Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hide in Plain Sight

I did make it to the Peace Rally in Boston yesterday, despite bad weather and having to squeeze it in between grocery shopping and taking my daughter to a birthday party. (I was late leaving the house because I had to hear the details of the first middle school dance of the year, at which she apparently slow danced with a boy. Am I really ready to have a teenager?) Because of the weather, I ended up leaving Tracy and the kids at home, rather than dragging them with me.

I made it just in time to join the crowd for the march from Boston Common to Copley Square and back again. From what I could tell, there were more people there than when I marched a few years ago (about the same subject--isn't that sad). The paper said there were about 10,000 people there, which sounds about right.

It a diverse mix of young granola-types and aging protesters from the 60s, along with families with kids, a group of Iraq veterans against the war, a college group from Clark College in Worcester, Socialists, Jewish-Christian groups, Code Pink, Quakers. Aa group called Raging Grannies, sang on the sidewalk as the crowd filed past. A brass band played rousing tunes--when the march was over, they generated a sort of impromptu mosh pit of folks dancing about to the sounds of tubas and trumpets.

The cops were present but relaxed. They clearly weren't expecting any trouble. Mostly they seemed to be there to make sure that the parade of people went down the proper streets and didn't get themselves run over by crazy Boston drivers.

It didn't take me long to find a friend--Jennifer (who founded the group White People Challenging Racism, with whom I teach anti-racism classes) marched alongside me and we chatted about marches and politics the whole way.

There didn't seem to be much reaction on the streets as we marched past. A few people watched. Some joined in. But it's not like there was any organized counter-protest that I could see.

I wasn't there for all the speeches, but based on the list of who spoke, it was clear that the march lacked the presence of a powerful political leader who made make the protesters feel like anybody cared much about what was being done or said. As far as I can tell, the most senior politician to speak was a Boston city councilor. Okay. Where were our U.S. Senators?

I was left feeling that I'd at least done something. But maybe it's fortunate that I also don't feel like it's likely to make a big difference in the outcome. Not this one thing. But it was encouraging to see 10,000 other people willing to take time out of their days, away from college football and Red Sox pre-game shows, to let the world know they think this war is a bad idea. If all of those 10,000 people keep at it, keep raising their voices, maybe it'll make a difference.

I checked the Boston Globe this morning to try to find coverage of the march. The first page featured a big photo of the Red Sox game from last night, of course. I don't have a problem with that. The column of news roundup gave no mention of the rally. The other front page stories were: Michelle Obama revels in Family Role, a piece about mostly unused HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes in the Big Dig, and a story about a suburban physician who did bad things to seven patients.

Hmm. No protest coverage.

Well, how about the local "City & Region" section? The headlines on the front page are:

"Wired for Excitement" about a non-scientific look at one Red Sox's physical response to Game 1 of the World Series (I kid you not);

"Hub expatriates declare allegiance to Red Sox Nation" about Boston fans who are in Denver;

"Train takes a detour into the past" about a family who took a ride on the newly reopened Greenbush commuter spur to Scituate (their father worked for the railroad for 50 years);

"Baby dies in apparent drowning" about a nine-month old baby who drowned in a bucket of cleaning solution in Quincy; and

"Man glad for arrest in killing of his son" about an arrest that happened on Friday in a senseless killing from more than a year ago.

No mention on page 1. Or 2. Or 3. They did make an effort, though. On page 6 of the City Section, they ran an article with the headline" '10,000 in Boston rally against war" They do mention that the rally was part of 11 protests held across the country, but don't talk at all about what happened in those cities. Total coverage: about half of a column page, buried deep in the city section, with a low-key photo of three performers--nothing of the crowd. No wonder people feel like no one gives a crap about the war. The media acts like it's not important, that people marching in the streets doesn't matter. They'll definitely get a letter/e-mail from me. Not that they might care. No wonder the newspapers keep losing readership--they're too busy trying to keep us entertained to tell us what's happening.

Maybe next time we should march in front of the Globe's headquarters.

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