The Eagles And The Vultures
By Rick Moran Posted in Protests | Spotlight Blogs | War — Comments (26) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
History ended yesterday. Or at least one version of it. Or perhaps it didn't end as much as it was overthrown, trampled by the feet of 30,000 ordinary Americans who gathered on the mall and along the broad avenues in Washington to confront those who have, either wittingly or witlessly, given aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States for more than 40 years.
The rancid ideology that has swaggered across the American landscape since Viet Nam (posturing a moral superiority they never proved nor deserved) as ordinary Americans looked on with a growing sense of outrage was quite simply, shown up - bested by an amalgam of military veterans, conservative activists, and just plain folks whose numbers shocked the media, not to mention the anti-everything protestors from the other side.
Read on . . .
I can't come up with anything similar that has occurred in recent American history. During World Wars I and II there were massive rallies for war bonds but that was something else entirely. This was a protest to counter defeatism and the ideology of self-loathing that has had the national stage pretty much to itself for a generation or more. And it showed that while many Americans have no doubt been disheartened and discouraged by what has been happening in Iraq these last 4 years, there is still a considerable number of us who believe it worthwhile to continue the mission in that bloody country until the Iraqis are able to secure their future free from the threat of terrorists and rogue militias.
God, how I wish I could have been there:
As war protesters marched toward Arlington Memorial Bridge en route to the Pentagon yesterday, they were flanked by long lines of military veterans and others who stood in solidarity with U.S. troops and the Bush administration's cause in Iraq. Many booed loudly as the protesters passed, turned their backs to them or yelled, "If you don't like America, get out!"
Several thousand vets, some of whom came by bus from New Jersey, car caravans from California or flights from Seattle or Michigan, lined the route from the bridge and down 23rd Street, waving signs such as "War There Or War Here." Their lines snaked around the corner and down several blocks of Constitution Avenue in what organizers called the largest gathering of pro-administration counter-demonstrators since the war began four years ago.
The vets turned both sides of Constitution into a bitter, charged gantlet for the war protesters. "Jihadists!" some vets screamed. "You're brain-dead!" Others chanted, "Workers World traitors must hang!" -- a reference to the Communist newspaper. Some broke into "The Star-Spangled Banner" as war protesters sought to hand out pamphlets.
Not very elevating dialogue but the point was made. And taking into consideration what was coming from the other side, the pro troops gathering sounded positively rational:
40 years ago there was a march on the Pentagon and here we are 40 years later with a march on the Pentagon and another illegal and immoral war.
I don't want to be marching when I'm 90 years old in 2047 in another illegal and immoral war.
Let's stop this Bullsh*t, now!
Do you know why our countires get into these bullsh*t wars all of the time?
It's for the corporations!
It's for the corporations like Halliburton and Exxon and Blackwater and to make them rich.
It's to line the pockets of George Bush and Dick Cheney and all the war criminals...
That was from Mother Sheehan, Goddess of Peace, Catalyst for the Anti-War Movement, and certifiable loon.
And speaking of the anti-war "movement," the last couple of gatherings they've had have gotten progressively smaller. Is this the best they can do?
Organizers, who had predicted tens of thousands of marchers would demonstrate, gave estimates ranging from 15,000 to 30,000. Police no longer provide official estimates of crowd size but informally put it at 10,000 to 20,000, with a smaller but sizable contingent of counter-protesters.
War protest leaders said a large winter storm that hit the Northeast hurt turnout. More than 60 bus loads of protesters who had been scheduled to come from the region canceled their trips Friday night, according to Brian Becker, national coordinator for the Answer Coalition, the event's main sponsor.
Oh yeah? I guess the weather only stops you if you're not committed enough:
It was quickly apparent that the weather had not prevented counter-demonstrators, many in black leather motorcycle jackets, from showing up in force and surrounding all sides of the Wall.
But demonstrating in favor of war? I think that much too simplistic and I believe those who stood in the cold would agree. Showing support for the troops, their mission (which includes reconstruction and training the Iraqi army and police among other non combat elements), and yes, the war policies of the Administration were the main reasons given for the outpouring.
But even more basic than that was a desire to challenge the moral primacy of the "Blame America First" lobby whose unfettered access to and sympathy from the media these many years has made it seem as if passion and commitment were the sole province of the left and those that believe that America is usually on the side of the angels were condemned to silently endure the lies, the distortions, the outright calumnies emanating from the dirty necked galoots who fill up the streets in protest on a regular basis.
As much as it can be said that anti-war protests give aid and comfort to the enemy, the reverse should be true; that by coming out in such huge numbers, the pro troops demonstration should give heart to the Iraqi people and cause the insurgents a bit of discomfort. At the very least, it should prove to the American people that not everyone has lost hope that a positive outcome can be achieved in Iraq. Perhaps giving heart to the American people will be the lasting benefit of this "Gathering of Eagles."
It's certainly given me some heart. And made me proud to be an American.
Michelle Malkin is all over this story, of course. She was there snapping pictures and getting reaction from the participants.
But this morning, she points to the way the demonstration was portrayed in the New York Times. In short, there's no way around it but to say that the Times lied - and not very well at that:
As they gathered before the march, the protesters met what several veterans of the antiwar movement described as an unusually large contingent of several hundred counterdemonstrators. Many were veterans in biker jackets who said they had come to protect the nearby Vietnam Memorial, citing rumors that had circulated among veterans groups that the demonstrators planned to deface it.
Crossing the bridge toward the Pentagon, the marchers met another group of about 50 counterdemonstrators by the Arlington Cemetery, one holding a sign that said: “Go to hell traitors. You dishonor our dead on hallowed ground.”
I linked above to the WaPo article that also undercounts the demonstration but at least acknowledges "several thousand" not several hundred as the Times reports.
And what about the protestors lining the route of the march to the Pentagon? Thousands of people that the New York Times decided not to count.
Non people at a non event if you're a reader of the New York Times.
And this from John Lilyea, proprietor of the whimsically named This Ain't Hell:
In my opinion, this Gathering of Eagles rally has done more for the healing of the wounds these veterans have been burdened with for forty years than any wall or memorial could ever. It was if they’d finally been given the opportunity to face their oppressors. There were no sorrowful stares, no sympathetic words. It was all smiles and laughter.
All of those years of anger that had been bottled up was directed against their common enemy - moral and intellectual laziness. The world had to listen to them, the citizens who had sacrificed and paid the price and came home to the disapproval of the citizens who had never spent an uncomfortable moment in their lives.
One veteran told me, “We’re here because those guys who are fighting in Iraq deserve better than what we got when we came home. No one stood up for us, but by God, we’re standing up for them. And if we don’t, who will?”
Welcome home, brothers.