Sunday Reading

Sunday news is filled with hilarious and fun articles about Glenn Beck and the 9/12 protests. I’m sure that there were similar articles during Iraq protests. ANSWER is certainly prone to critique and mockery. But those protests were defined by 3 key characteristics:

1.The February 15, 2003 anti-Iraq War protests were, more or less, the largest protest ever, reaching all over the world. And while 9/12 protestors may think that they were the largest protest ever:

 “I think this is the biggest crowd ever to march on Washington.” Another man, marching nearby, agreed: “I think this is the greatest American outpouring I’ve seen in my life.”

They are wrong.

It is the largest organized protest against Obama, to date. That would be point enough. But no, they have to claim that it is the biggest crowd ever. The willing blindness about the sheer facts of the matter should be a microcosm of the whole movement.

2. The anti-War protests were focused on a single, achievable goal (No War in Iraq) and 

Certainly, groups like ANSWER had their goals all over the place, arguing about Palestinians and marijuana legalization and such. But those were not the points of those protests.

As the Slate article points out, the 9/12 movement doesn’t really have a goal. Its very confused. That one article does a good job listing arguments by the protestors, and then pointing out that they are wrong.

Attendees were also adamant that members of Congress read legislation. Betsy McCaughey, after being introduced by the MC as “the woman who started it all by actually reading the bills,” appeared at the podium toting her usual binder containing the House health care legislation and proceeded to read from it. (Her claims were similar to ones she made in a New York Post op-ed in July. They have been largely refuted.) “I think Congress should read the bills, but I’d be happier if some of them read this a little more often,” said Rep. Pence, brandishing the Constitution.

Unfortunately, reading bills rarely resolves anything. Witness this exchange between me and a young man from South Carolina.

Him: “Have you read the House health care bill?” 
Me: “Yes, parts of it.”
Him: “Do you think it covers illegal immigrants?” 
Me: “No.”
Him: “Then you haven’t read it!”

The bill does not, in fact, cover illegal immigrants.

Timothy Noah’s column in Slate about the protests is short, but to the point. I really appreciate the social/anthropological pseduoanalysis:

What is Washington? It is the Other. Who is the president? He is the Other. What is the purpose of Glenn Beck’s movement? To purge America of the Other.

Also, the column refers to Beck as a Bot who has passed the Turing Test. Wheee!

A Salon article about the protests focuses more on the current return of massive “right-wing” publishing, viewing books through the lens of literary fiction

Now, I didn’t forget the third point:

3. The anti-Iraq War protests were right in the end. 

While some may argue that the Healthcare or other policy is flawed, that doesn’t seem to be the point of these protests. In the end, Obama will not be a secret Communist, or a Nazi, or born in Africa. They are already wrong about these key points.


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