So apparently, it’s all about oil.

Now, I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to trot out a bunch of exhaustive arguments about national security, nuclear weapons, a murderous dictator who’s repeatedly shown himself to be aggressive… blah, blah, blah.

Yeah, but see, I was in San Francisco to see the rally today, and they all just seemed so damn sure that the gooey gold of Iraq was the real thing on Bush’s mind. Well, most of them did, anyway. The relatively small assortment of others not holding to the oil-line couldn’t quite reach such a cohesive consensus. A sizable portion of the remainders singled out the Global Zionist Conspiracy as the war-mongering culprits. From this, I think one can reasonably deduce that those dirty Jews are just licking their baby-eating lips thinking about kicking all the Palestinians out of their ancient ancestral homelands in… Iraq? I don’t pretend to understand the rationale behind this argument, but then, I’m not that bright. I’ll leave it in your much more intellectually capable hands to sort out the rhyme and reason.

Have you done that? Good. So now maybe you can figure this one out:




No, no, don’t adjust your monitor. Yes, that is a banner calling for the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted cop-killer on death row and the darling of the academic elite, whose name or picture is as valid a secret handshake among the counter-cultural leftwing as anything written by Noam Chomsky. Anyone who can figure out what his misguided fanbase is doing pimping for his release at an anti-war rally is anyone’s guess. Perhaps part of “ending racism” (being one of the core missions of A.N.S.W.E.R .) happens to include releasing people who shoot cops and happen to be black, have killer dredlocks, and are able to spout all kinds of pseudo-intellectual Marxist buzzwords.

The rally was advertised to begin at about 11 am at Embarcadero, where it would then proceed a brisk 2 miles down Market Street and culminate at the Civic Center in front of City Hall, apparently where the main event was to take place. I was holding out the ambitious hope that the rally organizers would break with protest tradition and have the march end with a no-holds-barred cage match between a mountain gorilla and a grizzly bear. That was a tad overly ambitious, it turns out. I mean, I’m not completely inflexible. I would have settled even for some sort of monkey knife fight.

Really though, at its most basic, I was really just crossing my fingers praying that Saturday’s ordeal would end in some other way than the standard immobile horde of marchers gathered around a stage from which poured bad rhetoric and worse poetry.

I didn’t even leave for the BART station until after 11. I figured that, since anti-war demonstrators being the fashionable people they are, most of them would be fashionably late. And after all, there’s nothing more embarrassing than showing up to the protest early, unless you come to the thing dressed in the same prom dress as your best friend (we had coordinated beforehand though, so no worries on that front).

And by all indications, I had chosen aright, since it seemed I was being pressed into the subway car with just about every other person going to San Francisco that day [insert sardine reference here], which allowed me the opportunity to discretely listen in on several conversations by earnest young people who were at an acute loss as to why everyone else in the country wouldn’t listen to them and thus solve all the world’s problems lickety-split.

The member of one such trio of eager marchers, in an apparent effort to acknowledge that just perhaps there was another side to the debate, mentioned quietly that, even though this whole, like… war thing, is of course all about oil ‘n stuff, Saddam is still sorta, you know… pretty evil, or something.

It didn’t seem to go over as the paltry statement of even-handedness he had hoped for, as one of his friends, her strong disapproval showing through her voice, demurred.

“Ok, like Saddam isn’t evil. Darth Vader is evil, ok? Like, Sauron is evil. Saddam isn’t evil, dude. That isn’t a term you can even apply to like, real people, ok? It’s like completely beyond any concept of reality.”

I didn’t take the time to check, but I am nevertheless certain she indignantly upbraided the carrier of the large placard at the rally reading, “Bush is Sauron” later that day with the same stern admonitions against dehumanization of one’s enemy.

Still in the subway car, however, she continued .

“And like, calling Saddam evil just so perfectly illustrates that Bush is like, so incapable of any kind of logical thought, you know? It’s also uh… totally racist, too.”

“Yeah,” her scolded companion agreed, his head lowered. “Yeah, you’re right.”

…and so forth. I’ve come to the conclusion that at one point we became stuck in some sort of space-time rift. It’s the only explanation I’ve come up with so far to account for the seeming excruciatingly slow passage of time.

