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Bring Home The Troops - Send In The Protestors

Stateside: Rosalea's War Diary

Bring Home The Troops - Send In The Protestors

Gmng, gmng, gmng! I'll say one thing about this war - it's getting me into some very good habits. I walked up Market Street to school again last night because it didn't look like a bus would be coming any time soon, on account of a protest march. On the way I passed a chap with a map giving instructions to some bicycling protestors about which intersections to scurry to and from.

The first business day of the war, people were urged to call in sick to school and work and go to San Francisco to disrupt the business district. There had been some disruption in the morning, but it seems that most people went to work (me included) and tagged out some other milder form of protest to participate in. Many Bay Area cities had peace rallies and candlelight vigils in the evening.

During a break in class one of my fellow students called her husband who told her that the area around the entrance to the Civic Center Bart station was in turmoil, but by the time class ended it was OK. The last half of class had been conducted to the accompaniment of a helicopter patrolling over downtown San Francisco, and it was still overhead as we walked to the station. The Starbucks in the hotel opposite the station entrance had its windows boarded up, presumably done in anticipation of damage as someone had seen them doing it much earlier in the evening.

The newspaper headlines in the morning had been "War", "It's war", "War's on" - predictable big black headlines. In the evening one paper had a big red "Extra Edition" across the top and "SF gridlocked" in those same big black letters beneath. Turns out 1400 protestors were arrested, after successfully stuffing up the commute. Whoever organized this should be drafted. The war would be over in a couple of days. For some of the more interesting sidelights, you could look at http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/03/21/MN106172.DTL

Dissent is a way of life here, of course. On the rock radio show I listen to, a number of callers this morning were sympathetic to the protestors but angry at the inconvenience they had caused to them personally. One protestor called in and said that if people had phoned in sick like they were asked to, the protest wouldn't have been a problem for them. Sitting for two hours in traffic seems a small price to pay if you really do want the strength of the opposition of this war to be known in the hopes of stopping it.

War is not a spectator sport, but you'd think it was. Radio and newspapers yesterday analysed how television had handled the damp squib of the opening salvos. I overheard one person who'd just left the peace rally in Berkeley say: "This is the most boring war coverage I've seen." Gee, hell. Nobody being torn limb from limb by lions? No war correspondent getting blown away in front of your very eyes as you sit in your bean bag and toke on a joint? That sucks, man.

Francis Ford Coppola was on the radio this morning talking about an event he cooks for each year for the homeless in North Beach, the SF suburb where he lives. Asked about his stance on the war he said that he's neither a hawk nor a dove, but an owl. Force is necessary sometimes, he said, to avert worse consequences. Better to have a war now than in four years' time when it would be a nuclear war.

After his interview, the announcer read the news, including an item saying the US military expects the war to be over soon. Even as he finished reading that, he was handed a different story, this time from the White House, reiterating that the war would go on longer than expected. If the military has the ability to finish it quickly then they should, and not be beholden to a political agenda that demands dragging the war out. There's nothing Bush would like better than for the unions to start refusing to load ships bound for the war zone, which would put the Democrats in a seriously awkward position.

ENDS

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