Spent a very cold day in the nation’s capital protesting today’s embarrassingly lavish Republican coronation. Don’t that idiot Bush and his de la Renta-clad missus realize that there’s a “war” on? Or that people are suffering in Asia, Africa, and Newark? Bad, bad show.
And how about this: On the day the country is supposed to celebrate its values and founding principles, we had law-enforcement types doing their level best to prevent people from exercising their inalienable rights. The amount of security was amazing — the Man was inescapable. Security checkpoints prevented a lot of dissenters from being able to reach Pennsylvania Avenue, snipers were on rooftops, and thuggish-looking cops were everywhere. What is their goal?, I wondered. Are they trying to protect us all from terrorists, or are they trying to protect Shrubbie from his subjects?
I turned out to be among the lucky peaceniks — I got to spend some time at the International Answer rally, where I ment a fab young lady named Anna who helped me land a choice spot at 4th and Pennsylvania. Others were not so fortunate — thousands of protestors were held up at Secret Service checkpoints and not allowed to get any closer to the parade route. Friggin’ typical: Shrubbie’s coronation address contained a pledge to stop tyranny, yet his goons spent the day being tyrannical. God bless the USA.
As you can imagine, I was not in a good mood. The mistreatment of my partners in peace was hard to take: A small number of people ended up in police custody, including some Code Pink for Peace representatives arrested for shouting during Bushie’s mouthing of empty rhetoric (since when is obedient silence mandated by law?). Other dissenters were actually pepper-sprayed by cops. And they call this America? There is no excuse. Granted, a tiny minority of the protesters behaved badly: I heard that a small group of anti-Bushies allegedly threw snowballs and pieces of fruit at Bush’s and Cheney’s limousines and that another small group pushed down a fence near the Willard Hotel. (I understand and share their frustration, but violence is never the answer.) But on the whole, the demonstrators were peaceful. The police violence was unnecessary. Worse, it was a cruel contradiction: A presidential inauguration is supposed to be an event for the people. Well, anti-Bush people have the right to take part too, even if they want to shout, even if they want to burn a stupid piece of cloth, even if you don’t like their opinion. It is shameful and disgusting that many of them were not permitted to speak their piece about the human who is supposedly their president and employee too.
As the afternoon passed, the temperature dropped and my fury grew. I worked my way up Pennsylvania, getting as far as just below 14th Street. It wasn’t an easy trek: I was dragging a sign behind me and didn’t want to incite any confrontations with Shrub supporters or gestapo types looking to pummel a peacenik. So, attempting to be unobtrustive, I walked silently when possible — sometimes right wingers love to bait peaceniks with stupid questions, goddess bless ‘em. With each step, I watched the faces of the people along the route, the people many would cast as my enemies. Most were jubilant Red Staters cheering for their hero, political savior, what have you. The experience was surreal — it was like being part of an Ionesco scene. You should have seen these people as they awaited the second coming of Their Leader: The anticipatory smiles, the wide eyes, the puffed-out chests, the happy tears rolling down rosy Republican cheeks as they waved their flags and thanked their god. Made my stomach churn. I am sure that most of these people are fairly decent folks, but the experience didn’t do much to convince me of Americans’ intelligence. Today, I am sure. These people around me, despite our profound disagreements, are my sisters and brothers, as are people anywhere on this planet. But I am not American. And I am glad of it.
Despite my overall black mood, an occurrence did send me into a fit of raucous laughter. I finally found a small group of likeminded folks — safety in numbers, right? — holding anti-Bush signs; we were near the Willard. As the Residential motorcade made its way toward us, we began shouting and waving our posters. Well, the Shrub’s flotilla of cars picked up its pace. Sped up. Put the pedals to the metal. Hilarious! I suppose the Creep in Chief didn’t want to deal with seeing the “Worst President Ever” and “US Out of Iraq” signs. It absolutely made my day to see the chickenhawk terrorist fleeing peaceful protesters. Hey, if Dubya can’t take pacifists’ heat — if he is afraid of his own countrypeople — perhaps he should refrain from invading sovereign nations, where people fight back with bombs and guns.
I am safe at home now, and the anger of Black Thursday remains: The next four years will be hell and half the nation is downright thrilled about it. The big-bully regime in charge has shown itself to be arrogant and cowardly all at once. And it appears Bush and his henchpersons will do whatever they can to make life as difficult as possible for those who would dare dissent. But despite today’s horror show, I did find something positive on this day of mourning: Thousands and thousands of peaceful people stood up and showed that no matter what, we will not bend to the repugnant powers that be and we will not be silenced. Hallelujah.
Last thing: An anonymous correspondent has a most interesting sense of timing. When I retrieved my email, a link to a Liquid Generation quiz on patriotism awaited me. Of course I took the test. And of course, the result will not surprise you.