Food for fought

It was in the epic Stones’ tune “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” where Mick sang: “I went to the demonstration to get my fair share of abuse.” On Saturday the 25th, that, for some fuzzy reason, sounded like a most excellent game plan. I headed to the federal building at Liberty and Virginia, where the Reno Anti-War Coalition was holding its latest rally against the war in Iraq. And since I had been hearing announcements on KKOH-AM encouraging war supporters to also show up at that location, well, the stage was set for some lively political and philosophical clashing.

I was not disappointed.

There on the steps of the Fed were 90 to 100 anti-war protestors. Across the street, in front of The Chophouse restaurant, were about 30 to 40 flag-wavers. The reason the anti-war people were there—to say it’s time to get out of Iraq NOW. The reason the flag-wavers were there—to yell at the anti-war people. Some notes …

• The Anti-War Coalition needs to strengthen its presentation. Certainly they should continue to present quality speakers who are able to talk informatively and persuasively about events and situations. But not more than four speakers. And interspersed between speakers, instead of lame stuff and hokey skits, there should be more chanting. A good, roaring chant gives the Gandhi-esque anti-war folks a chance to channel and expend some of the anger energy that builds up while they get taunted and jeered and interrupted by the flag-wavin’ hillbillies across the street.

• It was possible for anti-war and pro-war citizens to actually come together and engage in serious political discussions. I had a chat with a man who had served in Somalia and had some interesting observations about the Iraqi situation (we’ll be there for a generation) and the United Nations (as a military force, useless). But he lamented, as I did, that the sober discussions were being overwhelmed by loud, rude sloganeering. I’d say sophomoric, but that would be disrespectful of sophomores.

• Not one person on either side changed his or her position on the war as a result of this event. The Coalition speakers were preaching to the choir. And the folks in the peanut gallery across the street didn’t seem to care too much for the message. If the Coalition wants to really make its point, it ought to have some fundraisers to scrape up enough dough to buy feisty, even incendiary, ads in a newspaper.

• At one point, the two sides were exchanging chants across the street. While providing an excellent opportunity for still more emotional catharsis, the scene also brought on a feeling of hopeless silly business. After a minute or two, my mature, sophisticated political mind began fantasizing about … a food fight. I mean, what a classic—eggs, tomatoes and heads of lettuce flying across Virginia Street and supervised by bored Reno cops. Now that footage would get us some prime time on newscasts around the country. It would surely be noticed by the producers of Reno 911!