Left: "Brady," warming up the crowd
Tonight I covered a rally for anti-war protesters, but for a tangential reason (read Wednesday's Toledo Free Press for that story). I am still trying to sort out this event; I am not sure whether to laugh, cry, or sink into a deeper level of cynicism after witnessing this event.
Over a hundred well-intentioned people gathered in the parking lot of UT's Rocket Hall to send off two busloads of protesters who will join the huge DC rally this weekend. The crowd was a blend of sixtyish ex-hippies, hemp-wearing coeds, and assorted peace activists and radicals.
Vendors hawked the Socialist Worker, the Final Call (Farrakhan's publication), and others passed out flyers for every group between NOW and Reform Ohio Now. A folk band played classic protest songs, and people milled about waiting for the busses.
Several thoughts came to me as I snapped photos and talked to people. I was first struck by what I perceived to be a small turnout; if the polls can be trusted, there are surely more people against this war. Why are we so apathetic?
I also questioned the money being spent on this endeavor. If sixty Toledoans are spending $400 on this trip (no matter how well-intentioned), how could that $24,000 have been spent locally to improve life right here? Will their presence in DC change anything?
Is this, in the words of one person I spoke with tonight, just "political tourism" designed to make the participants feel better?
Note: I am against the war in Iraq, and have been since day one. I also do not question the motives of the participants.
But will anything be accomplished? Will our soldiers be more likely to return home?