Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Let's Play Political Blog!

The protest was amazing. Life-changing. Inspiring. A cause for hope. 100,000 people gathered in the streets and demanded change.

Not that anyone who wasn't there would know that. Thanks, big media, thanks a lot.

If you got your info on from CNN or FOX or the AP (that is, if you found any coverage at all), it probably went something like this: Peace protesters squared off with pro-war advocates in DC. Radicals got maced and arrested. Now, back to OJ...

Where's that liberal media when you need 'em?

Here's my experience:

We took the subway to downtown DC and picked up a couple of "End the war NOW" signs. We were over three hours early for the march, and although hundreds of people were already gathered behind the White House, we decided to take some time to explore. We'd barely been there five minutes when a man approached us and said, sheepishly, in broken English, "Can I please take a photo with you?"

"Sure," my boyfriend and I said, and he handed my brother his camera.

"Can you please hold the signs high?" the man asked.

We hoisted them up and smiled for the picture. Afterward, I asked him where he was from.

"Mexico City," he told us, and motioned to the signs. "Thank you. Thank you so much."

We headed back to the gathering place (not before being stopped and thanked by a man from India and encouraged by a delivery man who said, "Let's bring our boys home."). Thousands of people had congregated by now, but still, when I looked up at the White House, I felt insignificant and vulnerable. I don't know, maybe it was the snipers.

The pre-march rally was really inspiring. We heard from Iraq war veterans, military moms, and ministers of every religion. I can't think of any other way to say this, so I'll have to employ a cliche here, but there was truly an electricity in the air. I was surrounded by tens of thousands of other people who wanted--demanded--peace on earth. I turned around during one of the speeches and saw that the square had filled completely, and people were overflowing down every street farther than I could see (that's "farther than I could see," not "farther than the eye could see"--jesus, I'm not that into cliches). You know that giant protest scene in Forrest Gump where the guy keeps yelling "Viet-fucking-nam!"? It felt like that. It was amazing.

The march itself was fuckin' incredible. The sky stretched out in front of us in perfect blue, people were laughing and chanting, there was even a guy selling pretzels--God truly blessed America.

A beautiful old church on the march route had opened its doors and set up speakers that were playing "How to Save a Life." And this is when I fell in love with Washington DC.

Now, the media would have you believe that the ratio of peace protesters to pro-war protesters was 1:1, if not 1 crazy hippie:500,000 honorable patriots, but holy hell is this wrong. We didn't encounter one pro-war person until about three-quarters of the way into the march. While there were only 500-1000 of them (versus our 100,000, which doesn't totally reflect public opinion or anything...), I've got to give them credit for extreme nastiness. They yelled death threats at us and asked why we love terrorists so much (ah yes, I do love my terrorists). Here is a picture of a sweet old lady gesturing to a young woman peace protester that she wants to slit her throat (I'm dead serious):

Isn't that adorable??

Anyway, I'm not going to waste any more words on them because they've already been exhaustively lauded by all major media outlets. I will say that America is a wonderful place where two groups that are so opposed to each have every right to share a space and voice their views, but when there are 500 people on one side, and tens of thousands on the other, and the media gives them equal billing, well, that's a fucking tragedy.

When we reached Capitol Hill, the police were in riot gear and had a barricade set up so we couldn't get close. They were marching back and forth in such a dramatic fashion that part of the crowd started singing the Imperial theme from Star Wars. I thought that was clever.

People started offering themselves up for arrest by voluntarily crossing the police line. They would climb over a small fence and the cops would grab them. The crowd roared "Thank you!" as each pair of handcuffs snapped shut. It was beautiful. Two hundred people--Iraq veterans, old ladies, teenagers--went to jail to make a statement. It would have made a damn good one, too, had any of this been covered by the media.

Things got pretty tense at this stage in the protest. More cops were flooding in and they placed officers with tear gas at the front lines. A geeky teenage boy a few feet behind me got bored and started playing light saber, by himself, with a piece of his sign. A cop wearing a face mask, grabbed a can of pepper spray big enough to disable a bear and shouted, "You see the stick? You see the guy with the stick?" to the officer next to him, who drew his baton and said, "I see it." I heard screaming as a group of rowdier protesters a few hundred feet to my left got maced. People were calling the cops "traitors" and yelling "Shame on you!" This wasn't a situation I wanted to be in. First of all, crowds can get crazy really fast and give the cops ample reason to use force. And secondly, I didn't come to Washington DC to taunt cops, who were just doing their jobs, I came to protest the war.

