Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Protest, Counter-protest

September 11 was as good an excuse as any for the pro-war and anti-war and 9/11 conspiracy protesters to converge on Speedway Boulevard after work today. I heard the honking and chanting we've come to expect on Saturday mornings about once a month, but it was the squawk of a bullhorn that piqued my interest enough to wander over.

Osama Loves Lefties.

The usual cast was there, with the pro-war faction arrayed along the south side of the street on the sidewalk outside the recruiting center, with an impressive number of large flags stuck in the ground at regular intervals. Some of their signs have seen a lot of wear and tear, though. This guy with the "Bin Laden Loves Lefties" sign has been showing up for a couple of years now, although I think the little blue tarp weighted down with rocks is a new touch.

I have been sorely tempted to point out to him that "lefty" ideals such as secular government, religious pluralism, and gender equality are polar opposites of Osama's system of values, but I don't think we'd get very far due to that conservative brain/liberal brain disconnect. There was also the small matter of the lady to his right; her sign read "if you can't stand behind the troops, stand in front of them."

If I'd been quicker with the camera, I would have video of the beautiful moment when a guy in a passing car whipped out his own bullhorn as he passed this group and yelled, "Kill the Arabs! We hate Arabs! Kill 'em all!" The sign-and-flag people waved triumphantly at him for the splittest of seconds before it dawned on them they'd just been owned. They grumbled to each other, but then one of their number charged the car, shouting "Say no to Communism! Communism kills!" He was quickly shushed; maybe he was confused about what he was supposed to be protesting.

Say No to Communism Man's sign, forlorn and abandoned in the parking lot.

The intersection a block to the east harbored the anti-war protesters and the 9/11 conspiracy buffs, although their big sign might have been disproportionate to the actual numbers of the latter. While the warmongers' flag display was precise and impressive, the clots of peaceniks on all four corners of the intersection had a rawer presence. Of course, it helped that the Raging Grannies were on one corner belting out songs.

The left side of the dial.

The Raging Grannies' banner, from behind.

A cacophony of horns never makes for an accurate caucus, so I couldn't tell you what the relative proportions of pro-and anti-war (and pro-Bush and pro-impeachment) folk were, although the anti-war side stuck around longer thanks to the natural advantage provided by the streetlights at their intersection. I heard a few invectives shouted from cars and trucks, like the guy who came to a stop--on Speedway--in front of three women with peace signs and said, "Why don't you suck my dick?" A Republican dick? No thanks, honey; we just don't know where that thing's been.

A couple of hours later, Speedway's quiet again except for late-night tires on pavement. Come next month and the month after that, we'll probably do it all over again.

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