Sunday, September 25, 2005

Thoughts on Yesterday

    So the anti-war rally was very interesting yesterday. I have to say that it's the first time that I was ever involved in any sort of protest and I came away viewing it as a very positive experience and it made me think about some stuff that hadn't thought about before. So let me break down my thoughts in a few categories for organizational clarity.

  • General Overview


  •     Like I said yesterday, the anti-war rallies took place in Washington D.C., San Francisco, London, Vancouver, L.A., Seattle, and there were other smaller demonstrations going on in other cities. The rally in San Francisco that I attended gathered a total of 50,000 people (by estimates from organizers) that marched through the streets. It should be said that the police estimated the total gathered to be 20,000 people, so even though they may be biased or have poor estimation abilities, they did have helicopters so I think their estimate may be more likely. The amount that gathered in Washington D.C. was reported to be 100,000 people (by the police). There were people from all walks of life there, from anarchists to religious groups. Ages varied throughout the entire range. When the front of the march reached its destination point an hour or so after the start the tail of the march hadn't even started to move yet. At the park I happened to run into the founder of Choose Reality who was passing out bumper stickers, so that was pretty neat to meet someone who was another active online atheist in the real world.

  • On the Perception of Being A Powerless Minority


  •     We often talk in the atheist community about how we are very small minority and so the prospects for us getting a rational worldview being endorsed by our government to be something of an unlikely dream. I think this is incorrect and only plays into the hands of those who wish to control our government for their own purposes because for many of us, if we don't think we can win we're not likely to try very hard. Yesterday I saw many people who could see through the bullshit that not only the adminstration puts out, but also the bullshit the media puts out. And many of these people were not atheists. And I identified with these people and felt like we were a group of thinking, concerned citizens even though I knew they probably believed in a magical sky daddy or two. See, what I've come to realize is that there are many aspects of having a realistic outlook of the world. Some of us see through the religious bullshit very easily, but then we are still fooled by the non-religious crap that we were indoctrinated with at the beginning of our lives. These things, I believe, include strong feelings of jingoism, a strong commitment to free market capitalism and the associated economic belief that both the rich and the poor "earn what they get", as well as the inability to see that the corporate-owned media is, without exaggeration, essentially propaganda. However, there are some people who see the latter stuff very early in life but still believe in the ridiculous religious stuff. And I believe that which path you take depends on a variety of factors, from different experiences in life, stronger interest in either religious or political/economic/information reality, or a stronger indoctrination in the other category. Now there may be more categories of realistic outlook that I haven't listed here, and that's because it's very possible that I still have beliefs that don't reflect the truth and so I don't recognize it as such.

        Now personally, I came to the religious reality part very early in my life. It was what I was interested in thinking about. However, in the other sense I believe I was a total fool up to even 6 months ago. I was extremely patriotic, a fervent believer in capitalism and that freedom was incompatible with anything else, and guess what, I even voted for Bush--twice. I watched the mainstream news very often, and a year ago I even watched O'Reilly thinking that I was in the No-Spin zone and that he was "looking out for me". Luckily for me O'Reilly made a very negative comment about atheists one day on his program, and so I was able to use my liberation from the religious aspect of reality to free myself from his crap, and so I started watching CNN (whoop de fucking doop). Thinking back to how fooled I was so recently embarresses the hell out of me not only when I say it, but just thinking about it.

        So attempting to get back on topic. I am going to start evalutating people's grip on reality not merely as whether they are a theist or an atheist, but also to the extent that they believe in the other types of dogma that exist out there. And I really like it, because it gives me new hope when I think about whether or not positive changes can occur in the world. I know that there is a much larger percentage of the population which has at least a partial grip on reality, and hopefully I can help them come to grips with both that I've found. Of course, hopefully they will help me out in eliminating crap that I believe as well.

  • The Media's Coverage of The Rally


  •     Was actually much, much worse than even I thought it would be. I thought I would be able to see uses of words and emphasis that showed a clear bias, but I didn't even have to look that far. The coverage was pathetic, and I talked a little about it in the last post. That article that I linked to yesterday morning was the article that they ran on cnn, msnbc, and fox news. They gave most of the voice to the pro-war people, despite it being coverage of an anti-war rally. The voices of the rally that they did give voice to they felt compelled to mention that they were still Bush supporters and that they didn't think immediate withdrawal of troops was a good idea, but that we should do it gradually. So they effectively portrayed the anti-war position as being the same position that the president has. Fantastic. The news media will give a front-page story when a dog rescues someone but they can't give a voice to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who spent most of their Saturday protesting. Looking at the "Coverage" today upsets me also. They cover a tiny rally by "defenders of Iraq war" (which was chosen despite the much more brief term "pro-war", but whatever, the rally yesterday was "anti-" instead of "defenders of peace" or something like that). In the article today they give the police estimate for the D.C rally yesterday instead of using the organizers's estimate of 300,000. But for the pro-war rally they quote one of the organizers for the number they are preparing for, "just to be on the safe side". The article also makes sure to include a statement that the war supporters are "the silent majority" while having a photo from the anti-war rally showing young people with painted faces going crazy. Oh my, what a dream world this anti-war advocates live in...

