The picket sign under the red, jumbled mass read something along the lines of,
"This was not a mistake. THIS WAS MY GRANDSON!!!"
All I can do at that point in time is be grateful that Herr Meow does not read yet, as we’re assaulted by the signs we encounter during our –I thought– uneventful walk from Gallery Place Metro station to the National Building Museum.
I wish someone had given me a heads-up that by heading downtown I’d be flying head-on into tens of thousands of teenagers and their parents and nuns and um…. *thinks of polite word and decides that snarky aside serves the purpose better than, say, "weirdos"* who were gearing up for a Pro-Life mass at the Verizon Center.
I think most of us agree that we’re for life, strictly speaking– that is to say, we don’t want to outright kill, and we don’t want to see a potential life sacrificed for selfish, convenient needs; and that we would like to see more responsible parenting. (For a very eloquent and to-the-point blog post on Roe Vs. Wade, go to OC Girl’s blog, please)
Then again, maybe we don’t all agree. I’ll leave that open-ended in case anyone out there feels so moved.
However, I thought that something about the people today had to be said:
The first amendment to the Constitution specifically protects the people’s right "peaceably to assemble."
What I saw today was not un-peaceful. But if it was peaceable, then why did I feel so nervous and freaked out as I passed by the throng.
Crowds, by their sheer size, are scary. Seeing the two lonesome patrol cars barricading the 600 block of F street NW didn’t make me feel any more secure– as a matter of fact I wondered if they would be hurt were the crowd to get out of control.
No one was being verbally abusive.
No one was agitating the crowds.
No one was hurling insults –not even the possibly-insane man wheeling himself about holding a picket sign and cautioning people that murder would send us all to hell (unless you count aitch-ee-double-hockey-sticks as a curse word).
But there was that feeling of unease and discord. Of hoping that someone might attack them so they might attack back. And most of the people hanging out were so young– so incredibly young and almost forlorn-looking, I have to wonder if they fully understand what it is that they are supporting or opposing.
I must simply challenge their fervor. I didn’t believe in much –nor very strongly, if I did– when I was sixteen or seventeen.
The stares that random members gave to others who were just passers-by and not in attendance, were rife with contempt. "Why are you not attending this rally? What could be more important than this?"
(Answer: Playing with the Bob-ah-Builder helmets and wielding a pretend drill.)
I felt judged when I didn’t take the pamphlets. I did take some and perused them (they were in support of Ron Paul, which struck me as peculiar since he’s the libertarian of the bunch, but hey).
Do colossal masses and protesting do much? I am not sure.
It’s hard to say where a self-affirming movement and a movement to convince others begins and ends.
But nothing is ever accomplished with thinly-veiled hatred or contempt.