Roger L. Simon

Yesterday's War Protest - Why Nobody Came

The ironically named Right Wing Nut House asks “Where is Everyone?” with regards to yesterday’s anti-war demonstration in Washington, saying that he was too young to go in Vietnam days, but wanted to.

Well, I was at those Vietnam demonstrations, several of them, as well as the March for Jobs and Freedom and other civil rights demonstrations. In those days, as RWNH indicates, demonstrating was cool. And it should have been. It was the right thing to do … sometimes anyway … at least on the civil rights side.

Now is another matter.

Yesterday’s demonstrations were a disaster from the organizing point of view, although the press won’t come out and admit it. Hardly anybody showed up. The Washington police no longer give attendance estimates – who can blame them – but from my memory of crowd configurations on the National Mall, this one looked puny indeed in the photos. The NYT said “tens of thousands” converged on the Mall, which is a common press euphemism for ten or twenty thousand. It looked more like the former. But even given the latter, that’s an horrendous showing . You could get more people for a Little League game.

Of course the usual suspects were there – Jesse Jackson (what else does he have to do?), Sean Penn and Jane Fonda, making her triumphant return to the protest scene. In some television footage, I heard Fonda telling the crowd we should stay away from Iraq because they were an “older culture we couldn’t understand” or some such. The idiocy of those remarks from a “feminist” boggles the mind. But, hey, she wore a nice coat.

So why did nobody show?

Maybe, deep down or not so deep down, the American public realizes the problems of our time are not remotely like Vietnam and the comparisons to that war being made by these aging protesters (Dick Gregory?) have nothing to do with the world situation and everything to do with them. Whatever one thinks about the War in Iraq, the situation we are in now – the global rise of Islamism, which is quickly overtaking Europe and has, as we all know, reached our own shores in a way Vietnam never did – is a hugely serious phenomenon with drastic consequences for our civilization (although evidently not for Jane Fonda). These jejune protesters have no answer for that, nor do they even mention it. If they did, they wouldn’t be protesting and they wouldn’t be on TV.