Yesterday was the Answer LA sponsored march from Hollywood and Vine to Hollywood and Highland, about six blocks, all told. A friend of mine and I got some really great footage, and interviewed some interesting people. We passed out about 60 fliers highlighting our group and prompting interest and thought with the question: What is your American dream? There were some incredibly dedicated and devoted citizens out there marching for change.
Now that all the positives are clear, let me get down to the negatives. Over all, it was crap. Let me explain why:
6 blocks on empty streets is not enough. The only people reading those signs and hearing those slogans are the people already there and the cops paid to be there. Many protesters used images and hearkened back to times like Vietnam, Civil Rights, 8 hr. work day, etc. Those were all more than 40 years ago. There has been no significant new legislation in over 40 years. Those people effected change because they walked past the barricades and made law makers uncomfortable. It's easy to ignore what you can't see and don't hear about. There were no big news people there and as I said, the streets were barracaded for blocks and blocks surrounding the protest. People wore shirts with peace signs, tie-die signs and all I could think is "what's new?" The Vietnam Era CREATED ideas, thoughts, demands that we're only recycling, and not even recycling in a productive way.
All the protesters stayed neatly inside the assigned areas, waving their signs and speaking their slogans, as if they were at a nice event put on by a friend that they'd later refer to as "lovely." The march was not organized, or streamlined. People were carrying signs and mock coffins, but in no orderly fashion. Everyone there had a separate agenda. I spoke with anarchists, socialists, communists, veterans, feminists, latinos, palestinians, all with separate goals and reasons for being there. That's fine, but when everyone is shouting something different, when everyone is pushing their own ideologies instead of a common goal, it becomes a shit storm of nonsense as opposed to an actual protest. A bystander asked what the march was protesting. I looked at him and said, take your pick. It made everyone there look like a complete idiot. Not only are we marching to no one but we're also marching for nothing. The only point in the whole protest that I felt emboldened was when the mother of a dead soldier came up to the mic and complained that this was not enough, that she'd been going to protests for 6 years since her son's death and nothing was changing, we needed to step it up. So, the people in the first few rows started shouting "step it up" while the people behind continued with whatever drivel they'd thought up.
Another thing that truly bothered me was that there were no American flags. What country are you supposedly fighting to change? The coffins were all draped with Iraqi and Palestinian flags. My friend asked me, "What about my friends that died?" No one seemed to have an answer for that. I had my customary American flag wrapped around my face and the only thing I got was "Why are you wearing that?" Well, first of all, it's our flag. Secondly, it marks the metaphor of how this march is reaching no one, how people that genuinely care for this country are not allowed to voice their opinions. Every true form of protest is illegal in this country. I don't wanna pour gasoline on a dying flame, but fucking come on! Wave your flag and be proud of it. Go out into the streets and protest without asking corporate government if it's ok with them.
So many people at that rally seemed more concerned with freeing Palestine and waving Iraqi flags, it makes me wonder if they even mentally live in this country. The Palestine/Israel conflict is none of our business. It is not our place to choose sides. These people choose sides merely because the American government chose the opposite. They are no farther above the left/right rift than the lobbyists and pundits in Washington D.C. I agree, let's get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and all the other countries we push our way into. Let's concentrate on our own issues, our own problems.
What I was hoping from this march was a form of togetherness, of moving forward, but all I got was a bunch of divisive groups, using the blocked off streets as an excuse to come and voice their opinions to empty streets and deaf ears.
The main good that came from this march is that it revitalizes my belief and my need to continue with this group and this idea of unified forward movement. If you're a socialist, fine. If you're a feminist, fine. If you're latino, fine. But if we want anything to get done, we have got to pick some issues, and goals and fight for them. It will take time, it will take hard work, but it will be worth it, if we can unite as one people and fight for what we deserve, what we believe in. It is better to move slowly in a deliberate direction than to move quickly in all directions. See you there.