Saturday, March 22, 2003

The March of a Million in New York

There was a massive protest in New York City today. People gathered around noon from 42nd and Broadway downward. The gathering swelled down Broadway and then the whole mob marched down to Washington Square, which runs from Eighth Street down to Fourth, a distance of 30-odd blocks. I heard that WBAI reported there were a million in the march. Of course the commercial media will admit to "tens of thousands," no more.

It was the first time in a long time I had been to a demonstration where the environmental conditions were not extremely challenging. The one in New York February 15, the one in DC in January, and the one in DC in October were all extremely cold, reminiscent of a Jack London adventure. Today was stunningly beautiful. It was that perfect first spring day, the one time when you know spring has arrived. It was the kind of day you really want to be out. And when the pirates steering the ship of state are bombing civilians it's hard to sit around and watch television, or to otherwise engage in the commercial culture.

When things are this far out of control, it feels good to be in touch. With corporate media dominating the information channels, practically the only thing you can be in touch with is the corporate message, and that is deadly. It's much less alienating and crazymaking to be out on the streets in the real world with people of like mind, people who feel like you do that all this war is nuts, and is the last thing we need in this world right now.

Right now there are few activities I enjoy more than an antiwar protest. As long as hell is raining down on people in Iraq, I don't feel too inclined to dive into the deadening consumer culture. I'll still drink my beer, but I'm not feeling like doing a lot of shopping, doing my little part for America by buying, thanks.

Increasingly television is extremely toxic. I can just barely turn the disgusting thing on. And funny thing, as I get farther from that reality, I see the evolution more dramatically. And when I see it now, it seems to be desperate. The propaganda machine is becoming -- if such a thing can be imagined -- even more intense in its delivery of mind-numbing propaganda for the capitalist world domination agenda.

Having kicked the habit of watching the news every day, I find that you can not only survive without being forever locked onto the teat of the corporate media, you can be a lot more psychologically healthy, and not less informed, but better.

I put it on for a quick scan tonight to see what, if any, coverage they had of the demonstrations. I put on Channel 13, the public television station in New York, certainly the best station in New York and the least commercial, but these days still very corporate. I saw some flabby analyst yakking and frothing about how absolutely brilliant this whole invasion of Iraq is with its incredibly smart weapons and commanders and the coordination of all this stuff and he just couldn't say enough about how much he wanted to sleep with one of those generals --

Okay, he didn't actually say he wanted to sleep with one of the generals. But there was a little of that feeling in what he was saying. He looked like the nurd the bully used to slap around and make a fool of, who is now just so thrilled to be actually getting some acceptance from these tough military guys. So he's only too happy to give them the best possible endorsement.

"Do you agree with Commander BlaBlaBla that this operation was extremely successful in its coordination of massive force with the coordination of massive force and the precise application of massive force?" the TV "journalist" asks.

"Oh, ABSOLUTELY!," says the expert. "It's amazing how far we have come since the last Gulf War, I mean the degree of accuracy of these weapons is really something, I mean we're not talking about 1991, now we have all these state-of-the-art systems. This kind of operation today could not have been performed in 1991..."

At no time was there a mention of Iraqi casualties. To hear these guys talk the Iraqi people are practically ecstatic that the great American liberators, the guardians of their freedom and pursuit of happiness, have finally arrived. We are shown pictures of the city burning, a sight which is supposed to fill us with some sort of patriotic pride apparently, or AWE, and then they tell us in blatant contradiction that the military campaign is so brilliantly put together that the people of Iraq will be miraculously spared any harm, and in fact they are apparently thrilled to see the Americans. This they say they have the footage to prove.

But seeing the people beseeching the troops does not prove they are happy with what is going on. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to realize that if you were in their position you'd probably be real nice to the invaders too. What choice do they have?

They've endured this monster Saddam -- thanks to the US in large measure for putting him there, financing him, giving him weapons -- now they have to endure a war to liberate them from him. Time for a new oppressor. The Bushes like to keep the employee roster fresh, to keep things moving around. Saddam may have served their purposes in the past, not any more. Now he goes off with Noriega, Osama bin Laden and any number of other former employees who have later become the enemy of the year.

There is a new energy out there, a new self-awareness, increased commitment and passion. People are waking up, taking action. They don't want to stand by and see their country turned into a vehicle for some little group of would-be world dictators.

After a few minutes of looking for coverage on the demonstrations and not finding any, I turned off the TV. Even a short exposure to it can leave me debilitated.

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