I woke up this past Sunday morning and began my mission. I was planning to infiltrate the "peace" rally in San Francisco to see what I might be able to learn about how the enemy operates. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, because I knew that all major media accounts of past protests were written by journalists who preferred to march in the protests rather than write about them.
My first order of business was to try and blend in with the crowd to avoid suspicion. Wearing a J.Crew shirt, Dockers and polished shoes just wasn't going to cut it. I'd stick out like a… well, like a Republican at a commie-peacenik-America-sucks rally.
The first piece of camouflage focused on personal hygiene. I decided not to shower or shave that morning. Without thinking, I accidentally brushed my teeth though. A nice hot cup of capitalist Starbucks coffee later in the morning would help mask the sense of cleanliness, so I wasn't too worried.
Finding appropriate clothing was the toughest part. I had to dig deep into my closet to retrieve a faded t-shirt and worn out jeans. I managed to locate an old plaid shirt to wear over the t-shirt for further cover. I tried on the dirtiest looking baseball cap I could find, but it made me look more like a frat-boy than a liberal. The I-just-woke-up-and-didn't-shower hairstyle would have to do.
I decided to drive my car downtown and park a few blocks from where the rally was taking place. I could have taken the bus, I guess. But judging from the number of SUV's in the parking lots downtown, the whole "no blood for oil" thing doesn't apply to all liberals anyway.
The first thing I wanted to check out was the claim of "diversity" by the local San Francisco Chronicle. They had an article that talked about soccer moms, students, business owners and other people-next-door types who were banding together for peace. They made it seem like all types of liberals, moderates and conservatives attended these rallies, so I was a little concerned that I might run into some fellow Republicans who would blow my cover.
That concern quickly vanished. I would have had a better chance finding Republicans at a Greenpeace fundraiser than at this rally. There was certainly diversity, but it was a diversity of leftists and over-the-cliff left-wing nutjobs. I'm not saying that everyone there looked like a hippie peacenik, but you would have been hard pressed to find a single soul who had voted for Bush in the last election.
I made my way through the crowd to the beginning of Market Street in order to listen to the speakers on stage. It was here that my entire perspective on these rallies changed. While I expected to hear some tactfully formulated arguments against fighting Saddam Hussein, I got something quite different. Aside from the tired old rhetoric of "No blood for oil!", "No new war!", and "Peace, not war!", I didn't hear much of anything about the possible war with Iraq.
Instead, I heard an endless parade of speakers selling their socialist-liberal-communist propaganda like there was no tomorrow. I thought the first few speakers might be atypical, but it just kept going. I learned about homelessness, socialism, support for queer youth (their term, not mine), racism, better access for teenage abortions, freedom for convicted Cuban spies, the demise of labor unions, and the need for free dental dams and condoms.
The most amusing comment came from a speaker who called for an end to the military's don't-ask-don't-tell policy, because it was discriminatory against gays and people of color. People of color? I had no idea that the military had a policy against telling people what race you were. It must not be working very well, because Colin Powell was "outed" a long time ago as a person of color.
So, I was a little puzzled. Did I stumble across the wrong rally?
Then I started to pay closer attention to all of the rally signs around me. While there were certainly many that spoke to the evils of war and of all Republicans, I found that many, if not most, of these signs had nothing to do with war. They dealt with everything from the environment to communism to Palestine to healthy breast milk (don't ask, because I didn't quite get that one either). I saw countless Socialist Party signs, communist flags, and anti-capitalist banners. Curiously, none of that showed up in the mainstream media coverage.
Now I understood why these rallies had grown so large. The war against Saddam is a great excuse for libbies of all flavors to band together and share their hatred for Republicans in general and Bush in particular. Opposition to the war is the loose tie that binds them, but there are dozens of more important agendas that these people have in mind. I didn't hear or see one proposed solution to the Iraq situation, but I heard and saw plenty of proposed solutions to every social issue the left could dream about.
With my mission complete, I headed home to shower, shave and change into some clean clothes. Unlike the evil Saddam Hussein, I learned that this was an enemy that isn't worth fighting. No amount of evidence will convince them that military force is necessary to bring Saddam to heel, because the vast majority of these peaceniks aren't really focused on a solution to this crisis. Dental dams, condoms, communism and tree-hugging are the more important agenda items. Somehow, I don't think those are on the top of the agenda for the oppressed Iraqi people or for Saddam's bomb makers.