Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Why I Didn't March This Time Either

Why I Didn't March This Time Either
[Jerry Brown shared an article in the The Village Voice, "Why I Didn't MarchThis Time" by Nat Hentoff.]

I'm enjoying Jerry's and Nat's reflections on a complex situation.  When asked to post an antiwar sign in my front yard, I passed, and I didn't like the way it felt.  I felt that either I had changed from the guy who protested the Gulf War, or that the reasons for war were different.  Jerry described the change(s) best.  The point really, is that you can't describe it with a yard sign ...or a bumper sticker.  Sound-byte liberalism is no more sastifying than sound-byte hawkishness.  I've found myself seeking discussion.  In my relatively short life, I've been both liberal and conservative in view.  I can say from experience that liberals have more fun--sex, drugs, and the Grateful Dead.  Liberal protests of any sort are almost cookie-cutter produced with drums, glib signs, music, dancing, smiles, love, and warmth...all my friends.  It doesn't matter if it's antiwar, pro-life, pro-gay rights, pro-affirmative action, anti-death penalty, anti-apartheid...They're a great way to see people and catch up. It's almost worth fudging one's pro-anti inclinations just to join the party.  At the party, it's almost always the same people, wearing different buttons..  It feels like Peace and Love, Inc.  But the choreography of produced liberal protests chaffs against my internal skepticism... that maybe it's all just an "event...".... that maybe if it lacked the coolness factor, if it wasn't so fun, if folks didn't see all their friends there, that maybe protesting wouldn't be the "thing to do."  Sometimes, I want to pull random liberal protestors aside and ask "Why are you here?" and hope that I can get a response with more depth than a yard sign.  I guess I shouldn't have such high expectations. I fear that the conservative protestors that I see at pro-gun, pro-war, pro-KKK, anti-hate crime legislation, anti-gay rallies are possibly less likely to provide me with a satisfactory response beyond jingoist hate and greed smattered with red, white, and blue.  But there's definitely no doubt about it: conservative protests are not as cool, the music's worse, the people are uglier, and signs are not nearly as clever.  So if a rally or protest is unable to communicate a satisfactory message that reflects a grappling with complexity, it seems that really just becomes an experience, a spectacle, an orgy of expression, a be-in of kinship, cameraderie, a televised show to fill a hungry news hole, a fellow-feeling with others who are *feeling* something similar--sorta like "We're feeling hungry," but after discussion finding that they are feeling hungry for different things... so afterwards, they agree to fuck instead.



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