War Protest, What Is It Good For?

When I arrived at Mockingbird Station for the peace rally organized to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq -- and to protest the George W. Bush presidential library at SMU -- there were police cruisers everywhere. Three helicopters were flying overhead. "Wow, this must be pretty big," I thought. I was picturing throngs of people hoisting signs and chanting slogans, kids riding on fathers' shoulders as they demanded peace from the president. Well, not so much. A couple hundred people walked west toward SMU and gathered near the stadium, behind the Le Madeleine on Mockingbird.

I'd arrived too late for most of the speeches, but KTVT-Channel 11 reported that one of the organizers condemned the library, yelling through a bullhorn, "We say no to this library! We say to George Bush that this is not your home town! You are not even a real Texan!" Surprise, the sentiment was greeted by applause. Across the street, a small group of counterprotestors held "Bush-Cheney" signs.

It was, more or less, like a spring-break shindig: There was live reggae, dancing hippies, some families, a fairly large number of African-American and Latino folks and some preppy white SMU kids sprinkled throughout the crowd. The one sign that caught my eye, one I hadn't seen at other protests, was a banner that read, "Iranians for Peace."

As the Dallas protestors sang their songs and held their signs, thousands of others were doing the same across the country and globe. But, seriously. What does it mean that four years after our troops invaded Iraq, after 3,200 Americans and at least 50,000 Iraqis have been killed, on a day when Bush yet again maintained it was the right thing to do, there weren't more people in the streets? Why weren't there tens of thousands spilling into the streets of every major city in the country? Maybe protests have gone out of fashion. Maybe they're not taken seriously, which makes sense after watching a long-haired dude dancing around with flowers painted on his body. Or that transsexual Code Pink protestor who stole the show at Valerie Plame's Congressional hearing last week.

I just keep thinking about Monica and the blue dress. Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter says it well in his editor's note this month:

"Inasmuch as we attempted to impeach one president for trying to cover up a political espionage campaign, and another actually was impeached for trying to cover up an inappropriate sexual liaison with a consenting adult, what does it say about this country, and about us, that we blithely allowed a third chief executive to lead us into a catastrophic and wholly unnecessary war that has cost tens of thousands of lives, nearly half a trillion dollars, and the respect of our long-term allies?"

OK. Discuss. --Megan Feldman

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