I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Vern attends an anti-war march – a photojournalistic type adventure

Well I told everybody you should go to one of these notinourname anti-war rallies this weekend, but you probaly thought I was just blowing smoke signals up your ass or whatever the saying is in Oklahoma and Texas. So just to show you that ol’ Vern is a man of his convictions, here is the photographical type evidence that I went to the main one they had here in Seattle. The big news here is that this rally was alot of fun and I am going to show all you motherfuckers why you are required to go to and/or organize some more of these.

I am only a novice photojournalist, so my pictures don’t really do it justice, but let’s get to the visuals here people.

This was my best try at capturing the scope of this thing. I mean this was alot of fuckin people. You listen to these people on tv, they explain to you that the only people against this war really are a handful of fringe Democrats and “peaceniks.” Maybe occasionally they’ll mention that UN arms inspectors, hardline republican maniacs from the first Bush administration, Pat Buchanan, pretty much every other country in the world, and even fugitive war criminal Henry Kissinger think this war is a bad, bad idea. But the average americans, according to their polls, most of them are all for it.

Well, here is my crappy picture of some of the people who didn’t get to take part in those polls. Those white blobs are all people, and they continue far beyond the edges of the photo. Not only that but this was just the rally, a couple hours before the march, before everybody had showed up.

So picture these people standing alongside all the people who gathered Saturday, Sunday and Monday in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, Corvallis, Chapell Hill, Santa Fe, Portland, Kickapoo, Westerly, Houston, Greenville, Salt Lake City, Bellingham, Atlanta, Fresno, New Haven, Nashville, Fort Wayne, Eugene, Charlottesville, Kansas City, Anchorage, Minneapolis, Yellow Springs, Denver, Manchester, Visalia, Burlington, Westport… I’m guessing it adds up to, you know, quite a few individuals. I’m not even gonna include all the people who protested in Italy on Saturday. From what I heard the New York and San Francisco events made Seattle look puny, and I’m sure there were other big ones. 20,000 is the figure they have for New York. Seattle was estimated at 5,000 by one network and 10,000 by another.

So the New York one at least dwarfed any protests that happened in the early days of the Vietnam War. I think it’s because of these here computers. Average citizens now have more access to information about what is going on AND they have a much better way to organize. So there’s no excuse not to do this. My friends, we are going to kick these motherfucker’s asses, no two ways about it.

All this going on, and the networks were under the impression that Americans are in favor of this war – you’d think they’d be surprised by the sudden massive, uh, change of opinion, right, and give it a little coverage? Well, my patrol of the cable news channels in the evening yielded zero footage. The only mention I found at all was a scroll that mentioned “thousands” in San Francisco, and nothing else. There was however a fine program about Winona Ryder’s shoplifting trial with experts both pro and con commenting in detail via satellite.

Of course, you’d have to be some kind of conspiracy nut to suggest that maybe the cable news networks were intentionally not covering dissent against their pals, the government. No, I’m sure it was just an almost impossible to imagine amount of ineptitude, just like 9-11 was. The networks just didn’t find out about these events in advance, like hundreds of thousands of attendees did. They just couldn’t scramble any camera crews, everybody was working on this important story of a possible audio tape that might have Osama bin Laden’s voice on it. It was an honest mistake on the part of all of the networks at the same time. Whoops, their bad. Won’t happen next time.

The local news did some coverage, with King 5 being the least sucky of the two I saw. But both made a big deal out of an estimated “almost two dozen” anti-anti-war protesters who apparently were there for a few minutes. I never saw them. I was there for the entire all day event and I only heard two hecklers. Both sounded drunk and were obviously just trying to be outrageous. (They failed to get a rise out of anyone.) Anyway KCPQ13 made these pro-war people the story, and claimed sensationalistically that “things almost got out of hand” between these 20 knuckleheads and the 5,000 (in their version) other people.

(THIS JUST IN: The Seattle Times estimates about 15 of the anti-anti-war protesters, and they were there to protest Jim McDermott for going to Baghdad to see what’s going on with his own eyes. Apparently they prefer politicians who talk out of their ass.)

Anyway enough about those assholes, the point is the people are out there and they’re not on their asses, they’re standing up and saying something, whether you saw it on TV or not. This was a real good experience for me and I recommend it to everybody fed up with The Bullshit.

