Worldwide Anti-War Rallies
What Happened on January 18, 2003
I attended the anti-war rally and march in Washington D.C. on January 18, 2003.
It was a very large gathering -- to my eye, it seemed larger than the October 26, 2002 event that drew over 100,000 participants.
Lots of groups attended and showed great American patriotism by cautioning against wars of aggression; urging sensible energy policy; urging religious tolerance; and opposing bigotry.
The weather was cold but sunny. Drummers were drumming, dancers were dancing, thousands were chanting slogans against war. It felt good to be physically present among so many individuals who treasure and exemplify American values.
Many political parties had representatives at the rally. I saw a group holding a sign that read "Republicans for Peace." I wonder what other issues they consider more important than war, that cause them to remain Republicans.
I saw at least one Libertarian Party representative handing out literature. However, considering the size of the LP and their anti-war stance, their small presence was a disappointment.
Some Communists and some Socialists were present. I do not know why such people, who favor even larger, more concentrated, more powerful central government, do not understand that such governments make war far more likely.
I saw no official presence from the Democratic Party at all. Unlike the Republicans, no one carried a sign saying "Democrats for Peace." Oh, Democrat Congressman Conyers from Michigan was perfectly willing to speak to the crowd, but I didn't hear him apologize for his political party.
By far the strongest political party presence was that of the Green Party. The Greens had greatly increased their numbers and organization since the October anti-war rally, and showed up with large party banners. I saw groups of Greens from Washington, from Maryland, from Pennsylvania, from New Jersey, from New York, from Alabama, from Mississippi, from Louisiana, and all had large banners identifying their affiliation. The national Green Party also had a banner.
The Green Party opposes war and is proud to say so. I am happy to see it as a growing part of the American landscape.
Thousands of signs were carried by rally attenders and marchers. Some had simple messages such as "No War." Others had long statements. One notable sign was actually a three-dimensional shrine, on one side featuring a scene of corruption and decay with mainstream political parties, while on the other side displaying a better, safer world with the Green Party.
Many signs were humorous, poking fun at the enormous inconsistencies and hypocrisies of the Bush administration. Many others were clear in their understanding that the war is about oil; indeed, natural resources seem to lie at the root of all wars.
Some other signs that drew my attention:
- "Tread Softly For We Walk Upon Stolen Lands" (you might think this sign was held by a Native American, but not so -- an African American held it)
- "See Iraqi Children" -- meaning that if politicians notice Iraqi children they may be less likely to want to cause their deaths; war is real, not just a piece of paper
- My favorite, although the long message is not well-suited for a sign: "Let Universal Standards of Justice Guide Foreign Policy."
Congratulations to all the people around the world who took action against war. You people made me proud to be an American, for at least a day. And more importantly, the steps that you took have been seen all over the world and will continue to make impacts. Thank you for standing up and being counted as individuals who oppose government-sponsored killing.
Hanno T. Beck is the publisher of The Progress Report.
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