A microphone and speakers are set up on the steps of the Capitol building in Carson City. The blue letters of a large banner, “Nevadans Say No War Against Iraq,” are smeared from rain. In front of the Capitol, more protestors hold signs up to cars passing by. Most cars honk. There are about 250 to 300 people gathered.
A boisterous, chunky man storms up the sidewalk. He is alone. He’s wearing a white T-shirt with pro-Bush slogans written in marker.
BOISTEROUS MAN: Nuke Iraq! Kill SAHHDDAHHM!
The protesters do not reply. On arrival, each had received a half-sheet of paper titled, “Nonviolence Guidelines.” The guidelines were read at the beginning of the event:
1. We will harbor no anger, but suffer the anger of those who disagree.
2. We will refuse to return the assaults of those outside our rally.
3. We will refrain from insults and swearing. …
7. Our attitude as conveyed through word, symbols and actions will be one of openness, friendliness and respect toward all the people we encounter.
The BOISTEROUS MAN walks into this crowd of protesters, determined to provoke a response.
BOISTEROUS MAN: Saddam is Satan! George Bush never killed anyone. Saddam kills people!
YOUNG MALE (irate): George Bush is …
YOUNG FEMALE: Shhh! Shut up! No arguing.
Standing nearby is Alexander Dulinin, a Web designer from Gardnerville. Dulinin has attended only one other peace protest. Dulinin came to the United States from Belarus, part of the former Soviet Union.
DULININ (with a slight accent): I’ve no interest in politics, really. But I can’t stand by and let this country degrade into former Soviet Union standards. … I grew up over there for 26 years. Now I’m seeing the things I grew up with here. Government propaganda. The press is not free.
BOISTEROUS MAN: Nuke IRAQ! Kill SADDAM! Incinerate IRAQ!
DULININ: There is no fact to anything. Even overseas, even the British press has more facts—and they are our allies.
CARS: Honk, honk, honk.
The TV cameras have spotted BOISTEROUS MAN. Cameras come speeding across the lawn.
DULININ: We have a Web site at www.citizensforumonline.org.
BOISTEROUS MAN: Saddam is HITLER!
BOISTEROUS MAN turns to the TV cameras or a short interview.
DULININ: I was surprised after 9/11, being online, there were so many showing support and solidarity by putting flags on their sites. I was impressed. Now, see how many more are afraid to put anything on sites that show they are against the war. They are censoring themselves. How many Twin Towers have to come down before people say that’s enough?
On the steps of the Capitol, the Washiw Youth Group sings, accompanied by a man holding a drum.
A SIGN: “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”—Gandhi
U.S. veteran Buz McHaney talks about how he support our troops—including his sons who are in the U.S. military forces—but he does not support this war.
MCHANEY: President Bush, will anybody from your family be standing by mine in the desert?
Father Chuck Durante leads the group in a chorus of “Peace Shall Overcome.”
By 1 p.m., BOISTEROUS MAN is gone. The bells of the Capitol chime the hour as David Highsmith of Reno plays his guitar and the cars drive by, cussing and honking.
BUTTONS FOR SALE: Peace is patriotic.
A SIGN: Have another pretzel, Dickhead.