[silk] I Went Down to the Demonstration... (fwd)

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sun Oct 27 23:20:29 PST 2002

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 08:28:12 +0530
From: Udhay Shankar N <udhay at pobox.com>
To: silklist at lists.vipul.net
Subject: [silk] I Went Down to the Demonstration...

 From John Perry Barlow. Interesting.


>---------------------->> -------------------->>>> ------>
>100, 000 March in San Francisco. Media Fail to Notice.
>So I went down to the demonstration yesterday. Instead of getting my fair 
>share of abuse - the San Francisco police were as non-confrontational as 
>Muppits - I was ignored. Along with anywhere from 50,000 to 150,000 other 
>In spite of its being largest and most demographically diverse 
>demonstration I've seen in a long career of dissent, the closest the Bay 
>Area peace march came to being a national event was a mention on page 8 of 
>the New York Times that thousands had also gathered in San Francisco.
>Perhaps if it had turned violent... But probably not. As I said in my last 
>blast, the best way to neutralize us is to pretend that we don't exist. 
>The puzzling question to me is, why are the media going along with George 
>II on this. What the hell is in it for them?
>I mean, we know that the war sells papers. William Randolph Hearst, a 
>pioneer in this regard, told his photographer in Cuba - where the 
>battleship Maine  had just exploded, providing the excuse for the 
>Spanish-American War - "You get the pictures. I'll get the war."
>But if all you're trying to do is to get and keep public attention, any 
>popular fracas will suffice. I am certain that a lot of people bought the 
>paper today to find out about yesterday's demonstrations. Why couldn't 
>such a modest desire find its gratification? It's weird. I can think of no 
>mechanism by which the White House could directly muzzle the press without 
>someone getting the word out over the Internet. But something is making 
>the media act as if opposition to this war is no big deal.
>But from where I was marching, it looked like a big deal, and not simply 
>because everything I'm involved with looks like a big deal to me. This was 
>huge. Let me tell you a little about it, since apparently no one else is 
>going to.
>I've been on the road with Mountain Girl Garcia. We have been staying at 
>her daughter Trixie's Julia Morgan house in Oakland and decided to take 
>BART across the Bay rather than experience the agony of looking for a 
>parking place in a city that doesn't have parking places even when nothing 
>unusual is going on in town.  When we got to the north Oakland BART 
>station around 11:00, there was already a line for the ticket machines 
>that snaked half an hour out into the parking lot. The train, when we 
>finally got on it, was breathing room only. There was a line to get out of 
>the station at the Embarcadero.
>I'm not keen on being in line, but these experiences were not at all 
>unpleasant. There was a lovely energy among the protesters, who seemed to 
>be of all social sorts. It was not just the usual suspects. There were 
>children, old people, men in suits, as well as people who will never wear 
>a suit. A lot of tweedy academic types. Not so many with darker skins, I 
>regret to say, but some. The only truly common element seemed to be a 
>pleasant civilization.
>And there were one hell of a lot of us.
>When we finally got up to Market Street around noon, the march had already 
>launched toward the Civic Center. Market was dense with humanity as far as 
>I could see in that direction. We counted several different cross-sections 
>of the moving populace, and the parade seemed to be about 20 people 
>across. Assuming that each phalanx of 20 moved though per second, this 
>would be about 72,000 people per hour. The march continued unabated for at 
>least 2 and a half hours. If our calculations are even a little accurate, 
>this would be over a hundred fifty thousand people who had gathered to 
>protest a war that has barely begun.
>I remember the first anti-war protest I ever attended. It was in the fall 
>of 1965 and it took place on Boston Commons. I'd be surprised if there 
>were more than a hundred people there, though they included, as I recall, 
>Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky. It was not until after Kent State, five 
>years later, that I saw anything like the assembly of protestors I 
>witnessed yesterday.
>Furthermore, on that occasion, in May of '70, it seemed that just about 
>everyone filling the Mall in DC looked pretty much like me. We were not 
>The People. Not to say that scruffy, dope-smoking kids weren't well 
>represented in yesterday's march. But they were certainly not the 
>majority, even if you counted the scruffy, dope-smoking seniors like me. 
>Mostly the marchers seemed like Just Plain Folks.
>There were some great signs. Like "Impeach the Uber-Goober." Or "No 
>Weapons of Mass Distraction." Or "If Tim McVeigh caused 911, would we bomb 
>Michigan?" Or "Chez Panisse for Peace." Or "Stop The Bushit!" Or "Stay 
>Glued to the TV, You Hysterical, Brainwashed Fool!" One showed a concerned 
>looking whale with a thought balloon that said, "Save the Humans."
>It seems important to me that this many Just Plain Folks could come to 
>together on such short notice. It seems important that so many could 
>gather in indignation without any violent or rude behavior. It seems 
>important  to me.
>But it's not important to the media. Why?

((Udhay Shankar N)) ((udhay @ pobox.com)) ((www.digeratus.com))

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