"No to war, poverty and militarism".
That was the first sign I spotted a block or so away.
It seemed oddly reminiscent of late 1960's America. The tense days of the Vietnam War protest movement. I couldn't help but push forward with my Nikon, not certain what I'd find.
The message came courtesy of the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women, a group I'd never heard of. I shortly learned theirs was but one of hundreds of causes in banner-form streaming down M Street.
It was one of the many images I captured during Saturday afternoon's Anti-War march in Washington, DC, an unintended happenstance of my visit to the National Geographic Museum.
I was handed a newspaper of sorts, called "Worker's World," subtitled, "Workers and oppressed peoples of the world unite!" This was socialist propaganda pure and simple. The periodical like the protest parade made no attempt to hide it.
I scanned the paper to find the event was a coordinated anti-war protest targeting the 7th anniversary of the Iraq War. Similar marches were scheduled for New York City, Baltimore, Detroit, Boston, San Francisco, Chapel Hill and Providence Rhode Island.
Another headline read, "Hundreds of Thousands Mobilize to Demand Fund Education, Jobs for Youth."
"No to war, poverty and militarism."
It could have well been the message of anyone among the diverse grassroots coalition. They shared the solidarity of the disenfranchised. You could see it in the clothes they wore and in their eyes. There was no starch in their shirts, no colored contacts in their eyes.
Their protest was different, personal.
These protestors didn't scream. They didn't spit. Their quiet dignity refused slanderous shouts. They passed by peaceably in many shapes, sizes and colors. Young and old, black and white, red, yellow and brown. American citizens, new immigrants and resident aliens alike marched in lock step. Women walked with confidence and children, too. Young men and gray-beards alike took up the cause. Aging veterans, hardened by the cruel realities of bygone wars, advanced an agenda of social reform even as the bitter aftershocks of war continued to reverberate inside their heads.
I have to say I thought at first the marchers were Tea Baggers, the very same whose offensive outbursts and raucous antics my partner and I witnessed during last week's ENDA lobbying.
Early Saturday, there we were again, seated among them during our Metro rail ride to D.C. on the eve of Health Care Reform. It was sadly disconcerting to hear their boisterous words echoing through the car---misinformed, virulent, categorical condemnations. It wasn't the energy of a cause, more like a pre-game pep rally.
They disembarked the Metro, a swarm of stinging bees taking flight on Capitol Hill, in the process assuring headlines throughout the day.
Yet, by comparison, this Anti-War march which drew hundreds of thousands in cities across America barely made the headline news. Coverage apparently reserved for more politically correct conservative causes. Like the outlandish and disgraceful behavior of the Tea Party movement.