There are three parts to this consideration. Here is Part I. Here is Part III. The subject is the Bring the Troops Home from Iraq march and rally of Saturday afternoon, March 11, 2006. Both papers estimated 500 people attended, which is a lot. Here is a decent recap.
I went on the march but did not carry a sign or shout along with the anti-war chants. As a journalist at heart, I believe in the utility and fairness being an observer. But to better perceive what was going on, I had to be in the midst of it, not the sidewalk. Still it was wondrous to be in the midst of a parade of Americans of all ages and all economic classes, of students and Korean War veterans. Every speech in the square was not only well thought out, it was delivered by people who know how to be dynamic. The afternoon was downright inspiring. In spite of the folly I thought I would find, I felt empowered (and I thought such New Age fuzzy words gave way to faux emotions but there it was: hope).
So maybe we’re not actually accomplishing anything in real terms. We’re there for each other, and this is by God a constitutional right, to peaceably assemble, meaning rallies like this have been going on for centuries. Even though I’m sure that Vietnam didn’t end until the Pentagon was ready to pack it in and the timing had nothing to do with street protests, perhaps any demonstration gives people the assurance from their comrades that they’re on the right path.
During the march I saw many still and video cameras. I recognized some shooters, and others either had IDs hanging around their necks whose logos I recognized or carried their equipment in such a way as to prove they’re photojournalists. But not all of them. Some of the experienced looking picture takers did not look like TV or newspaper people. Could they be with law enforcement or the Teutonic-sounding Homeland Security? Why, yes. What about those with less-sophisticated equipment, in new bags? Some could well be part of the team hired out of the USA PATRIOT Act.
I realized that even though I had no picket, I did not shout, that pictures and videos of me ending up in some cabinet or database would not care. I am caught in the thick of it. I am guilty by association, and that in America is not supposed to be a crime. Peace, Now! Peace, Now?