San Francisco "Anti-War" Rally: The New Communist/Truth/Jihad Alliance
On March 20, a coalition of communist groups, 9/11 "Truth" activists and anti-Israel extremists gathered in San Francisco to protest against -- well, just about everything.
The event was in theory an "anti-war" rally timed to coincide with the seventh anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, but since that war is basically over, the anti-war movement now has not only evaporated almost completely but has also lost its focus, as a plethora of tangential issues and petty gripes have taken center stage.
And so, without the veneer of faux-pacifism to disguise the protesters' true feelings, one stance has emerged as the unifying philosophy:
The glory days of the 21st-century anti-war movement were in 2003 and 2004, when tens of thousands of naive "average Americans" would show up at each anti-war event. Then, as I documented extensively over the years at zombietime, far-left and extremist groups quickly seized control of the movement and tried to lead the middle-of-the-road protesters leftward politically. But as the radicalism escalated with each successive protest, the sane people all stopped coming, the rallies started getting smaller and smaller, and from 2004 onward it's been a continuous downward slide.
Now we've reached rock bottom. Only a couple thousand people showed up for this year's protest, all of whom were hardcore radicals. Gone are the naive hangers-on, or anyone in the central 98% of the political spectrum. All that's left of the anti-war movement are the revolutionaries, the diehards and the crazies.
When I say that the rally was composed of "communist groups, 9/11 'Truth' activists and anti-Israel extremists," I'm not exaggerating or mischaracterizing the nature of the participants. These people are stone-cold, self-admitted and unapologetic communists. And in equal numbers, Truthers who think the United States perpetrated 9/11 intentionally. And jihad-sympathizers who want Israel to disappear.
Below, I present the photographic evidence proving the presence and dominance of these three groups, along with a new emerging class: people disappointed in and angry with Obama (for being insufficiently left-wing). And at the end of this report we'll see some other reports of a similar rally in Los Angeles that mirrored this one almost exactly in every respect.
But before we get to these "theme sections," let's take a quick tour among the unaffiliated San Francisco eccentrics.
Many of the protesters presented very persuasive and carefully thought-out arguments against the war. For example, this woman really got me to thinking with her message that "War Is Stupid! Stupid!!"
And how can you argue with the logic of "Military Industrial Bullshit!!"?
I weep for my country.
There's naiveté, but this is something way beyond mere naiveté. What's the word I'm looking for? Idiocy?
Speaking of terminal naiveté: Give Iraq back to whom? Saddam Hussein's corpse? Haven't the Iraqis by now had several elections leading to democratic self-government -- which was the whole point behind our intervention in the first place? Or do we just hand it over to the Islamists and former Ba'ath Party fascist henchmen so the Iraqis can spend another 40 years in a totalitarian hell? No, this is not naiveté; this is malevolence.
Not everyone on the left side of the spectrum is in favor of revoking "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and of allowing gays to serve openly in the military. These folks oppose gays serving in the military -- because they don't want anyone to serve in the military. Interestingly, they're also against gay marriage -- because they hate marriage of any kind, as their Web site explains: "We do not think queers or straights should be in the military of a society like the u.s., or probably any government, and we feel that the queer liberation position is to oppose marriage as the central institution of patriarchy, not to try to get married ourselves."
During a speech by a particularly belligerent black nationalist, a blonde woman in the crowd became very excited and started throwing up gang signs and giving the black power salute.
To make her tattoo more visible, I've flipped the photo upside-down and zoomed in on her arm, on which are tattooed the words "Thug Life 666."
When they said "It takes all kinds," they weren't kidding.
The rally was put together by ANSWER, a communist/Islamist revolutionary group. On stage you can see the two main organizers, Richard Becker (in the black cap holding the mike) and Palestinian activist Jess Ghannam (with the sunglasses and kaffiyeh).
Daniel Ellsberg showed up too, and gave an embarrassing speech about how great the anti-war protests of the '60s were, and how we should copy their success. Some people just remain frozen in time.
(Notice, also, the La Raza militia member behind him.)
Ellsberg brought along with him a large contingent of several hundred SEIU labor activists to whom he had been speaking at a separate event. They gladly joined the rally, but their presence confused the issue of whether this was a protest against the current American power structure or in affirmation of it.
But not to worry! Code Pink says "relax."
Don't poke the sleeping giant. You might not like what he does when he awakes.
Communists, Truthers, Israel-Bashers, Obama Ex-Fans
And so we come to the evidence for my statement that the rally was little more than a mini-convention for four groups which seem to have little in common but which rely on each other to supply warm bodies and thus the appearance of greater popularity. A rally of nothing but devoted communists would look embarrassingly small, as would a rally of nothing but Truthers, or a rally of Israel-haters. But if you hold a single event like this one for the newly forged communist/Truth/jihad alliance, then you can get a fairly decent-sized crowd (if you consider 2,000 people decent). Toss in the Obama ex-fans and you've got an instant party!
