IWR Exclusive - San Francisco Anti-War Protest 02/16/2003 - Page 1
IWR Exclusive Coverage
San Francisco (IWR) - I met two friends in Oakland, California where we caught the BART with our pre-paid tickets. The Bart train was filled to capacity with protesters.
Looking these people over, you could tell this was like no protest from the 1960's. These people were from all walks of life, from the fringes of society to corporate executives.
The reason San Francisco held its march on February 16th instead of the 15th was because it would have conflicted with the Chinese New Years parade which was held on Saturday. Millions of people protested worldwide on Saturday.
When we got off at the Embarcadero Station, it reminded me of Tokyo the way the entrance was so jam packed with people and their protest gear.
When I hear McCarthyites like columnist Mike Kelley accuse protesters of being Anti-American and duped by a Stalinist conspiracy, all one had to do was look at the mother and daughter I saw carrying their peace doves on sticks and stings with olive branches in the dove beaks. These were not reds. These were not hippies. These were patriotic Americans who felt, like me, that it was their duty to protest against an immoral preemptive war with Iraq.
We found a clear spot in the middle of Market street and immediately there was cheer from the crowd as some young guy climbed up precariously in small tree with a sign that said "Grow Trees! Not Bushes!". It was at that point that the crowd began to spontaneously cheer that slogan. I was worried for a second that this nut might just fall out of the tree, but everything was after his after his 60 seconds of fame.
I brought my camera, and I decided that I wanted to take some pictures of some of the more humorous posters and people in costumes.
Ron pointed out the poster "Somewhere in Texas a Village is Missing Its Idiot!", and we all had a good laugh over that one. I also managed to get the picture above.
I have never been at a demonstration this large before, and it reminded me a lot of being at a jazz concert or outdoor festival but only with about 250,000 people!
One thing that this type of event seems to draw out is percussion freaks. It seemed every block had a group of people with drums, plastic buckets, sticks, bells and cymbals tapping out their peace march rhythms.
The march up Market Street was very slow moving, and I found these small steps that you take marching are very tiring on the legs. I looked up on the sidewalk and saw that the flow of the crowd seemed to be moving much better so we took that route up the street to the Civic Center.
It must have taken us over an hour to walk the two miles from the Embarcadero to the Civic Center. Along the way there were many fleeting images of people marching in costumes, and I remember in a particular a large real pretzel in the shape of a peace sign. I imagine this was meant for Dubya to choke on. We laughed over the sight of that pretzel.
Speaking of the Crawford's village idiot, the protest in San Francisco was as much a protest against the Bush Administration as it was against a war with Iraq. I think many people like myself are sick of the bellicose style of this administration. These Bush people are really unnecessarily obnoxious.
Many of us are also tired of the administration's constant beating of the
war drums and whipping up of terrorist hysteria this administration seems to
like to wallow in for political reasons. It's time to move past
this fixation with war and terrorism and get on with our lives.
It's really too bad. I think a lot like of people like myself, who supported the war against the Taliban, had some hopes that Bush would turn out to be a better statesman and perhaps work for peace in the Middle East. I think he had the momentum to forge a peace settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians, but Bush had preemption and the Axis of Evil on his peanut sized mind. He wrote off nearly everyone at this anti-war demonstration when he made his state of the union speech in January 2002. His alignment with Ariel Sharon around the same time didn't help matters either.
No one at this demonstration had any sympathy for Saddam Hussein. We all know that like many of our former allies in in South America that this man is monster.
Of course, the world and Middle East in particular is full of dictators. Now you can call the House of Saud, a royal family, but I don't see much difference between their government and Hussein's. After all, there were no Iraqis on those 9/11 suicide missions. However, lots of Saudis rode to their death for Osama and his crazy brand of Saudi Wahhabism. This religious sect provides the fuel for the vicious hate that stokes the fires of terrorism. No one has ever committed suicide in the name of Saddam Hussein. By the way, how many weapons of mass destruction are the Saudis and and Turks hiding? Just thought I'd ask.
Also, if we were interested in getting rid of all of the terrorists in Afghanistan, why did Bush Administration let the Pakistanis fly in and rescue their people before Kunduz fell? Who was on that plane?
I wonder how many of our allies have chemical and biological weapons? Does the U.S., U.K., Israel, Russia, China, France or Pakistan have such weapons? If so, do they plan to destroy their weapons too? One thing is certain, all of those nations have nuclear weapons.
There is also this troubling problem of setting a precedent for preemption. What happens when India preemptively attacks Pakistan? Or when Russia, preemptively attacks Chechnya? Or China, attacks Vietnam? Preemptively attacking a sovereign nation without a causa belli like 9/11 is immoral.
The Neocons who dictate the Bush Policy on Iraq and the Middle East have been planning their corporate takeover of Iraq for years and most likely Syria, Libya and Iran will be the next targets. Dick Cheney had started planning for this imperial quest back in 1992. And almost the whole Bush Cartel, signed this infamous letter to Bill Clinton in 1998.
This is indeed an imperial war plan. Hussein has something that we want. It's called oil. If this were just about liberation, why are we not talking about liberating the people of Sudan or Tibet or all the other oppressed masses on this planet?
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