Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
I'm a little worried that this cartoon
comes across as just nastily mocking war protesters, with whom I am not only
in sympathy but of whom I am one. I actually took part in the march on the
White House last Saturday to protest the invasion of Iraq, along with my colleague,
friend, and fellow American Megan Kelso. These are just some of the hilariously
inappropriate slogans we thought up the night before the march while we were
drinking Jameson's Irish whiskey and thinking up our own slogans to paint
on our signs. Our favorite by far was "They Probably Don't Have Nuclear
Weapons," because it acknowledges the secret ambivalence and doubt that
any but the most arrogant and blindly dogmatic dissenters must feel about
this antiwar movement. I mean they probably don't have nuclear weapons,
and the Bush administration isn't any more certain of that than we are, and
in any event that's clearly not their real reason for wanting to attack them.
Except the thing is, they might. Really have them, that is. We don't know.
And if some terrorists get ahold of one and use it to destroy New York City
next year we are all going to look like a bunch of dorks, just like those
of us who used the "Democrats are no different from Republicans"
argument in 2000 look now that the Republicans have torn off their smiling
human masks and are giving the finger to the tenuous international social
contract that's been worked out since the League of Nations, wiping their
asses with the Bill of Rights, all but eating babies on live TV. Not that
me looking stupid will be the worst repercussion of a nuclear attack on America,
but it'll certainly put the icing on the fucking cake.
Possibly I am feeling a little malicious about the Left at the moment,
since I had to spend several hours actually being among them this weekend.
Megan and I had agreed that the most effective protesters are those who look
respectable and can talk intelligibly to the media, so we dressed up as squarely
as possible. I wore my Ralph Lauren suit and Joseph A. Bank overcoat and Megan
looked charmingly frumpy in her granny glasses and a sweater and skirt. She
carried a sign that read "WORLD DOMINATION IS UN-AMERICAN," which
sounded stern and maternal, as though implying it was also very bad manners.
(I had brought a sign, too, with the pretty Quixotic message "WE WON'T
LET YOU DO IT," but a little Iraqi boy appropriated it for himself, which
I let him do because a.) I was intrigued by the sinister new connotations
the slogan took on when he was holding it and b.) he wouldn't give it back.
Next time my slogan's going to be INVASION IS FOR NAZIS AND MARTIANS.) We
also carried my bigass 4th-of-July American flag between us, one of those
flags they drape over your casket. The whole semiotic message of our dress
and demeanor, such as it was, was that this protest was patriotic--that we
represented the real America, not these vicious right-wing colostomy bags
occupying the White House. We were by far the squarest-looking people there,
squarer even than the aging hippies and church activists. Mostly the crowd
was composed of college kids and hippies' dreadlocks, those big floppy knit
hairbags, etc. We had to put up with the usual irrelevant left-wing bullshit:
TV clown Al Sharpton spoke at the rally and started yelling "Free Mumia!",
which only made me roll my eyes and wonder haven't they executed that guy
yet?, and for a while we were marching uncomfortably close to a big flatbed
truck decorated with Palestinian flags with some asshole on top who had a
whole Eminem thing going hectoring us over painfully loud loudspeakers, hoarsely
demanding, "WHAT DO WE WANT?!", in response to which we were
supposed to scream, in scary bellicose unison, "PEACE!!!"
A girl came up to me and said she was glad to see some "normals"
there. Meaning us. Only one guy made a dubious comment about our flag, which
annoyed me not just because he was a sneery little left-wing dickhead but
because that's exactly the sort of attitude that concedes the flag, and by
association America, to the far-right extremists who've hijacked it as their
own and leaves the rest of us defined as a bunch of anti-American fringe-os.
I gave him a cold-eyed Hitler Youth stare and he hurriedly broke eye contact
and went away.
Still, overall we had a less dismal time than
I had expected. At least it didn't rain. After the march Megan and I sat on
a bench in Lafayette Park, across from the White House, drinking Jameson's
out of a flask. It is too early to gauge what effect we had on the administration's
policies. I think it's safe to say we can all expect to see some big changes