Friday, January 21, 2005

We Miss You, Abbie

C-Span carried the protest in Washington yesterday. Those who stood for hours in the cold to represent 49% of America who feel the wrong man took the oath need to have our appreciation. Having said that, I found the lackluster speeches and rather lame chants pretty sad. It was too obvious that everyone was winging it.

Come on folks. This is street theater. If you aren't a professional speaker, swallow your ego and stay away from the microphone. If you want someone to lead a chant, get a musician who at least understands how to follow a beat. These things have to be orchestrated. You knew the Bush administration and the Washington police would carefully choreograph their parts. How about some planned creative civil disobedience? The best they could do was suggest everyone turn their back to the motorcade as it drove by. Yep. Folks were standing on the curb, signs over their heads, peeking over their shoulders. It looked ridiculous.

Maybe I'm just a spoiled old hippie. I'm remembering when Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman appeared in court over thirty years ago. Each day they wore a different costume. Once they showed up dressed as the founding fathers; as the real patriots. Another time they dressed as police officers. They understood the concept of protest as street theater. And some of us still remember them fondly today. Unfortunately, Jerry Rubin sold out and went to work for Wall Street, and Abbie Hoffman went underground.

Or, for those of you who have no respect for hippies, how about the example of James Otis Sargaent Huntington, the founder of the Order of the Holy Cross? He was a big supporter of the unions, and would periodically campaign for particular candidates. He wore a cassock of course, which always got the attention of the media. He didn't lead chants or scream obscenities. He preached. And usually his candidates got elected. That's another example of good street theater.

Since I didn't go to Washington, I suppose I have no room to talk. My experience in New York during the RNC turned me off of the modern version of street demonstrations. Civil disobedience has become a matter of weighing how far we can push the boundaries without getting arrested. Thirty years ago, we made our bail arrangements before going to a demonstration; we expected to get arrested. Being dragged to a paddy wagon is a great photo op; the press can't resist it.

Maybe Vietnam brought out the passion in folks. How many have to die before this current military adventure gets us motivated? Do the marines have to "liberate" Tehran before we get it? That's the plan, folks. And that's not a wild assumption on my part. Listen to Cheney's interview with Imus yesterday. Iran is next on the agenda

I found it rather ironic that Bush used the word "freedom" at least twenty times in his speech. From the LA Times regarding the "detention center" at Gitmo;

...Funds from the antiterrorism budget are being sought for a 200-bed, $25-million maximum-security prison, a state-of-the-art perimeter wall that would cut the need for military police reservists and a $1.7-million psychiatric ward for detainees.

The dual moves toward streamlining and permanence come three years after the first shackled, blindfolded men detained in Afghanistan were flown here Jan. 11, 2002, on suspicion that they supported the masterminds of the Sept. 11 attacks...

...Military commission trials have been put on hold as defense lawyers swarm federal courts to challenge the legal processes devised by the Pentagon to charge and try suspects. And an international human rights debate is underway over President Bush's decision that the Geneva Convention does not apply to prisoners here.

Senior military and intelligence officials concede that many of the 558 "enemy combatants" being held here probably will be released in coming months to allow interrogators to focus on those thought to possess relevant information about the global terror network...
A permanent detention center, which is beyond the reaches of any legal process. I wonder what the government is going to say to the 200 "detainees" they release after keeping them in a cage for over three years? Oops? Never mind? Move along now, you bug me?

In his speech, Bush said, "The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world." I agree. What I want to know is if Gitmo is an example of how he defines freedom?

There's much to protest right now. Big anti-war rallies are planned for March 19, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. We've got a global stage. Let's start choreographing the show.


No comments:

Post a Comment