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Friday, March 28, 2003

Memo to protesters.

When antiwar protesters start to get on the nerves of a Mother Jones editor, some leaders of the protest movement would be wise to listen up. Clara Jeffrey reports on the movement to shut down San Francisco:

The protest lasted 18 hours and cost the city at least $450,000 in police overtime and cleanup. Mayor Willie Brown rightly pointed out that the city, facing deep cuts to education and other vital services, can't afford to police the protests that organizers have promised every single day until the war is over. Protesters bearing signs exhorting President Bush to spend money on teachers, not bombs, would do well to remember that.

Or maybe they're trying to get someone else's attention . . .

But what is shutting down the most liberal anti-war city in the country day after day after day—the stated, if not thus far achieved, goal of the protestors—supposed to accomplish, exactly? . . . San Franciscans need to remember that the rest of the nation reflexively dismisses the Bay Area's politics as that of a self-indulgent and self-congratulatory constituency, stuck in the 60s and out of touch with the rest of the nation. To be successful in their goal of leading the nation toward a better world, local activists need to contradict, not confirm, such impressions.

At the head of the demonstration, the organizers had banners bearing a picture and a quote of Dr. King: "The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today [is] my own government." I was reminded of the marchers in Selma, wearing their Sunday best, dignified in the face of brutality. Their nobility was impossible to dismiss; it shattered the stereotypes that previously allowed people to do so.

Do you want to make an impression on George W. Bush, on middle America, that cannot be dismissed? At the next march, leave the Che T-shirts, the kaffiyehs (unless you actually are Palestinian), the combat boots, the dog collar necklaces, and the cans of spray paint at home.

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 28 March 2003 at 12:47 PM

Previous: In support of an unjust war.
Next: Week one.

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