Sunday, March 18, 2007

Who's protesting who?

Well, yesterday marked the fourth year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and though that angle wasn't played out in the press to any great extent, it did bring the attendant protest marchers out on a bitterly cold day. I thought the turnout was rather astonishing considering the temperatures but how to read the actual numbers, depends on who you ask.

I'm going to break my general rule and link to Malkin for the Bush loyalist view. For all her other faults, which are legion, she does a really good job of collecting the links for her side of the debate. A time saver if you want to get an overall feel for their little blogburst.

Surprisingly, the pro-war protestors turned out in greater than usual numbers. Unsurprisingly, the wingers are denouncing the low estimates of their turnout in the press and are claiming they outnumbered the peaceniks.

It's somewhat amusing they use the same tactics to make their estimates, that they have previously mocked to dispute the turnout for the other side in previous protests. And they complain loudly the press coverage was skewed by focusing on only angry members of their "civilized" crowd while posting an equally skewed view of the peaceniks on their own blogs. If you only read them you might think those half dozen Radical Gays for Peace were the main event. But in any event the numbers and oddballs on either side are not as interesting to me as the temperment of the protestors.

The allegedly civil Gathering of Eagles apparently weren't so averse to using their talons.
[W]ar protester Susanne Shine of Boone, N.C., found herself in a crowd of counterdemonstrators, and came out in tears, with her sign in shreds. "They ripped up my peace sign," she said, after police escorted her, her husband and two adult daughters from the group. "It was really pretty scary for me."
And this is apparently what passes for a peaceful counterprotest in their eyes.
The vets turned both sides of Constitution into a bitter, charged gantlet for the war protesters. "Jihadists!" some vets screamed. "You're brain-dead!" Others chanted, "Workers World traitors must hang!" -- a reference to the Communist newspaper.
The estimates as always, varied widely, among the participants and the press but it's clear a large number of anti-peace march protestors turned up. "Many were veterans in biker jackets who said they had come to protect the nearby Vietnam Memorial, citing rumors that had circulated among veterans groups that the demonstrators planned to deface it." To my knowledge, no attempt at defacing of momuments occurred but the difference between the motivations behind the pro-peace and the pro-war movement becomes ever more clear.
Crossing the bridge toward the Pentagon, the marchers met another group of about 50 counterdemonstrators by the Arlington Cemetery, one holding a sign that said: “Go to hell traitors. You dishonor our dead on hallowed ground.”
This I've come to see is true no matter whether the protests take place in the cyberspace of Blogtopia or on the streets inside the Beltway. The pro-peace people protest politicians and what they believe is bad policy. The pro-war crowd turns out to protest against their fellow Americans for using their constitutionally given freedom to assemble in peaceful protest. To disagree with a pro-war person and their chosen president is to be marked for abuse and even death by the Bush loyalists. There seems to me to be a huge disconnect between the pro-war rhetoric that we need to support the war because our troops are fighting for our freedom and then seek to deny that freedom to those who hold opposing views to their own.

In short, anti-war protestors promote peace and pro-war proponents preach hate. And if any pro-war warriors think I'm overstating my case, I challenge you to find the instances of pro-peace assaults on your right to protest. Find me the mocking photos of your side on the left wing sites that covered the protest. Find me the signs that say pro-war protestors should die. Unless you can, I suggest you take off those White House issued rose-colored glasses and take a good look at yourselves before you judge others for their beliefs.

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