    Update: Today I found reported that the pro-war rally had a total of 500 people in attendance, just a smidge lower than the 25,000 that CNN led us to believe would be there. Yet they still got equal media time with the hundreds of thousands who demonstrated across the U.S. on Saturday.

    11 comments:

    Anonymous said...

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    Delta said...

    Hmm....so now we see what the spam messages need to say for me not to delete them... :)

    SH said...

    Hi Delta,

    Thank you for the post about the pro-peace ;-) rally. I wish I were somewhere where I could join in the demonstration but I live in a very conservative place and I know not about any rallies that took place here on Saturday. Nevertheless, this war stuff is really getting to me more and more.

    I too noticed how the mainstream media coverage of the protest was biased but I guess that is not a big surprise anymore.

    I couldn't help but smile when I read that you voted for Bush twice. One would never be able to tell that about you after reading your posts today. At the same time, it is nothing to be embarrassed about it. If anything, this is a testimony to how open-minded you are in that you are willing to change your mind in case if the new information becomes available to you. I think that most of the people who hold views not endorsed by the mainstream at one point or the other had their turning points, the moments of enlightenment if you will, the awakening, when they realized that something that they believed for a very long time is wrong. I love those moments - suddenly it feels like you can finally see clearly, you feel free when it happens. It is also a testimony to how powerful "the machine" is that it can keep even the most intelligent, well-meaning and honest people in blissful ignorance of reality for years and sometimes for their entire lives...

    Thank you.

    Aeger said...

    That's awesome delta. I was at the Washington March this saturday. Trust me, there were 300,000 people.

    I wrote about it on theblog.
    Will that html work? hmm, we'll find out soon enough.

    Oh, and sh, it doesn't matter where you live. I live in Mass. and I took a 7 hour train ride to get to Washington.

    Tanooki Joe said...

    Excellent post, Delta. I'm glad that you have been able to shake off the dogmas that held you back before.

    I understand the sentiment about organizing the reality-based community. There are significant difficulties. It's hard to organize around what we collectively don't believe in -- its harder to find common ground in such a movement. That's the major benefit of those dogmatic movements -- when you force everyone to be the same, they become very easy to control.

    Atheism suffers from an overwhelmingly negative image -- mainly, I think, because we're despised from both sides: on the religious right, for obvious reasons, and the religiously liberal side, for which we are often an all-purpose strawman. The popular conception of the atheist is a close-minded, joyless, unimaginative person who wants to take away the faith of others by force -- a hopeless nihilist that wants to drag everyone down with them. This image extends even to freethinkers -- how often have you heard an agnostic say that atheists are just as bad as fundementalists?

    I don't think that most atheists just consign themselves to hopelessness and do nothing. I think that one of the best things we can do is to show that we're just people like everyone else, who just want to live a happy life without being controlled by ancient superstitions. That alone goes a long ways towards winning over the more religiously open-minded.

    Anyways, it's good to see you posting again.

    Sportin' Life said...

    Really great post, Delta--so honest and personal. I hope lots of people come by to read it and think about what you have to say.

    SH said...

    Aeger, you are right of course, except that unfortunately sometimes one is unable to take long trips to participate in a march like this.

    Aaron Kinney said...

    Good one, Delta!

    Thats funny too, cause I was in San Francisco on Saturday for the Love Parade, which happened right next to the anti-war rally. I saw a bunch of protestors running around, but the majority of the people there were simply there to party. Did the protestors also go down market street along with the floats?

    Delta said...

    Well, I think we were on market street for a little while, but I don't remember seeing floats during the march, although I think we passed close to where the Love Parade was settled. Maybe I just wasn't looking the right direction or something. After the march was over my fiancee and I ventured over to the Love Parade area and checked that out. We are new to the area so I didn't even know it was going on.

    And thanks for all the good comments everyone, I appreciate it =)

    Anonymous said...

    Since you are now questioning the moral supremacy of capitalism, may I recommend an alternative called Participatory Economics, at www.parecon.org

    - John

    TCM said...

    Hey Delta

    You're writing some good stuff and finding out more about yourself and the world around you as you do it.

    The questions you ask are as important as any answers you may find.

    Keep it up.