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New Yorkers march against the war

a special report by Lenny Quart


Lenny Quart is a regular contributor to American Studies Today Online. He lives in New York, and has sent us this report of a recent Anti-War march.

Posted 03 April, 2003
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I've just taken part in a large anti-war march in New York. And though I know it's a gesture with little political consequence--my wife and I felt it was necessary to join with other people and make public our opposition to the war. With the tabloids, networks and CNN acting as promotional organs for the war machine - repeatedly trumpeting Rumsfield's strategy of precision bombing and the military's new slogan "shock and awe", it felt exhilarating to join a crowd of 200,000 and march from Times to Washington Square. It was a sunny day, and the sight of so many marchers of all ages - including young children with their mothers, groups of high school kids, and white-haired septuagenarians - stirred me and brought back memories of the sixties and all the anti-Vietnam protests I took part in. Most of the marchers were middle class and white, but there were a number of black, brown, and yellow faces among them. There were the usual Trotskyite splinter groups with their hoary slogans and anarchist cop-fighters wearing their red bandanas. But the majority of the marchers were relatively free of ideological baggage - marching out of both a moral revulsion with the Bush war and with an American hubris that is incapable of perceiving the unforeseen and destructive consequences of our invasion.

Many of the marchers carried striking signs like: "Regime Change Begins at Home"; "Tax Cuts for the Rich, Body Bags for the Poor"; "The Ends Do Not Justify the Means", "Shock and Awe, Shame and Disgrace"; and a simple "Stop the War." We marched past a number of New York icons like Macy's department store, Madison Square Park, and Union Square, and my own personal one - the great second-hand bookstore - the Strand, while recycling old chants like "Peace Now" and "The Whole World is Watching." All along the route, most of the people watching were cheering us on from the sidewalks and the windows of buildings we passed. Of course, it was Downtown New York, not Alabama, but I was still moved by the response. 

The only thing that marred the march was that after the majority of us dispersed, a small ultra-radical group (stupidly trying to prove how radical and macho they are) stayed behind, and attacked the police with pepper spray. Some of the right-wing talk shows used it to tarnish the march, but it was still a memorable day. It was good to know, that despite all the media spin and rhetoric, there was a significant minority willing to dissent from a pre-emptive war that looks like it could plunge the world into an abyss.

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