Here's me posing with one of the cops who was guarding my section:

We had a bond. I know he felt it too.

In conclusion, it was a fantastic experience, and although the lack of media coverage is enraging (only after wading through hours of OJ news did we find a brief mention of the march), to be there, to see the passion of the people, was so encouraging. Also, I fell completely in love with Washington DC and hope to move there sometime in the next few years. If you live there and read my blog, you are required to be my friend.

As for the question of what to wear to a protest march (and to sort of bring this blog back to the whole fashion thing), I decided to go with a trucker hat I got airbrushed by a reformed convict for fifteen bucks at the State Fair (classy, right?), big aviator sunglasses (always), a black t-shirt embellished with political buttons, a peace sign necklace, and jeans. Basic, yes, but it did the job.

I wanted to say thank you to all of you who left supportive comments and emails. I had my mom read them to me at different airport stops throughout the trip (and I read them a million times when I got home) and they made my heart flutter!

Thanks so much for your support and patience, and now we should be back to our regularly scheduled programming.


Anonymous said...

I wish I had been there! Thanks for doing this. Cops tasered some kid in Tampa b/c he wouldn't shut up. So it's not suprising that they pulled out the mace. I like cops but sometimes the power goes to their heads. It was scary that FOX had the most coverage of the protests. But we have a more responsible media, focusing on real issues b/c of the election right? So obviously what happens to OJ is of great importance to the future of the nation.

Kori said...

I wish I had been there too! But as ang said, thanks for doing this. And hey, even though the big media wasn't so helpful, at least some of the protesters have well-read fashion blogs. (That would be you, in case you didn't get that)

Cate said...

Winona--I hate to sound condescending, but I am SO PROUD OF YOU. That is AMAZING, and you rule for going (all the way across the country!) to take part in this. Kudos to having the courage to stand up for your convictions. Seriously, your post just gave me a lump in my throat. I'm astounded and so appreciative that you did makes me feel that the way I think and feel was represented there, even though I could not be there.

You rock, plain and simple.

Unknown said...

Makes me all teary. Thank you. I wish it had made the news where I am.

Kristen said...

Hey Winona! Long time reader, first time commenter. I was at the march too! I go to school in DC, and my friends and I all got together and went down there. It sounds like we had as good of a time as you did. The weather was amazing, and the people were awesome. It was great just to feel like I was making a difference. I wasn't called a terrorist, but I was called a communist and told I should be ashamed. And should you move to DC while I'm still living here, you can definitely be my friend!

Nicky said...

winona thanks so much for sharing this with us, i seriously would not have known this even took place, with the wonderful news coverage and all. thank you for standing up for what you (and most of america) believe in!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that I'm so glad y'all went to DC. I didn't get to make it, and it warms my cold cynical heart to see people who are around my age still holding the political torch. It gets a little disheartening when I hear what some of my college students say (I'm an adjunct college instructor), and I'm so happy to hear that there are still people out willing to raise their voice. I actually was very politcally active before the beginning of the Iraq war and have had to trim back some of my activities with the birth of my son. So, keep it up sister! Your blog and you rock in a major way. Plus, yes, DC is fabulous :)

Dondasaurus Rex said...

i'm so mad taht you were in D.C and i didn't get a chance to run donw and get your autograph. you're a rockstar for protesting, i looked for coverage on it on my local news and there was very very little on it. It wasn't even picked up by our local paper the Gazette.

p.s. your man is the hotness
p.p.s since you were out demanding good, i will not judge you for your airbrushed hat.

Irene said...

You go girl. . .

And snipers would make anyone feel a little vulnerable!

The throat-slitting grandma needs some of that hippie love, but I don't think she'd like it!

Anonymous said...

you rock.

friday is international day of peace (or something along those lines). so wear a white tshirt. :]

Dondasaurus Rex said...

oh yeah if you're still feeling politcal tomorrow, then wear black in support of the jena 6

Anonymous said...


