September 18, 2007

Washington, D.C., September 15, 2007

We stood in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, and mingled with the anti-war protesters gearing up to march. You couldn't imagine a more diverse crowd. Old, young, clean-cut, ragged out, dressed up, dressed down, white, black, brown, you name it. They dressed like hippies, like soldiers, like tourists, like death.

And they seemed to represent every cause imaginable. Ten minutes after listening to a speaker lament the occupation of Palestine I ran into a friend who works for AIPAC. Veterans back from the war stood near the wingnut with the megaphone ranting about government ID implants in newborns. In a lot of ways, it was like an outdoor rock festival, just without the rock bands.

Down Pennsylvania Avenue, along a two block stretch, a much smaller crowd had gathered. I would put them all between 40 and 55, white, clean-cut, in pressed shirts, shorts, and tennis shoes. All dressed the same, all of them intensely angry. As the march passed by they shouted at the protesters, calling them out as individuals and hurling insults at them. They called the men cowards and the women Iraqi whores. I have never been near an angry mob. It's a scary experience.

I took this photo after the marchers had passed by their vicious counterparts, and things had relaxed a little. Maybe you can see, in the faces of the people behind the banner, the jubilation, optimism and peace that carried the day.

No comments: