Since today was the 5 year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, I decided to check out the anti-war rally in downtown Chicago, which happened to start just down the street from where I work. As the above link will attest, I was aware of the some of the socialist intentions of the event, but decided to give the organizers the benefit of the doubt that it was going to be a straight-up focus on the war and give a rational presentation of arguments to back up our side of the issue. It turns out I was dead wrong.
At first I was entertained by some of the more creative and individual protesters that weren't affiliated with the leftist organizers of the event. These included Jesus Christ with the Cross, Patriotic Puppets, a Revolutionary in a tri-corner hat, St. Gertrude Parish, and few "billionaires for Democrats":
Though as soon as the speeches started, the whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth as the anti-war issue was used as a linchpin to forward all sorts of political ideologies only marginally related to war. There were anti-corporate socialists who wanted to use the war money to fund socialized projects. Hey, I happen to like the corporate overlords who pay my salary. As far as the cost of the war is concerned I'd rather get my money BACK through lower taxes and lower inflation, and not have it spend on more big-government boondoggles, thank you very much. There was a Mexican nationalist who tried to link the illegal immigration issue to the fact that non-citizens are "coerced" into the army. Last time I checked our army consisted entirely of volunteers, and immigrant veterans tend to be rewarded handsomely with citizenship. There was a person ranting against Israel and for the Palestinian Intifada. I'll get more into that insanity later. There was no end to the grandstanding on people's pet issues, and relatively little time left to take a principled stance against the war.
After the speech we started marching, and this is when the madness truly began. If you click on the image below, you'll see that these are members of the International Socialist Organization, or put another way, Revolutionary Marxists:
An organization that should have died with the fall of the Berlin Wall when communism collapsed under it's own crushing weight of oppression, and should have been buried along with the millions of deaths it caused throughout the 20th century. Yes, the very people who would love nothing better than to reproduce the hell on Earth that is North Korea and Cuba on our soil. But wait, there's more! I managed to scribble down one of the chants that they started up on the march, reproduced here:
Long live the Intifada!
Free free Palestine,
Long live Palestine!
Repeated ad infinitum, all while holding "Stop Racism, Stop The War" signs in Arabic. Of course, the irony is that the Intifada is a fucking war, that antisemitism is rampant in the Intifada, and that the Islamists would be more than willing to throw the commies under the bus in the quest to re-instate the Caliphate and Sharia Law in Palestine. Pure madness.
Another interesting aspect of the march was how shockingly civil it was (given the rampant communist and black-flag-and-mask anarchist presence). There was a sizable police presence (as taken in pictures below), but there was absolutely no conflict. There were exactly two intersections that featured riot police and policemen on horseback, but they seemed positively bored out of their skulls, and seemed to be more of a curiosity than the protesters, who were photographed almost relentlessly. At other places, the march was flanked by ordinary beat cops who looked like their couldn't wait to end their shift. Onlookers and protesters alike crossed the police "lines" without so much as a sneer. I took a picture of what I thought looked like a police version of an Active Denial System, but it turned out to be an ordinary TracStar satellite dish.
Naturally, the media was there to gawk at the scene:
Here are some random pictures of the protest:
To end on a positive note, the march was worth it purely as an opportunity to take pictures of a city with world-class architecture--at night:
Update 2008/3/20: One thing I forgot to mention was that there was a "United Nations" contingent there flying a large UN flag. The irony, of course, is that one of the pretenses for going to war was over non-compliance with UN resolutions.