I went down to the demonstration...

To get my fair share of abuse
Singing, "We're gonna vent our frustration
If we don't we're gonna...

Write a VERY Strongly Worded Letter. And wear funny Third World hats. You just see if we don't.

One hundred people showed up, at the corner of Michigan and Park in Kalamazoo for a rush hour protest against escalation of the war in Iraq. There were only five catcalls from the passersby: "Get a life!", "Go Bush!", "Get a Job!", "I have family members in the service!" and "Pray for your president!" Compared with driver response when the war began, there was almost constant horn honking, waving and calls of support. The local chain newspaper's account gives the false impression that opinion was evenly divided. I was there, bubeleh, with my freak memory in tow, and counted five voices and one inarticulate howl gainst us, but more than one hundred in agreement with the protest. This distortion is to be expected from a newspaper that endorsed Bush twice.

I was there, waving a "No More Troops" sign, but I never quite fit in at a demonstration. They're almost always organized by non-violent groups, and I'm not opposed to violence; I'm just against such a badly-run war. Odd that this trash fire in Iraq was lit by men who were too proud to fight in Vietnam.

I'm skeptical about the efficacy of street protest as a 21st century tactic. Did we accomplish anything tonight, chip away at the mountain, or only lubricate the machine and make everyone feel better? Why not protest in Portage, a stronghold for Bush?

The news cameras were there, and a reporter for the no-longer-local chain newspaper, but like Prufrock's mermaids, I do not think that they will sing to me. There were war veterans there, and mothers of soldiers, and college professors, and at least one genuine Iraqui whose family is still trapped-- never mind them, find me a white guy with dreadlocks and a laundry list of causes I can talk to.

Do we need a "Clean for Gene" manifesto for protestors? Shall we request formal attire or work clothes, to cut down on the exhibitionism of the spiritual clog-dancers in the crowd? Media coverage of these events will almost use their antics to trivialize opposition to the war. They mean well, Barbara Ehrenrich may think they're adorable, I myself will happily discuss shamanism and tantric sex at the coffee shop after the protest, dance buck naked like the Ringtailed Nonesuch at Carnival time, but don't let yourself be made to look the fool when life and death are at stake and a grotesque mass murdering clown, George W. Bush, masquerades as a serious person.

There are 100 earnest, aching people there who don't want any more lives to be wasted. I watch the news cameraman scan the crowd and, as always, I see him focus the longest on the person wearing the funniest hat.

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