Not because of the rallies themselves, where they have speeches and singing. I mean those were pretty cool. There was one high profile speaker at the rally before the march and the one after. The pre-march rally had Peggy Thomas, the mother of James Ujaama, an anti-war activist from Seattle who has been accused of conspiring with al Quaeda. Maybe he really did it (honestly it doesn’t sound like it to me) but the point is he was locked up for a month without charges or a lawyer, and even after being charged his mom hasn’t been able to see him and he’s defending himself from dubious anonymous claims detailed on documents that he and his lawyer are not allowed to read while the FBI keeps feeding bogus allegations to the media. So even if this kid really is guilty his mom is a good person to have make a little speech about the USA PATRIOT ACT and how it flushes American ideals down the crapper.

The rally at the end had a speech by Jim McDermott, the representative from Seattle who is a Vietnam vet and is one of the three who went to Iraq for their own peace talks. FINALLY, a Democrat I have some kind of respect for, and he’s from my district!

In case anyone’s keeping track:

“traitor” congressmen who went to Iraq for peace talks – Vietnam vets

Bush and others who want war – mysteriously missing during war service

7,000-10,000 Gulf War Veterans – dead from mysterious diseases

People who “supported the troops” during Gulf War – haven’t really had time to read up on that topic

Anyway it wasn’t the speeches and guitar strumming gals that made this event good. You had to bear with a little of the activist’s lack of purism, where they got 10,000 people together to oppose a war and then they start talking about police brutality. Shit, I’m against police brutality MORE than the next guy but you’re sort of losing focus here. Anyway my point is that the march is the fun part. And despite a few stiffs there are plenty of people on our side with a sense of humor.

And puppets! Come on, you movie geeks like LABYRINTH and shit. Anti-war rallies are the ONLY way you’re gonna get to interact with puppets unless you get famous enough to get on the Muppet Show. And even then Bill O’Reilly’s gonna get a boycott going against you like I heard he’s doing to Snoop Dogg.

I liked the Bush puppet above, he was riding a toy horse and holding a nuclear pistol. To his left is his buddy Sanctions the Skeleton, who I spotted clapping his giant skeleton hands along with one of the pro-peace folk songs some gal performed. There was also a fatcat puppet in a tophat, smoking a cigar, holding a bag of money and a sign that said “War is good for big business.”

This puppet of an Iraqi mother and wounded child wasn’t as funny, in my opinion. But I guess not all puppets are funny. Still, I am in favor of puppets.

To George’s left here is Officer Friendly, who I didn’t get a good enough shot of. He reminds everybody of the good old WTO protests of ’99, except that he has a nametag identifying himself which none of them did that day. This puppet had a pepper spray gun that sprayed water and a loudspeaker that he used to tell everybody to stay orderly.

If you don’t like puppets, maybe you like oversized props? There were children carrying a giant inflatable globe (symbolism). And if you’re more into the Freudian shit there was a giant inflatable missile that apparently was 50 feet long and based on a deadly new nuclear missile they’re developing. And there were undersized props too. One guy had a small sculpture of Bush in a bathtub filled with oil jacking off a missile.

Later on I caught up with this creepy Dick Cheney who had Bush on a leash. Did you know that Cheney supported apartheid and voted against a resolution to free Mandela from prison? That was a long time ago though, he’s learned alot since then and we should all trust him even though what he says sounds fucking insane.

Speaking of insane, my favorite sign showed these two bozos above along with Ashcroft and it said “INSANE CLOWN POSSE.” There was also a good one that had bin Laden’s head on the Uncle Sam body and said “OSAMA WANTS YOU TO GO TO WAR WITH IRAQ” and then listed the reasons why. There was “MAKE PIZZA, NOT WAR.” There was “BUSH IS SMOKING CRACK, DON’T ATTACK IRAQ.” And there was a multiple choice where you could choose “ROCK” or “WAR WITH IRAQ” and that particular signholder had chosen to rock. Another sign everybody seemed to like was the one that showed Bush and it said “FREE PET MONKEY, ANSWERS TO THE NAME SPANKY.”

Anyway, back to the march. It went from Volunteer Park – near Bruce Lee’s grave – to Westlake Center, centerpiece of the WTO beatdowns. It went past two different Chevron stations, so I thought it would be good to get a picture of that. I gotta point out that the nice couple on the left are not protesting refrigerators, their sign said “Violence Begets Violence” on the front.

I haven’t been in a whole lot of marches, so I didn’t know if people were gonna yell shit at us or what. Turned out everywhere we went there were people on balconies and parking garages and in apartment windows, waving peace signs. Bush tried to turn two fingers into a “victory” sign a while back, but I’m pretty sure these people meant peace. There were people on the sidewalks cheering and even at most of the intersections where cars got trapped by us there’d be at least one car honking and waving with smiles on their faces. Nobody really looked pissed, but maybe a little intimidated.

It’s hard to explain how empowering it is to stand in the middle of a group like this. As we went down Pine Street here you could see for blocks ahead and behind you but you couldn’t see where the people ended. I bet those almost-two-dozen-pro-war people almost shit their pants when they saw what was coming. On second thought, I bet they DID shit their pants, and that’s why they all left by the time I got there.

Sorry I missed ya, shitpants.

Here’s several thousand of my buds, just going for a stroll downtown. If you can imagine a hill that goes about five blocks up, well, there were people all the way up the hill, and here I am in the middle. Look at this crowd, do you see any peaceniks? Any hippies? These are regular people. Very few of them are “’60s throwbacks.” I only saw one velvet novelty hat the whole day. Some of them are in their ’60s, some of them were born in the ’80s. This isn’t “peaceniks” whatever they are, this is the majority of americans right here.

When we got to our destination at Westlake Mall here this balcony was completely filled with people. You can’t really see it but there were people in the store windows watching, next to mannequins. And in the middle here you can see a big trailer set up by Purina Cat Chow, which, I’m not 100% sure but I don’t think it was supposed to have anything to do with war in Iraq. It was just promoting a cat food platform of some kind.

So there you have it people. You are not the only one who feels this way. So it’s time to stop being quiet and start yelling at the top of your lungs. You have nothing to be afraid of. This is the beginning of us taking this country back. We got us, we got a good time marching down the street, we got giant puppets. We cannot be stopped and we are gonna have a good time.

BUT, we can’t take a break. Right now is crucial because the pussies in the house are gonna give Bush the power to start a war at the drop of a hat. Our ONLY chance to stop this thing before it completely starts is to whip those senators into shape. CALL AND E-MAIL YOUR SENATORS IMMEDIATELY, letting them know that you will not vote for them if they vote for this resolution. Remind them that if they support this war, they do not truly represent you. TELL THEM TO FUCK OFF, but in such a way that you are not literally using the word fuck, or coming off as hostile in any way. Also tell them that they should support a filibuster. (Robert Byrd might try to start one, but if 60 vote against it he can’t.)

For a while there I was thinking the vote for Gore even though Nader is better contingent was right. It wasn’t Nader that gave Bush the election (it was the Supreme Court) but what they said was right – as much as democrats and republicans are the same, they’re not REALLY the same. We need to do something about these fuckin democrats but jesus, look how disastrous two years of Bush has already been. And he hasn’t even started his Vietnam yet!

So I was actually thinking yeah, the only way to show these bastards is to vote ALL democrats, even though you don’t want to. We need to have some kind of mild opposition to slow down the eroding of everything we hold dear. We have to show them “Look, we voted all the democrats into office, that means we disagree with your policies.”

But now that the Democrats are actually letting Bush do this, I’m not sure I feel that way anymore. I am prepared to lose all hope in our system if this passes the senate.

Please democrats, stop being pussies. And that includes any card carrying democrats who haven’t written their representatives to scold them about this shit.

–Vern

Contact your representatives: http://www.capwiz.com/lwv/dbq/officials/ or http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/ or http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index.cfm or http://www.house.gov/writerep/ or http://www.yourcongress.com/

Tell them to vote NO and to support a filibuster!

P.S. I almost forgot I was gonna recommend this book PERPETUAL WAR FOR PERPETUAL PEACE by Gore Vidal. You may have heard, this Gore Vidal is a smart dude. This is a great fuckin book about 9-11 and the Oklahoma City Bombing, with the main theme being to ask the great forbidden question, why and also why aren’t we supposed to ask why? It includes his excellent essay from the “Vanity fair” magazine about Timothy McVeigh, which explains that McVeigh committed his crime (whatever part he really had in it) as revenge for Waco. The original version was a little longer because it had some interesting tangents about leads that the FBI never bothered to follow in their investigation, but in this shorter form it’s still fascinating. It’s scary to realize that even though this guy was horrible, he had a point. And it’s maybe scarier to consider the way the media won’t let you acknowledge that. (Check out the anecdote about Vidal’s experiences trying to talk about WHY on tv.)

The essay about 9-11 is good too, and right in the middle he includes a chart listing every american military operation since WWII, to give you an idea of why some people in the world might not like us. The list is twenty pages long. According to the back of the book, “The Federation of American Scientists have catalogued nearly two hundred military incursions since 1945 in which the United States has been the aggressor.”

Anyway, this is the best book I’ve read since Ted Rall’s TO AFGHANISTAN AND BACK. And it’s cheap, too.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, October 7th, 2002 at 6:14 pm and is filed under Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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