Anyway, eventually we did get to San Francisco, and the bright-eyed members of Young People For Saddam quickly filed out and jostled up the stairs and escalators to get at the real action. Walking up from the subterranean levels of the BART station into the light of day, slowly hearing the roar get louder and louder, I felt vaguely like I was about to emerge out from the tunnel into the bustling stands of Yankee Stadium.

Only instead of baseball players, screaming fans and hot dog vendors, you get commies, anarchists and hippies galore.

Of course, it’s unfair to lump all the attendees in with those labels, but even those that didn’t fall into the tie-dyed, open-toed extremist camp weren’t exactly selling a mainstream message, either. From what I could tell, as the throng plodded down Market Street to the ever-present thud of bongo drums and chroused renditions of “Give Peace a Chance,” there were all types of people who probably had never used the word “Amerikkka” in in their whole life. But it didn’t take long to realize that even they weren’t marching with any kind of communicable message to send to the millions of people in the swayable political center of America whose opinions are actually important enough to divert the government from a plan of war.

In fact, looking for any kind of coherent anti-war stance, save for the never tiresome claims about oily causality would most likely lead a person truly undecided on the matter of Iraq to turn away in disgust when they are confronted with the ugly and baseless accusation that the senior elected officials in our government are willing to risk the lives of thousands of Americans and many more thousands of Iraqis solely in order to line their pockets with a few more million bucks of dirty oil money.


If you really want to sway opinion against the war, you have to be Walter Cronkite, not Abbie Hoffman. You have to make the case that the risks outweigh the benefits, both pragmatically and morally. You have to not accuse those in favor of war of being genocidal fascist pigs bent on killing millions of brown people because… well because they’re there, dammit! You don’t let an antiwar rally devolve into a carnival for any and every extreme leftwing cause out there . You have to admit that, for all the flaws that you see in the leaders with which you disagree, they are in no way comparable to Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden.




And above all else, you don’t allow your message to be hijacked and funneled through a group that is a front for the Workers World Party, because how many Americans are going to be enthusiastic about supporting an organization that wants to abolish the United States of America in favor of a global communist state?

But then, all of this is assuming that they actually do want to convince a section of America broader than their own ideologically narrow ranks, and I don’t think this is the case. Essentially, this was a day for all the folks who find meaning in their lives by being self-righteously opposed to the majority to show just how self-righteous they are to each other, and who can make the most clever Bush/Hitler reference.

When I got to the civic center, there was some woman who at least styled herself a poet at the loudspeaker, reading some freestyle poetry that would make Amiri Baraka jealous. She claimed the war in Iraq was a Zionist conspiracy to expand Israel until the Jews took over the entire region. She said that the US government wanted to install a new Saddam Hussein of their own choosing and that they were going to gobble up every country in the Middle East until it was one big American colony. She ranted about “indigenous peoples” rising up and expelling the illegal immigrant white-eyes. She proclaimed that they would take back “Palestine” (all of it) and that “the Intifada will continue!”

If I’m making it sound as if she was raving like a friggin’ lunatic, that’s because, well, she was raving like a friggin’ lunatic.

All to the delirious applause of the audience, of course. It was at that point that I decided, “Yup, that’s about it,” and started to make my way back up Market to the BART station. It didn’t mean that they were finished. Hoo-boy, not by a long shot. That woman at the podium seemingly jockeying for the position of New Jersey poet laureate alone seemed to have the lung capacity and fury to go one for hours. What I meant was that there wasn’t going to be anything new. Nothing I hadn’t heard before; but more importantly, nothing that was worth hearing.

Nothing that would resonate outside of the sheltered enclaves of the leftcoast leftwing. Nothing that put forth any message besides the strange logic of, “Bush worked for an oil company. Now he wants to invade a country that has oil. It’s just that simple! Can’t you see the connection?”

As I boarded the BART train for the ride home, I couldn’t help but feel just a little sorry for them. In six weeks, when the war has already come and gone and the Iraqis have barely finished dancing in the streets and news about just how awful Saddam really was floods the world, how are they going to be able to console themselves?

“I mean, man, the war actually seemed to help those Iraqi people. They sorta even look happy, dude. And man, that Saddam was one badass mutha. The people are like, more healthy and safe and stuff. What’s up with that? And millions of civilians didn’t die. Dude, what happened?

“I know man, I know . It’s a sad day. Truly, a tragedy for the entire world. Come on, we’ve got that Mumia rally later today. Gotta finish those protest signs.”

last update : 26-5-2018

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