September 28, 2002

50,000 PEOPLE ARE DEMONSTRATING IN LONDON AGAINST WAR: Though the press accounts probably won’t make a lot of this point, that’s less than 1/8 as many as demonstrated against a ban on fox-hunting last weekend. (And the foxhunting crowd was, um, more striking in ways other than mere numbers). I think that means the antiwar protests deserve less than 1/8 the attention.

UPDATE: London reader James Killmond sends this firsthand report:

I had planned to meet some friends at a pub on Whitehall today at 2 pm. When I heard about the march I checked the route, and, of course, I was going to be right in the thick of it. In an exercise of wishful thinking I told myself that since the march started near Whitehall at 12:30 and speeches would be given in Hyde Park starting at 3, the crowd would have cleared out by the time I showed up.

Silly me, as if anybody would in a big hurry to see Red Ken Livingston speak. Many folks were still hanging out near Whitehall when I arrived (luckily the pub wasn’t closed). It was a fair sized march, and I would not dispute a 50,000 estimate. I would dispute AP’s characterization of the crowd as “Britons of all regions, ages and social backgrounds”. There were a startling number of self-identified Arabs. I also note that the AP report soft pedals the pro-Palestine bent of the marchers. Pro-Palestine signs dominated anti-war signs by a large margin.

Hmm. Let’s see if that gets pointed out in the other press coverage.

UPDATE: Not here, though this article does note that similar protests in Rome were organized by the Communist Party. Go figure. More interestingly, opposition to war is reported to be trending downward in Euro polls.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The article linked at the top has been updated as of 4:18pm ET to show an official crowd size of 150,000. So I guess the protests should get one-third as much attention. . . .

ONE MORE UPDATE: Magnus Berhnardsen emails: “Uh… the date was chosen because of the two year anniversary of the Al-Aqsa intifada.” I guess that this isn’t really a peace march, then — it’s an anti-Israel march with a few useful idiots following along with peace signs. But that’s usually what these things turn out to be, isn’t it?

If you want to save some time, you can just read this for a survey of the arguments.

THE LAST UPDATE, I SWEAR: James Killmond emails: “So I guess Magnus has explained the profusion of giveaway Al-Aqsa tshirts that I saw everywhere. Nice.”