With the marble statues of our nation’s heroes dusted with several inches of snow, Washington, D.C., was experiencing its coldest day in recent memory. Yet the elements did not deter thousands of college students from gathering on The Mall in January to protest the prospect of war in Iraq.
Concurrently, but not quite coincidentally, I was in the capital for an awards conference of the American Association of Political Consultants. (Judge 1: “I don’t know, this commercial just doesn’t seem negative enough for me.” Judge 2: “What are you talking about? Look at that excellent use of grainy photo footage. And listen to that voice-over. Talk about ominous!” Judge 1: “Sure, but the facts aren’t distorted enough. “)
Listening to the other conferees boast about torpedoing some poor fellow’s campaign with a “brilliant” last-minute attack, I couldn’t help but think that I was missing something as the rest of my generation was freezing their Abercrombies off near the Lincoln Memorial.
So as the Hardhats liked to say, if you can’t beat the snot out of war protesters, join ‘em! And off I went to join the war (protest). My tour of duty, however, would not last long.
My first mistake was to arrive at the protest march in a taxi. This really defeats the entire purpose of “marching.” Nor did coming by cab exactly endear me to my fellow protesters, many of whom walked several miles from their friends’ dorms in Georgetown while I drove over from the Park Hyatt.
Instead, consider getting dropped off outside the Smithsonian and walk through the museum to avoid leaving a trail. Also, take a moment to stretch before you start marching. You can’t just show up, grab a placard, and start chanting “DROP BUSH, NOT BOMBS”–that’s how you pull a muscle.
And allow me to offer a fashion tip for the trendy protester: leave your good shoes at home. This is a lesson I learned after my Johnson and Murphys were mugged by several dozen pairs of Birkenstocks.
I will admit I was impressed with some of the accessory choices at the demonstration. With GPS locators to track their progress and gas masks to protect them against tear gassing, today’s activists are better outfitted than their hippie predecessors. These are not your father’s war protesters.
In the end, however, it was my own wardrobe choices that led to my outing.
Dressed in a pea coat of which only Pat Nixon would have approved, I committed a protest faux pas by wearing a tie. And if that didn’t do it, the pinstripes on my creased trousers clearly indicated that I was just another Banana Republican.
Overdressed isn’t the right word, but it’s the first one that comes to mind.
Nevertheless, I did my best to be social, although there were few hors d’oeuvres to sample — stale pretzels going for $10 a pop. Eventually, I found a patch of grass where I listened to someone recommending that we “Bomb Texas because it has oil, too!” Then, I realized I was being stared at by a middle-aged woman for whom this was not her first anti-war rally.
“What are you doing here?” she interrogated. “You don’t belong here! Who are you working for . . . the CIA?”
“Listen lady, I’m just trying to hear this speech,” I pleaded.
“No, you don’t belong here. Who wears cuff links to a rally?” she accused.
“I have a dinner to go to later,” I began to explain, but the nervous glances I was getting from the other protesters told me it was time to go. I had to leave anyway. A cocktail hour began at six.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire