Last night, I took a time-out from packing for New York to march in an anti-escalation peace rally in Laguna Beach.
What’s the appropriate attire for a peace demonstration, anyway? I wasn’t entirely sure. I’m too young to have any hold-over hippie clothes hanging in my closet, so I had to forego the prototypical tie-dyed T-shirt, peace pendant, and daisy-embroidered jeans. Since it was an after-dark gathering by the water, I figured I’d wear something California Casual and warm. I pulled on a hoodie, jeans and leather jacket, and stopped for a non-fat, sugar-free vanilla latte – extra hot – to warm up my hands. Peace Now, new-millennium style.
Here, a quick run-down of some of the sights and sounds of our rally, before I finish my packing:
*A line-up of about 150 candle- and placard-carrying protesters, waving at people who drove past on Pacific Coast Highway. In front of us, a steady stream of cars; behind us, this lifeguard station and the reassuring sounds of ocean waves lapping against the shore.
*Honking horns — a frequent automotive “amen.” Toyota Prius drivers seemed most likely to bleat their horns in support. But — big surprise! — a Hummer limo also blared its approval as it passed.
*A silver-haired lady listening to Neil Young’s War Song on her iPod.
*Dogs as billboards…for instance, a dachshund wearing a leopard-spotted coat covered with End the Occupation stickers, and an obese Labrador who sported a T-shirt covered with anti-war slogans.
*A potential trophy wife, auburn hair extensions blowing in the breeze, dressed for activism in stiletto-heeled suede boots, Lucky jeans and a calf-length cardigan coat.
*A scruffy middle-aged man, carrying a large American flag, standing sentry behind our line-up.
*Ubiquitous tea candles in plastic cups, flames flickering in the wind…and the miner’s flashlight, shining brightly from a Birkenstock-wearing woman’s forehead.
*A seventy-year-old man (or so I’m guessing), pacing and punching the air with an uplifted fist, shouting, “No.More.War!”
*A photographer stepping out into traffic to get a panoramic picture; a woman approaching him to ask in a nervous whisper, “Are you sending that to Homeland Security?”
*Code Pink activists carrying pink peace signs and, in one case, a slogan-covered pink umbrella.
Sadly, while our group of activists (and nearly 500 similar groups across the country) availed ourselves of our Constitutional right to express our opinions, 300 soldiers’ voices were actively suppressed. From the Washington Post:
“To ensure that there would be no discordant notes [at Fort Benning during President Bush’s visit], Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, the base commander, prohibited the 300 soldiers who had lunch with the president from talking with reporters. If any of them harbored doubts about heading back to Iraq, many for the third time, they were kept silent.”
Totally unrelated: If scandalous or happy news breaks while I’m away, leave me a message, will ya? You already know how much I like to stay “in the know”!