Thanks for being there to support it. I wish I could have been there, too.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you liked DC! I like it a lot, too. (Better than New York.)

Miss A said...

So happy that there are people out there like you! Sounds great, and truly like the life changing experience that you described.

Miss A said...

PS- You can have a friend in Vancouver, Canada too if you want!

mary said...

winona youre so fucking awesome! i heard about the protest on NPR here in northern california and i was like "heeeell yeah, thats my winona, going to get her peace on" :) also, your boy is fly
i hope you guys smoke the dank
but anyways there are so many infuriating aspects of our government and this war that i could go into, but there is not enough time. it just makes no sense! god damn god damn. anyways, i love you for this. and a thousand other reasons as swell.

daddylikeyblog said...

Thanks so much for commenting, and yes, what happens to OJ could very well alter the course of this world, so we better damn well pay attention!

I have so much blogger-to-blogger love for you, I could burst.

Not condescending in the least, and thank you so much for taking the time to write that! Your comment gave me a lump in my throat. Throat lumps all around!

I know! I wish it had made the news anywhere :(

Wasn't it the best experience ever?? I might have to move to Washington even sooner, just to take advantage of your friendship offer. Oh, and you're a total terrorist.

I was worried I would get a bunch of comments that said, "Just get back to fashion!" so your words mean the world to me. Thank you!

Haus Frau--
YOU rock in a major way!

Are you in DC? Oh my goodness, next time, we've gotta have coffee (and autographs!).
p.s. Yes, my man is the hotness (and you totally raised his self-esteem by pointing it out.)
p.p.s.s. Thank you for the pass on the hat!

Hahaha she really does need some hippie love! The poor dear...

Thanks, love!

Thanks so much for commenting! I'll see you at the next one. Deal?

I liked DC, but I loooove you. Move there with me?

Miss A--
It was incredible. Ooh, and I adore Vancouver! I might have to live there for a bit too. Will you take me to coffee?

I've gotta throw a "you're so fucking awesome!" back at ya, babe. Your comment cracked me the hell up. Thanks!

shallomj said...

Man, I wish I could have been there! I was stuck in rehearsals and by the time we were done all of the protesters were heading home...ran into a few on the Metro, they looked very insipred and motivated and invigorated...

Good for you for going! I can't believe the march didnt get any media attention - I looked for a mention in the newspaper and there was literally next to nothing. I guess that's a pretty good way of keeping its effectiveness to a minimum, just pretend like it didn't happen.

I've been in DC for a week and a half and already I am getting fed up with all the right-wing propaganda in the media. Reading the paper every morning makes me sick. Coming from a decidedly leftist/progressive city like Vancouver, this is very hard for me to swallow.

Anonymous said...

WOO! i wish i cold have been there. there was a small blurb about it on comcast, and when i read it was like "OH MY GOSH! WINONA WAS THERE!!!" it sounds incredible.

Irene said...

There's lots of us Vancouverites on here. . . I'm in Vancouver too! Winona, you've got to come up here. We can promise lots of friends :)

Eritia said...

Good for you. the whole thing sounds amazing.

Isabel said...

I'm so glad you were a part of that. Amazing.

daisybabie said...

Hi Winona!

Argh! I wish I had been keeping up to date with reading my fave blogs, yours being right at the top of that list. I would have read about your endeavors sooner and would have provided my support in anyway possible. I don't think I heard about the march in the news here in Chicago either. Alas, I saw that utube clip and felt such anger and frustration, I was shaking. I'm glad you went to the rally. I know a really good friend of mine who supports and trusts the prez and his cronies blindly. Recently I totally went off on her, mostly venting my anger, anger at the whole situation and the people who accept these happenings surrounding our government as perfectly fine and acceptable. ARGH!

Well, I am SO glad you participated and posted about it. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

(I have decided to stop lurking.) Props lady-for doing something brave and beautiful. I'm sad that there wasn't more media coverage-goodness knows that there was plenty when downtown SF was having nightly protests.
Peace Girl.

one day our generation
is gonna rule the population
so we keep on waiting on the world to change

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