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Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2003 at 11:28 AM
an e-mailed message about the Dutch peace demonstration, send to an american friend
Or whatever your name is nowadays… how are you? How’s the family? How’s your harem? Good? Good!
Long time no see, eh? Unless, of course, your network television showed you pictures of the European peace marches of last Saturday. You might have noticed a tall blond kid walking through and have thought to yourself: ‘Isn’t that… nah, couldn’t be’. Well, it just might have. Then again, there’s no shortage of tall blond kids and I might just as well have been hidden behind a message, angrily scrawled on bed cloths to insult your head of state.
How about you, did you get out on the street the 15th? Somehow, I expect you did. Because your likely to oppose the war which Bush seems intent on. And also, you might have just for kicks or to impress some peacenik hippie girl you fancy. Am I right? Yeah, I knew it.
I went to the demonstrations for kicks, that’s for sure. Mind you, I believe in peace. I just don’t believe Bush does. I’m sure he’ll ignore the six million men on the streets all over the world. The demonstrations three days in a row in Sidney. The two million men in Madrid, capital of Bush’s lackey-state Spain. The largest demonstration in Amsterdam since the early eighties, when the Dutch protested against the placement of nuclear cruise missiles in Holland. (They’re still here. Activist went to an American military base three weeks ago, for an inspection on weapons of mass destruction.) I’m sure Bush knows of none of these facts, not knowing where Holland is in the first place. (I can’t blame him; we are an insignificant speck on the globe. Most Americans won’t know what The Netherlands are. I remember meeting Alayha and her mom in the Venice library before leaving for Holland for good. Alayha’s mom: ‘Oh, Holland, that’s a city in Germany, right’. She’s lucky she lives to tell the tale!
On my first school in America, the Beethoven Street Elementary School, they had a bunch of kids from foreign countries or whose parents were from foreign countries. So the teacher put up a map on the wall. For all the kids in the class, a little flag was put up on the country of origin. When they came to me, the teacher looked and looked and finally looked puzzled. ‘Holland, where is that?’ Teacher’s assistant: ‘Isn’t that a country by Belgium?’ ‘Oh, right, I got it.’ The Dutch like to make fun of the Belgians, but since that day, I had a true hatred of them. Don’t worry; I’ve gotten over it lately. And the Belgians hate us, too. We find them stupid, they find us loud and overbearing. A little like Americans, really.) So, if Bush doesn’t know where Holland lies, he won’t be impressed by our demonstrations. I doubt he’s impressed by any of the demonstrations. What does he care about the peoples will: he’s not even democratically elected.
So, why bother protesting? It’s just for fun. I remember the feeling I got walking toward the train station to go home. All the inner city of Amsterdam was taken over by protesters. There was no traffic, police detoured all the cars, trams didn’t drive, bikers had to get off and walk through the masses. We had taken over the city! And it wasn’t just rebellious youth of professional activist from anarchist groups or Greenpeace wussies, either. There were old people walking in the crowd. Sweet looking Muslim girls in classy black clothing were walking by. Rotten little Moroccan kids were looking for trouble. (They found none, to my surprise. I was hoping to throw some stones at the police myself. What, you don’t think I’ve got the guts?) There were Germans in our capital that came to demonstrate here because Berlin was too fucking far away. My parents were walking up front next to a controversial wife of the president of the European Central Bank who’s been called an anti-Semitic for supporting the Palestinians. My brother and a friend of his were in that crowd on the Dam Square somewhere. Old family friends were shoved around in the streets of the square, where people spilled into as the square became too crowded to fit in any more people. The estimated show-up is between 70,000 and 100,000. I know, in a city like L.A., with four million people, that number might not impress you. It sure impressed me. I’ve been in some demonstrations before. Usually, it’s about a hundred to three hundred people, shouting it out for a free Palestine, to celebrate the Islamic Revolution of Iran, to demand more rights for squatters and the poor. But this was for real. In Holland, we haven’t seen demonstrations like this since the Cold War.