Let's take a look at each faction in turn:
There were at least 13 different communist political factions co-sponsoring the rally, and various unaffiliated fellow travelers. And by "communist," what I mean is "communist," such as...
...The International Bolshevik Tendency...
...The Party for Socialism and Liberation...
...The Revolutionary Communist Party...
...The Humanist Workers for Revolutionary Socialism...
...The International Communist League...
...The ever-so-mild Marxist-Humanists...
...The Socialist Organizer, who, true to their name, were very organized...
...The Revolutionary Workers Group...
...The Industrial Workers of the World, better known as "Wobblies"...
...The Freedom Socialist Party...
...the Marxist/Anarchist Haymarket Books...
...World Can't Wait (an offshoot of the Revolutionary Communist Party)...
...and any number of wildcat individual communists, such as this famous local anti-Semite who for once toned down the Jew-hate and instead focused on politics...
...and a group of younger activists who deemed it wise to parade around with a Soviet flag.
Truthers were one of the dominant contingents in the march after the rally.
Truthers were stationed with huge banners right next to the main stage -- with the permission of the rally organizers.
Truther booths lined the concourse at the center of the rally.
They were far and away the most popular booths; people crowded around soaking up more Truth throughout the day.
The Truther movement is mature enough to now have a variety of specialty sub-movements, such as "Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth."
You just knew this convergence was bound to happen sooner or later: Truthism and Climate Change.
Truth banners were everywhere.
Some made more sense than others.
Many of the audience members patiently listening to the communist claptrap spouted from the main stage were actually more interested in Truth.
Why didn't you tell me this before? If Cindy believes, then I'm convinced!
This guy has become a fixture at Bay Area rallies in recent years -- same hair, same glasses, same sign, same everything.
One of the reasons Truthism has grown so popular is that it is so forgiving as an ideology -- any and all ancillary beliefs are accepted, regardless of the kook factor.
The flipside of his sign is just as entertaining.
After a while, it all began to blend together -- Truth, socialism, pacifism, conspiracy thinking -- coalescing into a unified belief system.
The most popular article of clothing at the rally was this shirt which read, "Is it really OK if Obama does it?" around a big bomb called "OBOMBA."
It seemed like everywhere I turned, someone was wearing one.
Was it a coordinated plan, or has disappointment in Obama grown to such an extent that everyone just happened to show up wearing the same shirt?
Mostly the crowd was angry that Obama didn't instantly end all wars, as promised.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Some LaRouchite cult members showed up with Obama-Hitler signs. Will the Left now be accused of bigotry, intolerance and hate crimes because someone who showed up at their rally put a Hitler mustache on the President? Signs point to "No."
This was quite an interesting discussion, as a hyper-self-confident LaRouchite tried to explain to an Obama fan why the president needs to be impeached. I had a feeling that, at conversation's end, not many minds had been changed.
As always at these leftist rallies, Israel was singled out for the protesters' irrational fury. The Israel-haters have now settled on a consistent narrative: Israel is committing genocide and a new Holocaust against Palestinians.
Needless to say, the accusation is completely baseless, an outrageous lie.
What was once merely a metaphorical comparison has now become a direct literal accusation: Israel is repeating the Holocaust, this time as the perpetrators.
Not only is Israel committing genocide, but the U.S. is too, against...ummmm...against...against Mumia!
Of out which woodwork do these people crawl?
Ali Abunimah (the person quoted on the sign) is a Paestinian-American activist who claims that Obama is secretly pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel, but that he kept his views secret during the campaign in order to get elected.
Considering recent diplomatic developments, maybe Ali Abunimah was at least telling the truth about something!
This large banner dominated the central area of the rally.
The ever-popular Dome-of-the-Rock-cape is back in style.
Various people paraded around with Palestinian flags.
And, as always, the International Solidarity Movement was on hand to recruit human shields for Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Back to our regularly scheduled non-thematic programming.
During the march, I hung out (as is my usual practice) with the Code Pink contingent. By now they probably think I'm a regular member! If only they knew.
One of my fellow Code Pinkers had every base covered.
OK, now don't go blaming me for this: Someone brought along their dog named "Barak."
During the march, a grand total of three counter-protesters showed up to declare their support for America. A small group surrounded them and briefly heckled them, but mostly they were ignored as irrelevant.
Someone had created and put on display several upside-down flags condemning "The United Snakes of AmeriKKKa."
"Obummer is Dick Cheney's Cuz." Heh.
See you next year!
The Los Angeles Anti-War Rally
The rally in San Francisco was only just one of several rallies being held on the same day around the country. Fellow photojournalist site Ringo's Pictures covered the Los Angeles edition:
Interestingly, in his report Ringo notes the exact same crowd compostion in L.A. as I saw in S.F., namely communists, Truthers, Israel-bashers, and people disappointed in Obama. It seems to be a consistent trend nationwide. But there was something extra in Los Angeles which far exceeded anything on display in San Fransisco: jaw-dropping overt anti-Semitism. Here's just a sampling of Ringo's pictures from the Los Angeles rally: