We didn't hear much about the demonstrations all over the USA on Saturday. January 27, which I refereed to in y'day's post about Molly Ivins who, in the last column she wrote before she died, made a call, a plead for Americans to take up the challenge and take their country back and make their representatives represent us instead of ruling us.
In this context, the demonstration, the free meeting, the assembly of the people is not only crucial -- it is, along with free speech, prime rights which the Founding Fathers put there for a damn good reason. In an essay the title of which is the title of this post,Thom Hartmann calls it the "Parade of We, the People"
...it's all about the Parade - "We The People." The ultimate question for Americans - one we've been debating since 1787, is: "Do we run our country, or do our politicians?"It was "We, the People" who brought an end to Vietnam adventure -- and it struck fear into the hearts of those who would consider themselves to be our rulers. Since then, we have seen increasing efforts and moves, especially during this present (mis)Administration, to control, regulate, denigrate, trivialize and outright prevent demonstrations. This is done with permits, "free-speech zones", provocation and intimidation.
Since the birth of the bureaucratic monster known as "Homeland Security", increasingly, police departments are in possession of material nearly military in its capability, purpose and use.
One thing is certain, with any demonstration there will be great variation in how many supposedly participate. There is nothing odd in this -- a demonstration is a battle of political wills. An excerpt from Karen Houppert's impressions:
Estimates of the crowd size vary--CNN put it at "tens of thousands" and event organizers insist nearly half a million showed, DC police declined to speculate--one thing is certain: Today's marchers were as satisfied as cats who stole the cream, cats who were almost...celebrating.
John Nicols was more enthusiastic and "on message":
Saturday's antiwar demonstrations, which filled the streets of cities from San Francisco to Washington, marked a return to form for an antiwar movement that had trouble building momentum during the three years that followed Bush's decision to launch a preemptive war against a country that posed no serious threat to the United States or its allies.
Bob Herbert was more sanguine:
By 11:15 I thought there was a chance that the march against the war would be a bust. There just weren't that many people moving toward the stage to join the rally that preceded the march. But the crowd kept building, slowly, steadily. It was a good-natured crowd. Everyone was badmouthing the Bush administration and the war, but everybody seemed to be smiling
Herbert's observations were more in line with my cousin, Nuke Watcher's observation who sent me the following impressions along a few pix he took, which are the pictures shown here:
On Saturday 27JAN07, my youngest daughter (22) my youngest son (9) and I went with best intentions to see the masses at Saturday's War Protest in D.C. This was a much publicized event and the media managed to pass it off as an event with low turn out… Please, allow me to elaborate our findings.
The former Administrations have learned from the events of the 1960's to do the following. Make it an event that requires permits to be in place to make this "Legal" . In the 60's and part of the 70's people showed up 2 days before and simply camped on the "Malls'" lawn.
People then would meet, mingle and start the demonstrations a few days later, numbering in the hundred's of thousands, ending in front of the Whitehouse / Bunker. Saturdays' event was a culmination of the system working with the National Park Service and manipulation of the Fox News / other media sources. The events' permits were from 11AM until 4PM. Starting at the Capitol Building and going North, returning to the Capitol Building.
When we arrived at the Greenbelt Metro Station at noon, which is located off I-495, it was immediately seen, what the Park Service has done to have control. There were 40-50 busloads of protesters / thousands of people jammed and stopped at the Metro Station with no way of getting to the event. You cannot park at the Mall during these events and the other Metro Stations had exactly the same backup of people. When the Media downplayed the event as a small turn out, they did not look at the thousands that could not make it in time for the support that was sorely needed. The anger that people who came as far away as California, Washington State, Maine and Texas was evident.
These dedicated groups of people, finally made the Metro ride down to the Mall, late in the afternoon. Instead of people making a difference in the overall support, they were now just so many tourists from all over.
That according to the local news, reporting on the lack of marchers that organizers had predicted. So, to those who would plan another trip to the Nations Capitol for a supporting event, be warned. The days of the protesters in large numbers, are no more. Maybe, when the Tale of Two Cities has its final scene, we can all join in the crowd who has come to see and hear that sound of the final drum roll and the thud of the guillotines ......Just a thought..