Friday, April 26, 2002
SAUDI ARABIA: "ALLIES IN PEACE"
Just saw a pro-Saudi TV commercial this morning, boasting that the United States and Saudi Arabia have been allies for "sixty years" and showing numerous photos of smiling Saudi sheiks posing with U.S. politicans. The written message at the end of the commercial declared: "Allies in Peace." Coming from the same government that sponsors a newspaper which declared just a few weeks ago that Jews put the blood of Muslims in their Purim pastries, it's rather revolting to witness this blatant propaganda. I've been trying to find the written text of the commercial online, but just wanted to post this right away.
Monday, April 22, 2002
NOTE TO PROTESTORS: DILUTING YOUR MESSAGE DOES NOT HELP YOUR CAUSE
As Eve Tushnet has already described on her blog, our bawdy right-wing coalition numbered only three and included myself, Eve, and Shamed. Still, despite the rather meager supplies at hand (a few markers and highlighters, 8.5 by 11 oaktag paper, and scotch tape), it felt useful to be a lone voice of dissent amidst a sea of lefties for causes ranging from the Green Party ("Yea Nader!" Shamed cheered as they passed. "Thanks for giving us the White House") to Patriots for Peace, to various pro-PLO factions.
A few highlights to add to Eve's account:
One of the things that disturbed me most, was the numerous children being used as political billboards for their parents' causes. Now, don't get me wrong, I fully support the right of parents to pass on their values to their offspring, bad, bad brainwashing public schools, etc. But I think that there's a difference between discussing complex social and political issues in the home with your children, and turning your four-year-old out on the streets wearing a sticker supporting the Palestinian state on her back (I saw several). Also witnessed was the sight of two young boys marching with an older woman, possibly Grandma, shouting out parts of various political cheers into a megaphone she was carrying. I personally didn't see this scene, but read Radley Balko's account of a terrified young girl being carried in a coffin for an even harsher use of children in activism.
By all means, take your children to protests and rallies, but don't actually expect them to participate until they are of an age (at least 8-10 years old I would say) where they're able to comprehend what they are rallying for. To subject children to the ethos of the mob before they are able to comprehend the issues at stake can't be good for their ultimate comprehension. This applies to conservatives who use their young offspring in pro-life protests as well as to the red diaper babies who were out in force this weekend.
Most of the signs we saw, especially among the more mainstream lefty protest that began at the Washington Monument, were silly and juvenile, but a few, such as a mock Israeli flag with a blue swastika in the center instead of the Star of David, and others with swastikas that contained the names of various political figures such as Ashcroft on the arms of the symbol were truly disturbing. For those who are constantly harping about language and symbols offending others, it wouldn't hurt for the left to show a little sensitivity.
Interestingly, despite our obviously pro-war signs, we were constantly mistaken by our fellow protestors as being on their side (perhaps they didn't even bother to read the signs). One woman told us about a conservative counter-protest, which she found "ridiculous" and laughable. Though we didn't get a chance to see it, from her description it did sound pretty sad, consisting mainly of signs that said, "Patriots Over Here. Cowards and Traitors Over There" or something to that effect. Unhelpful rhetoric to say the least, and (though I'm not familiar with those who organized the protest) I can't help questioning why they felt they had to set up a separate camp. I felt I was doing the most good by marching side-by-side with the lefties, so they'd be forced to confront voices of dissent.