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<nettime> barlow {AT} anti-war demo
geert lovink on Mon, 28 Oct 2002 10:50:51 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> barlow {AT} anti-war demo

From: "John Perry Barlow" <barlow {AT} eff.org>
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?

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