Monday, January 29, 2007

The Symbolic Gesture

Last Saturday, Danielle and I went to the Anti-Escalation in Iraq protest in downtown Los Angeles, with Cindy Sheehan and Ron Kovic. In the midst of what can best be called a leftist circus with a theme, we marched innumerable blocks all the while chanting and voicing our general displeasure at the Administrations Iraq Policy.

The Ringling Brothers Marx and Engels Circus

Danielle, who posesses a certain wisdom that eludes me, pointed out the banality of protesting at federal buildings on a Saturday. Furthermore, I was a bit turned off by the party atmosphere, and the strange attentionmongering of certain folk. In particular i had to question why Hugo Chavez supporters and Indigenous Mexican dancers were donning their particular gear and adding their cause to the general melee of anti war protestors. Yes, yes, we are all lefties. I UNDERSTAND. But it's like donning cocktail attire for Easter Mass. Yes, it's TECHNICALLY dressing up for church, but wholly inappropriate and somewhat tacky. It gave me pause. Was i just adding to a general lack of dignity in this whole affair? People are dying, surely we need to treat this subject with respect. I tossed the question back and forth in my noodle for a few days, and finally I have come to a happy conclusion.
CIMG0825 The chants of "What Do We Want? Troops Home! When do We want it? Now!" (Surely "NOW!" is a bit unrealistic, isn't it? I mean the have to pack and book a flight) , the marching to an empty federal building with anti war icons leading the parade of demi-freaks, is not for naught. Rather, the image of thousands of people spending their Saturday, yelling about something helps to add urgency and immediacy to the debate. I gave some thought to my previous encouters with protestors. Anti abortion wack-jobs yelling at women who are just getting their annual pap, Indignant College girls "Taking back the night", when their original ownership of "the night" , is debatable. All these instances helped to physicalize an argument which cannot remain indoors. So for all the idiocy and amateur dramatics, it was important that people see a crowd. It is important that we go out there and join the very silly and often very stinky people and lend our voice to the opposition to an unjust war. No matter how silly the people next to you are, and no matter how empty the parade route.

For all the silliness, please take a gander at my Flickr Set

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