Last Saturday’s antiwar demonstration in Hollywood sponsored by International ANSWER featured a large placard emblazoned with the words “Stop the Fourth Reich, Visualize Nuremberg!” Mug shots of ten Americans, all of them bedecked in Nazi uniforms, were labeled as follows: “Pro-Life Executioner, Mind-Control Slave” (President Bush); “The Fuehrer, Already in His Bunker” (Vice President Cheney); “Field Marshall Rummey” (Donald Rumsfeld); “House Negro, Fakes Left, Moves Right” (Colin Powell); “Faith-Based Fascist, Sexless Sadist” (John Ashcroft); “Propaganda Minister” (Karl Rove); “Minister of Dis-Info” (“Ari Goebbels”); “Will Kill Africans for Oil” (Condoleezza Rice); “We Distort, You Decide” (Bill O’Reilly), and “Jews for Genocide” (“Chickenhawk Wolfowitz”).
“It’s a harsh condemnation of these people,” admitted the man holding the sign, although his female companion quickly insisted, “If you know your history, it’s not.” “No, it’s not,” he agreed. He claimed, “Just like the last world domination attempt this is an unprovoked war. We’re starting it, we don’t have to. The United Nations was designed to stop the scourge of war. And yet the Bush Administration has a little token event, and they say they are going to go through the United Nations, and they say no, we’re going to start the war when these people are 12,000 miles away and their own neighbors don’t even feel they’re a threat….” The real motive is? “Oil and world domination.”
The man offered his perception of US foreign policy generally, “We go from country to country, and we support dictators. We don’t support democracies…. We only like democracies that vote the way that our corporations like it, and right now it is not ‘of the people, by the people, for the people,’ it’s like the little sign here says, it’s on the back, the American flag upside down as a sign of distress, ‘Of the Enron, By the Bush, For the Haliburton.’” As for the US treatment of other nations, “We don’t want the people to live. We want to extract all their resources from them. And you know, yes, that’s why we are so wealthy. The truth of the matter is the sad but realistic part of history is that this country is not so wealthy because God wanted us to be. It’s wealthy because we came over, stole the most fertile land from the Indians, and then we imported, we kidnapped millions of black people and had them work for 300 years for free…. We tried to get away from the oppression of the United Kingdom and then we started creating it on other people, and so that is sort of how it is.”
Another protester, a 30-something woman, angrily contended, “Every American should be ashamed of the actions that our government has taken, not even our government, just this squatter in the White House, the man the Supreme Court appointed….” She urged, “Every American who’s opposed to this war should have their ass out in the street, no business as usual, stop traffic, take over freeways…and stop everything in this town…San Francisco-style.” She offered her solution for the Iraq problem: “I would like to see Saddam Hussein peacefully removed from office. There is no reason to kill all these Iraqi citizens just to take out the one man. They said the war is not against Islam, it’s not against Iraq, it’s just with Saddam Hussein, so if you get him to leave peacefully” How would that be done? “there’s you know it’s always you go in and you say look you know this is a coup your own people we’re taking you out we’re just walking you away and you’re going to go to jail or you’re going to be like exiled to another country.”
The thousands of demonstrators who had gathered in front of the fabled Pantages Theater on Hollywood Boulevard for the purpose of opposing “the War Against the Iraqi People” marched five blocks for a rally around the CNN headquarters on Sunset. A young woman in the crowd explained, “I would like our Administration to stop the bombing and start negotiating.” With whom? “With whoever is in charge. We are not in charge.” Negotiation usually presumes a goal. What would be-- “With the rest of the world. The UN. And what the people want.” The people in Iraq want? “What the people want. What the world wants.” Another woman was not worried about the situation in Iraq if the US pulls out. “I think that if we leave, international diplomatic action should take care of it. I’m optimistic.” An elderly woman voiced her hope that “Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld change their minds. I don’t think what they’re doing is reasonable if only for the fact that most of the people in Iraq are children, and they aren’t going to notice any difference anyway. So you don’t think it would matter really for the people which government is in power? “Not at this time, no.”
A middle-aged man was very blunt: “Well, I just think that their reason for war is a total lie, and they’re trying to pass off this anti-terrorism shtick for just, you know, massacring an entire people.” And furthermore, “They [the US] put Saddam Hussein in power precisely because he is a dictator; they want to control the whole f--g world.” An older man was also clear about his views: “At this point the US should withdraw, the US cannot be an occupying power in the region. That’s its objective. Its sole purpose is to control access to oil.” In addition, “There needs to be some reining in of the US as empire…. The Iraqis are responsible for their own affairs in terms of whether they have a dictator or not.”
A young woman carried a sign with a large photo of 23-year old American Rachel Corrie (killed earlier this month in Gaza by an Israeli bulldozer) accompanied by the words “Resist Against All Odds, Free Palestine and Iraq.” Her demand: “Stop the sanctions on Iraq and stopping bombing them. This ‘shock and awe’ thing is just killing civilians.” Do you have any concern about the people of Iraq under Hussein? “I do, but I am more concerned about them under the US.”
What are you going to say if next week Hussein’s government falls and the people come out and are grateful that the US is there and liberated them from a dictator? A 40-something man responded: “I’m sure that there is a sector of his country that will be relieved to be out from underneath his oppression, but now [they’re] going to be faced with the long-term oppression of corporate dominance world-wide and that’s what’s happening on this planet. This planet bit by bit is going to be completely under the control and domination of corporate structure, and we have to find a new way.”
“Yes, there will always be some dissidents on both sides so I’m not surprised that there are some [who welcome the Americans],” an older woman conceded. “You even saw that on Bill Moyers’ program the other night on NOW. He had on this Iraqi dissident. The guy was so idealistic he thinks we’re going to have a democracy in Iraq. Do we have a democracy in Kuwait? You know, we will never have a democracy in any of those countries. They’re not ready for it yet.”
A college-age woman with a smile and flowing blond hair shared her perspective:
Why are you here this weekend?
“Because I don’t believe in war, and I think we shouldn’t be over there because without the UN approving it, and we have no right to be there.”
Well, now wait a minute. You don’t believe in war, but if the UN approved of war you would go for it?
You’re not in favor of any war?
You’re a pacifist?
Did you the think the US was right, that Britain was right in defending themselves against Hitler?
“That actually, I believe, he should have been stopped. The French should have stopped him in the first place.”
Pre-emptive war.“Yeah, they should have stopped him when he entered the Rheinland. That was their mistake.”