Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Day at the Marches

I’ve never been the demonstrative type, particularly when it comes to openly public displays like protest marches. I find megaphones quite irritating and obnoxious, for example, but that’s the point, I suppose.

But anyway, there I was in St. Paul as part of a small group of counter-protesters to a much larger anti-war/anti-Bush/anti-Republican demonstration. It was kinda fun; I found myself on a couple U-Tube videos and actually met someone who admitted to (once in a while) reading this blog!

On the whole the Strib article covered it fairly well. The demonstrators were mostly well-behaved, although it might be mostly due to the fact that there were lots of old people on the crowd. There were also a number of younger types (read ‘high school’) who seemed puzzled at any concept that didn’t mesh with the spoon-fed bumper-sticker slogans of the march organizers. Any takers at how much of ‘both sides’ they’re getting at school?

They passed by us very closely, so there was opportunity to ‘reach out’ and shake a few hands, and a few responded positively. More scowled (so few smiles), and others got verbally vicious, which prompted some march managers to step on the curb and try to keep the marchers moving rather than ‘engaging’ us. Some kind folks still stopped and chatted, though. These were mostly the previously mentioned elderly who would make great neighbors and grow wonderful gardens.

Speaking of slogans, they were mostly retreads going back to Vietnam days, as well as the modern nonsensical/non sequitur stuff like “No blood for oil” and “Support bridges not war.” But what happens if the marchers get their wish and pull out of Iraq tomorrow? No clue. How/where better to fight Al Qaeda? No response. SHOULD we fight Jihad? Can’t say. Who are the REAL terrorists? Ah! That one leads us to…

Bush Derangement Syndrome…which was also on display. He’s a “fascist,” of course, and worthy of more vilification than suicide bombers, Osama Bin Laden, or Saddam himself. I myself was tossed multiple times from the ranks of humanity (“You’re not a human being!”). Four letter words were present, but tended to be focused among a few, like this dude who later gave me two F---s and three Sh—s in just one sentence.

Just to have some fun, I tried to engage the arriving protesters in some friendly exchange, just smiling and waving across the street, and I noticed a pattern…the longer the hair, the less likely I was to get a positive response. Most, though, seemed to have no idea with what do to with an ideological opponent that they couldn’t peg as viciously deranged. Minnesota nice’ took a backseat to ‘Minnesota confused.’ I also offered some water to the marchers toward the end of their festivities. Most politely declined, a couple with ‘thank yous’ as well as ‘I’m not taking water from the likes of you’ responses.

At the end of it all we were packing up and I continued my attempts to elicit some sort of friendly response by waiving and saying ‘hi’ to the oil-hating protesters as they made their way back to their multiple vehicles. This time it got me a response of "Hope you enjoy your money!”

Huh?!? What money, we asked?

“The money the Republicans paid you to be here!”

Much laughter. “Sorry, but our grant from George Soros didn’t come through like it did for you guys!”

More blogs comment here, here, here, here and here.

You and Jim are destined for fame now that your classic rendition of "Give Petraeus A Chance" is on YouTube!

Great job on Saturday, and it was a pleasure to meet you.
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