And just my fucking luck, I was stuck with a girlfriend at the back, with all her thirty-something girlfriends who all had kids as well. The kids didn’t feel like waiting for over an hour on the Square to finally march, as it was below freezing. And of course, the kids didn’t seem to like me. Brats! I couldn’t hear a word our political leaders were shouting at us over the loud speakers. There was one girl at the podium up front, with a high pitched voice and an annoying intonation. I couldn’t understand her, either, but she’d get excited and scream something and the crowd would cheer and I couldn’t help thinking of a little ugly man with a small moustache and his hair pasted over his forehead sideways. Or she’d sound like a nagging mother.
At last we started walking. Now, I’m not sure if you’ve seen the Dam Square while you were here. It’s in the middle of Amsterdam. It’s the square with the big white phallus in the middle of it, remember? It’s actually a monument of the Second World War. On May 4th and 5th, we honor the memories of the fallen and rejoice in the liberation of our country. Something else happened last May, on which our attention will surely be focused again, but I’ll tell you about that later. (I might have before: did you know there was a political assassination in Holland? Let me know.)
Well, anyway: if you don’t remember the Dam Square, it’s not very big, maybe eight hundred yards across, if that. I was at the back when the crowd purportedly started moving. It took me almost an hour to get halfway, and I’m not kidding. The crowd was too big and too densely packed to move through the narrow street, a path chosen by the organization to lead us to another square, where we’d all rally for peace and then go to the nearby discotheque. (We’re willing to march for peace, as long as there is a treat at the end of the road… some commitment you can expect from these Dutchmen, eh?) And I needed to take a leak, really bad. So I took my girlfriend by the arm and shoved out to a nearby street.
Surprisingly, it was deserted by the activists. There were, on the other hand, a whole lot of ignorant people shopping. Apparently, demonstrating for peace is all fine and good, but to some people, there are more important things to do with their free Saturday afternoon. You know, I take back all those things I’ve said about Americans being so ignorant. I’m sorry, really. The Dutch are as bad, if not worse. Oh, such morons as they raise here. Rich, arrogant imbeciles. And the government is doing all it can to keep them stupid, too. They’re always cutting in the education budget, even those few years of last, when we had the best economy in our history and possibly in the world (comparatively speaking, that is) and we had more money than we could shake a stick at. I’m convinced it’s a plot to keep us all stupid and docile. And it’s working. From now on, you need money to get an education that will do you any good. I’m thinking of migrating to a sensible country, I just don’t know if there is such a place.
I cut short on streets running parallel tot the demonstration path. And I was stunned: it just went on and on and on. We were walking pretty quickly (you know how I go – poor girl, she’s really short and had a hard time keeping up) but for blocks on end there was this human snake sprawling ahead of us. No one had expected this kind of a crowd to show up. There were carts with big loudspeakers, making noise for world peace. (Did I mention I had a killer hangover? Me and two friends had inspiring thoughts and discussions the night before. And you need lots of beer to keep those trains of thought running smoothly. It’s a good thing I can’t remember any of them, so I can have them again next weekend.)
I didn’t finish the whole route. My girlfriend met her boyfriend (so, as you might gather, she’s a girlfriend, not the girlfriend), a journalist to whose office overlooking the demonstrations destination we went. I left them there because of my hangover. The demonstration had just about reached the end at that time, say, four o’clock, four-thirty. On the square Leidseplein, there was still a small crowd in front of a small stand where music was played (it sucked) but most of the activist and the old people had left or were shuffling towards the train station. There was police around, but not in riot gear. The city was filled with little peaceful groups happily reminiscing the grand day they had helped make possible. It kind of looked like a crowd of festival public, talking about which band they had enjoyed most.
My mom got burned buying hotdogs on the Dam Square. They were already eating them whilst my mom still had to pay and it turned out they had raised the prices. For some six hotdogs, my mom paid about twenty-five dollars. That’s Dutch, too: we’ll make a profit out of anything. We’d sell our mothers if there was a market for them, but unfortunately, it appears all people have mothers. Damn! We could have made a killing.
I hope you went on a march. Let me know. (Well, I hope you still check this e-mail…) I’m thinking about maybe coming to America, sometime. Not in the near future, though. I’ve got to finish my school first, figure out what I’m gonna do next, you know. And I have to get over my fear and loathing of Americans. But I might come over. Keep in touch.
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