Once again ANSWER, the anti-war coalition, has done its level best to screw things up. They held an anti-Iraq War protest in Washington DC yesterday, attended by "thousands" (they claim 100,000 but the claims of mass-gathering organizers are usually rightfully discounted) and a couple of hundred people were arrested.
There are two basic reasons for mounting a protest march:
You want to put pressure on public officials to change whatever policy or action you're protesting against; and
You want to convince other ordinary people to come out to your next protest, so the larger number of people will put more pressure on those public officials.
Unfortunately, to put pressure on public officials, you've got to have some leverage on them. They have to be vulnerable in some way, say by needing to be re-elected, or by having a conscience that can be reached. Neither of these things are true about the Bush Administration. In fact, their only vulnerability I can think of is that they're prone to disliking messy PR -- and the Administration's current situation in that respect is so very bad that a lousy protest isn't going to do diddley to make it worse.
So, the Bush Administration can't be reached through protesting -- but we knew that because they weren't in any respect affected by the previous protests, including those that were relatively massive. However, there are public officials who could conceivably reached by an anti-war protest: the Democrats.
It's possible that the right kind of protest would put some backbone into the party's relatively weak and unfocused position concerning the war and stiffen their opposition. What kind of protest would be the right kind? One in which the vast majority of the protestors were bourgeois middle-class and working-class people, one in which there were no huge puppets on display, one in which placards and banners were straight-forward and to the point, but politely so. The kind of protest where everyone focused on the issue at hand and didn't go off about their own favorite liberal/left-wing issue.
What we needed was the kind of protest where people don't get arrested because they want to perform a piece of half-baked political theatre like a "die-in" to dramatise their point.
In short, what was needed was a Middle American protest, not the kind of bullshit demonstration that ANSWER has been responsible for in the past.
What this protest did was to underline the cliched prejudice that "anti-war" equates to "half-baked lefty flake", instead of creating a new perception that, at least right now for this war, "anti-war" should mean "concerned everday American." Bush & Cheney don't care one way or the other, but moderate Democrats, who might have been subject to some pressure by the right sort of demonstration, can easily evade it now because ANSWER, once again, fucked up.
But a flawed demonstration is better than not at all, right? No, not really.
The Bush Administration is on the ropes, it's reeling from the pain of a thousand cuts, the last thing we would want to do is to give them some encouragement to believe that perhaps their position is somewhat more tenable than it appears. At this juncture, they don't have the people on their side, all the polls show that, but looking at Saturday's feeble, badly-conceived march, all they could possibly feel is encouraged, because all they saw there were the nutjobs and wackos they expected to see.
They won't bend to pressure, for sure, but 100,000 middle-class Moms and Dads and Aunt Bertha and Uncle Henry politely telling them in person that they're wrong has got to be a bit depressing, even for conscience-free assholes like the Bush Administration, and it's certainly not encouraging in any way.
Way to go, ANSWER. Keep it up, and you'll snatch defeat from the jaws of victory yet.
Update: My previous comments of a similar nature can be found here, here and here, and my friend Roger weighs in here.
Afterthought: I think perhaps a large part of the problem is that people don't think hard enough about what they want to achieve with their actions, and instead focus on what they feel they need to do. The resulting action, therefore, becomes primarily about people feeling good about themselves.
Someone really should ask the organizers and participants a question: Do you want to feel good, or do you want to get something done?"
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
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Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
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