Friday, August 20, 2004

Will New York burn?  

The carefully orchestrated Democratic Convention was successful in keeping the ugliest elements of the Democratic party from being heard. While John Kerry reported for duty and all but sang the Marine hymn, Howard Dean spoke as though someone at the bar had slipped him a Mickey, and the Bush/Hitler signs and Uncle Sam stilt men were noticeably absent. While not widely watched, and not delivering the bounce in the polls that many assumed would follow, the convention at least supported an image of Kerry as a "serious" leader and the Democrats as a coherent, reasonable bunch of thoughtful people.

Might it all unravel next week? The Republican convention in New York is clearly being set up as the release point for left wing rage. The Ted Rall article Tigerhawk linked to below is just one example of their call to action. Today's Newsday features a resuscitated Tom Hayden, comparing upcoming protests in New York with the American Revolution.

The first American revolutionaries were "rude and insolent rabble" to John
Adams, who nevertheless became president in their wake. Abigail Adams warned her husband in 1776 to remember that "if particular care and attention are not paid
to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion." The former slave Frederick Douglass advised the timid liberals of his time that "those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground."Shall we trade this rich heritage for the convenience of those who want to preserve their Republican authority, like the grass in Central Park, from being impacted by our marching feet?

Other more volatile forces are gathering. Today's NYT reports that Anarchists Emerge as the Convention's Wild Card. The article itself paints a ridiculous and nonsensical caricature of anarchist subculture, making this look like some kind of anarchist convention, in which

there are "Anarchist Soccer" games on Sundays in Tompkins Square Park, Anarchist People of Color picnics in Central Park, salons and even a small makeshift
bookstore in the East Village called Mayday almost entirely devoted to

But what TV viewers are more likely to see are scenes from the protest itself, where

even anarchists who are against violence are warning of trouble and admit that
they are planning acts of civil disobedience, including blocking intersections, staging "chaos on Broadway'' when the delegates attend Broadway shows on Sunday night, holding a "die-in'' near Madison Square Garden, sneaking into parties and other functions and generally harassing the 4,853 delegates and alternate delegates.

Might the protests in New York reach the proportions of the WTO riots in Seattle? And what will the media report? How will Americans react? Even Tom Hayden has some concerns about that, although he quickly rationalizes them into his favor.

Adding to the preconvention tension is the floating rumor that Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's campaign strategist, is laying a trap for the protesters, counting on the very fact of disorder to bolster the president's image as a strongman. In this view, protesters are supposed to behave themselves lest they throw the election to Bush.

Defending the GOP convention as if it is the Green Zone in Baghdad may not
instill national confidence in the commander in chief. A confrontation in New
York could be a sign that four more years of this president's policies will destabilize our country as needlessly as his Iraq adventure and trillion-dollar tax cuts for the wealthy. Many voters could conclude that Bush, if he wins in 2004, will plunge the country into strife not seen since the '60s.

This will be as hard to turn away from as the proverbial slow moving train wreck.


By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Sun Aug 22, 11:37:00 PM:

The current estimates conclude that about 350,000 protestors will descend on NYC during the RNConvention. Based on all the organizing going on under the radar of the mainstream media, I'd put that number closer to 1.5 million protestors. Of these motivated individuals, we can safely guess that 90% are upright Americans exercising their rights of free speech and assembly as well as their right to shop. The other 10% are problematic.

There's the anarchy crowd, who aren't satisfied until something is on fire. The Tinfoil Hat crowd, who insist that George W. Bush is a Space Alien Computer Program projected as a hologram and who wear silly outfits. The 'We're mad as hell and we're not gonna take it any more' crowd, who are just looking for a reason to act up and would like nothing more than to have their point proven by tear-gas firing riot cops.

Let's all hope that the 10% get subsumed by the 90%. I believe that the central story coming out of this convention is going to be the candidates' reactions to the protests.

Deep Breath People.  

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