At a bus station on one corner, tables and booths were set up from a variety of organizations supporting (or so I thought) the event. Vicky and I checked these out, bombarded with buttons and t-shirts, banners to carry, causes we hadn’t heard of, and people, people, people. The diversity of the political left never ceases to amaze. It is the strength of tolerance and, I think, too often ignored.

Eventually, the press of people had us both moving up the street, to a place that wasn’t so crowded. On the way, I met my first communist in twenty years. I thought their breed had died out – I would be proven very wrong. But, hey, I used to be a socialist, too, so I can sympathize. I say “used to be” because one thing I learned yesterday was, like it or not, I’ve experienced some middle-aged creep over to the political right; I’m a lot less liberal than I used to be.

Take, for instance, the lunatic fringe. I said to Vicky, “Politics is perception. We’re going to make a lot less headway with moderate or the right as long as they see us as a bunch of hippies and communists.” But enough of that.

We were handed picket signs to carry through the march, provided by ANSWER. They read US OUT OF IRAQ, a sentiment I had no problem supporting.

And we waited for the march to begin.

As we waited, more and more people started crowding our space. Let’s face it, we were in the middle of a peace march – what else was I expecting? Wide open spaces??? But my claustrophobia started pounding at my skull and saying, “You really need to go. NOW!” No fun. But the monotony of the wait was passed by people watching and all the folks coming by with their causes.

A girl with a very low cut top on and pasties (and no bra!) stopped in front of us and took pictures with some guys. (Their interest was world peace…. SURE! Both the left and right ones!) Vicky moved her sign in front of her face and said, “I don’t want to be in the picture with the boobs.”

I felt like a boob when a guy with a bullhorn stopped in front of me and started speaking to the crowd. Everyone around us was looking and I was acting like, “Yeah, I’m with him.” I didn’t realize he was there to talk veganism and I, the ex-vegetarian, felt like a colossal hypocrite. So, I lowered my sign.

Representatives from a couple “third parties” were there. Stewart Alexander, Peace and Freedom Party’s candidate for Lieutenant Governor of California, walked by us, campaigning and shaking hands. Green Party representatives were there – but I’m already a member. Several Hispanic groups were there, spreading the cause of immigrants rights (those pesky “human rights”).

I would say the worst groups of all were the communists and anarchists, people whose message was that it doesn’t matter who gets elected because everyone’s the same and there’s nothing you can do… except what they tell you to do. Yep, authoritarianism is alive and well on the left as well as the right.

My favorite bunch of loonies, however, had to be the NESARA bunch. These people were even nuttier than the “chem-trail” people. (“Chem-trailers” believe that the contrails left by jet engines are the intentional seeding of the air with chemicals harmful to humanity… with no proof of any kind.) (Of course.) NESARA, the National Economic Security and Reformation Act, folk will tell you that it’s a bill passed by Congress in 2000 that a) removes all elected officials from office, b) declares “peace” in Iraq (funny, considering it was supposed to have been passed years before we went into Iraq), c) zeroes all credit card balances, d) reinstates the gold standard, and e) abolishes income taxes.

… sure.

Listen, I know I say a lot about the political right but I’m not above admitting that there are some loonies on the left. And this is a bad thing because, as I kept pointing out to Vicky, politics is perception. Loonies on the left make the left look loony. One of the weaknesses of diversity is that you’re going to have some loonies. It’s a pickle.

Thankfully, though, we were there for a good cause aside from the loonies. The march began a little late but when it did it was like a wave of humanity. Over a thousand people, from what we could see, moved cheerfully and inevitably down Hollywood Boulevard, chanting slogans of peace. The sun was not being friendly; we were happy whenever we hit some shade. People watched us from windows and balconies. Some waved homemade signs showing support. Some crowds gathered at street corners. And through it all the police, like a motorcade on bicycles, followed alongside. There wasn’t a single problem.

Well, there was one. When we turned down Wilcox Avenue, the sun was hitting us right in the face. Vicky, my pragmatic wife, simply held her sign a little lower and used it as shade. I knew there was a reason why I married her.

The march ended at a rally where we saw a few people speak. (And I got to meet and shake hands with Mike Farrell!) (I’m a MASH geek.) But the weariness from not sleeping, on top of that from the walk and the heat, killed my interest. I was tired and hungry… and Vicky sat down to watch the speakers…

So, I waited.

After a while, she said she might need to find a bathroom. I said, “Let’s go!” and dashed her off. Probably not what she was expecting.

And off we went (eventually) to Cold Stone. (I’m horrible.)

It was an interesting day. Educational, definitely. And it was nice to be a part of it and know that, when my kid asks what we did during the war, I can say more than, “Looked for a job.”

A footnote to this story.

I’m always interested to see how things get handled in the press and I’m never disappointed by their incompetence. This website has a story about it with the headline, “Protesters March on CNN for Pro-War Coverage”.

… not quite.

We were protesters. We did march. We did end up in front of the CNN building and we did hold a rally there.

But Pro-War coverage was the last thing we wanted. I’d say there’s been enough Pro-War coverage. In fact, it’s pretty much all we get!

Ugh. Let’s just hope I don’t find a story saying we were marching for WAR!

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