Looking More Like It
No, I'm not advocating civil disobedience. "It," in this case, refers to a more determined and evocative opposition -- which comes through in the images of this weekend's antiwar protest in D.C.
If you're looking for fervor, take this image that accompanied the absolutely trivial and condescending article in the NYT as an example.
It's a shot that contains news value as well as historical allusions. The gas masks and the show of manpower speaks of current confrontation or threat -- as well as the memory of it from the Vietnam era. If you take the Code Pink protesters out of the background, the protester's jeans, jacket and long hair, paired with the policeman with the crew cut, makes it look like, well, 1967.
Compared to the demonstration in Washington this past February, this one was considerably smaller. Reading the images, however, I'd say this one was much more significant. (For a summary of the event -- and a a rare piece of MSM protest coverage that is nostalgic, informative and inspired, check out WAPO's profile, "Theater of Battle With A Familiar Script.")
So, what made this weekend's protest more effective and significant than previous events?
For one thing, it played off two simultaneous milestones, the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war and the as well as the fortieth anniversary of the first major antiwar protest of the Vietnam war.
Just as in '67, protesters marched from the National Mall, across the Memorial Bridge, to the Pentagon. Besides tying the two illegal wars together in time, this march -- as compared to the January event, which focused on the Capitol and an appeal to Congress -- more effectively directly targeted the Administration and its war machine.
What comes through in the visual coverage is the sense that the national mood is shifting from disaffection to opposition, and from disillusionment to frustration and anger.
Although the confrontation this weekend was mild, protesters made the point that patience is running thin.
Besides further evidence of exasperation, this last comparison demonstrates the growing split, and open opposition to the war among veterans.
In the top shot, a marine lashes out at anti-war vets. The bottom photo, on the other hands, reflects the growing solidarity among Iraqi vets -- both current and retired -- in drawing the line. The soldier second from the left in the bottom pic is Marine Corporal Cloy Richards. His mother, Tina Richards is the one who recently confronted Rep. David Obey over the Congressman's degree of commitment to stopping the war.
Overall, its a picture of emotions rising, and opposition hardening.
(image 1: Michael Temchine for The New York Times. March 17, 2007.nytimes.com. image 2: Nicholas Kamm/AFP. March 17, 2007. via YahooNews. image 3: Members of the military police keep back Vietnam War protesters during their sit-in on October 21, 1967, at the Mall Entrance to the Pentagon. via: National Archives (ARC identifier #530618). Caption/image via halfvalue.com. image 4: Brendan Smialowski/AFP. March 17, 2007. via YahooNews. image 5: Pentagons riot. October 1967. usmarshals.gov. image 6: Marvin Joseph/Washington Post. March 17, 2007. washingtonpost.com. image 7: Alex Wong / Getty Images. Mar 17, 2007. via latimes.com)