Washington, D.C. - As I pulled my car into the parking lot of the "New Carrollton" metro station, just northeast of our nation’s capital, around 9:30 AM, on Sept. 24, 2005, I knew it was going to be a great day! The place was already mobbed with Anti-War protesters carrying all kinds of flashy banners, signs and posters indicating their opposition to the Iraqi War. From New Carrollton, it is only a short hop to the "Smithsonian" metro station, which is right on the National Mall and very close to the Washington Monument. A further hike by foot takes you - to the staging area for the "Bring the Troops Home Now," rally: the Ellipse.
When I reached the Mall, which runs on a mostly east to west line from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, I saw a sea of people emerging from every direction onto its still green lawns. I headed for the Washington Monument, where the sponsoring organization, the "United for Peace & Justice" organization, had set up a temporary village of tents "designed to connect grassroots activists with a wide array of organizations and campaigns." (1)
I then trotted over to the Ellipse, where I heard George Galloway, a member of the British Parliament, give a talk. A splendid Scot, he’s a fierce opponent of the Iraqi War and of George Bush’s poodle, the UK's Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Recently, Galloway had engaged in a series of debates over the war with Christopher Hitchens, a right-wing ranter and shameless basher of the late Mother Teresa. I watched the NYC debate on cable and I think it’s fair to say that Galloway was clearly the winner of that contest.
Galloway, speaking to a huge crowd of activists, said, "There is an absolute need for your country and for my country to stand shoulder to shoulder against the war criminals -Tony Blair and George W. Bush. It is also important to demonstrate to the peoples of the world, particularly the people of the occupied world, that these criminals are not acting in our name. This is not any clash of civilizations! This is not a war between the people of the West and the people of the East. This is not between Christianity and Islam. George Bush does not represent any civilization! George Bush and Tony Blair certainly don't represent Jesus Christ and the great religion of Christianity. Christians believe in the prophets, peace be upon them. Bush and Cheney believe in the profits and how to get a piece of them. Money is their religion! And, that is what they are fighting for." (2)
Other speakers for the rally, included the Rev. Jesse Jackson. He said that America deserved "better leadership," and that the "Gulf states' policies at home and in Iraq have failed." Cindy Sheehan also spoke. She accused the Bush-Cheney Gang of being "out of control." Fred Mason, head of the MD State AFL-CIO, urged "bringing the troops home and ending the occupation." Leslie Cagan, who did a wonderful job, as a leader of the United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) organization, in preparing for this event, said, "The people on Capitol Hill need to hear from us." Brian Becker of ANSWER underscored that, "The real enemy of American people is in the White House!" Rep. Cynthia McKinney D-GA), took the opportunity, to list a litany of wrongs, she labeled as "an ill wind," that mock justice, such as: "fraud in the elections of 2000 and 2004;" "a war started on deliberately faked evidence;" "criminal neglect on 9/11;" and the "occupations of Iraq and Palestine." (3)
By around 1:15 PM, the march of the demonstrators had begun. It strolled, line after colorful line, sometimes 25 to 40 or so abreast, with many of its participants' shouting and chanting anti-war slogans; some singing away and other banging on drums of every description. From the Ellipse, they paraded north on 14 St., NW, then circled around the White House and Lafayette Park, (named after one of the heroes of the Revolutionary War's battle of Yorktown, the Marquis de Lafayette), to H St., NW. Then, they moved forward to parts of Pennsylvania Ave for a short burst, finishing up on Constitution Ave, NW - back at the starting point.
Around 3: 30 PM, a "Operation Ceasefire" concert was slated to begin near the Washington Monument. "Gold Star Mother for Peace," Cindy Sheehan was also scheduled to speak at that event. On Thursday, the 22nd, she was on Capitol Hill and attempted to see, among others, GOP honcho, Bill Frist (R-TN). Even though her son, Casey, age 24, had died fighting in the Iraqi War, on April 4, 2004, Frist arrogantly refused to meet with her. What a pitiful example of manhood he is!
As with so many anti-war rallies, since Oct. 26, 2002, only a handful of congressional members have dared to show up to support the Movement. You won't see pseudo-Liberals, such as Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) and/or Sen. Hillary R. Clinton (D-NY), at such a protest. The truth is, since they have continued to vote to fund the bloodshed, (3.6 billion as of today), they are as complicit in the warmongering of the Bush-Cheney Gang, as is the architect of the Iraqi conflict - the notorious Neocon - Paul Wolfowitz. (4)
On Sunday, Sept. 25th, organizers of the rally, UFPJ, are aiming at "building a community of resistance," by conducting workshops and training sessions and planning for a White House protest that same afternoon. On Monday, Sept. 26th, the protesters, that are still in town, will be hitting the halls of Congress and "lobbying" as many members that they can to end the war and bring the troops home. (1) Unfortunately, congressional members are rarely in their office on a Monday. The best that can be expected is a meeting with a congressional intern, who will surely smile at them, and take copious notes, which, if history is any judge, (Sen. Mikulski is unbeaten at this rotten trick), will produce a computer-generated letter from the congressperson, which will make the recipient want to puke!
I will not attempt to say how many activists were here in D.C. today protesting, I will leave that matter to the experts. What I will say is this: It was one of the most spirited events that I have attended in recent memory! Hopefully, it will lead to ending the war and bringing the troops home. I also
believe that what happened here today at this massive rally will help to create a unity-oriented movement, which will energize the American people to remove from office in the next federal election, 2006, every single lackey for the War Party, whether a Democrat or a Republican. These politicos have sold out the Republic to corporate profiteers and wire pullers. (5) And, as Cindy Sheehan put it so brilliantly on September 20th, in Baltimore, they rightly deserve to be "landslided out of office," with a chant of "Down with the Wire Pullers! Long live the Republic!"
2. The remarks of George Galloway, MP, can be found on a video, here: http://homepage.mac.com/bhughes2/iMovieTheater157.html
3. The remarks of Rep. Cynthia McKinney can be found on a video, here: http://homepage.mac.com/bhughes2/iMovieTheater158.html
5. See, Chalmers Johnson's "Sorrow of Empire," and http://www.worldpolicy.org/projects/arms/updates/081203.html
© William Hughes 2005.
William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘’No’ to the War Party” (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at email@example.com.