by Nicholas Levis
9-11 Truth Alliance
Saturday, Mar 20, 2004
More than 100,000 people turned out Saturday for the big antiwar demonstration in New York: “The World Says No to War.”
New York 9/11 Truth activists worked hard to prepare a high-profile presence at the demo. We made several hundred double-sided signs on poles from posters reading “STOP THE 9/11 COVERUP,” which were generously donated to us by the 9/11 Visibility project in Kansas City (septembereleventh.org). Our success in creating a presence that no one could ignore would have been impossible without them, so major thanks to Bill Douglas and the KC crew!
We also received a bunch of the Washington DC Metro ads that 9/11 Citizens Watch financed, which will be appearing this week and remaining for a month on all Washington subway trains! These read, “No 9/11 Coverup!” and demand that Bush, Cheney, Rice, Clinton and Gore all testify in public to the 9/11 Commission.
We managed to transport all of these signs to a number of drop-off points before the cops began to close the march area to traffic. Hundreds of people proved willing to carry the signs, and in the end you could see them down the entire length of the march. No matter which way one turned, there was at least one visible.
Many people reacted with comments like “right on,” although many also asked: “What is the 9/11 cover up”? Distributing leaflets was no problem, people literally snapped them up, several thousand at least (plus a whole lot of D-dollars, which as usual people would simply grab for).
In many of the leaflets we announced for the first time that Ellen Mariani, the Sept. 11 widow who is suing the Bush regime under the Racketeering statute (RICO) for intentionally letting the attacks happen, is coming to New York for an event May 22nd at the Riverside Church with her counsel Phil Berg (former deputy attorney general of Pennsylvania).
It’s a shame we didn’t have 50,000 leaflets and 50 or 100 people to distribute them, because we could have given out that many in the expectation that they would actually be read. (Often people rejected a leaflet – then snatched it up as soon as they saw it was about 9/11 truth.)
Many people initiated discussions and asked how they could get involved. A number who weren’t associated with our group also turned out with slogans like “Stop Stonewalling the 9/11 Investigation,” or with 9/11 research sites, on their signs.
Certainly a lot of work went into getting this huge demonstration together, and the march organizers are to be commended for that. Unfortunately, they decided to reject our proposal of a speaker on the 9/11 coverup (Phil Berg). Apparently this was after a long debate. This is an unfortunate failure of nerve!
I hope the organizers will acknowledge the importance of the 9/11 investigation in the future. It was too bad to hear so many speakers touch on Sept. 11, its consequences and its exploitation by the Bush administration – yet without mentioning anything about the family demands, the unanswered questions, the investigation, the many obvious lies associated with this signal event.
How can peace organizers be blind to how 9/11, the most important weapon in the Bush regime’s ideological arsenal, is actually the Achilles’ heel? Most of the demonstrators seemed to understand this very well, and to realize that 9/11 truth is one issue that can sway the American majority! When it becomes obvious how shamelessly 9/11 has been exploited to push through a program of war, repression and transformation by the very people who are actually responsible for allowing it to happen…
But the feeling of the demo itself was fabulous. One year into the invasion of Iraq, the antiwar movement is showing a great energy. And there is no doubt that more and more people in the antiwar movement are understanding the keystone significance of the 9/11 lie.
Today, the Sunday front pages of both Newsday and The Daily News feature full-length photos of thousands of marchers and their signs. Both have several “Stop the 9/11 Coverup” signs clearly visible at the bottom of the photo, where the print is largest and clearest. You can see glimpses of more such signs scattered about the crowd. (The signs really stand out in the photos, thanks to their excellent design: a white border, a black border inside it, simple message in oversize clear print on a light red background… plus they’re broader than most of the other signs).
Newsday also cropped the photo so that one of these signs is visible at the top of the photo and seems to crown the rest. I do not think this was unintended!
Sadly, neither story today makes any mention of the demand for 9/11 Truth. The usually right-wing Daily News headlined, “Peace!” The usually liberal and journalistically excellent Newsday, easily one of our country’s great papers, headlined “Loud, Clear and Peaceful.”
Both papers thus contrasted this demo to last year’s, which featured many arrests and predominantly negative coverage. Of course, in both cases the coverage is largely manufactured by the city and the media. The city gets to choose whether to try strangling a demonstration (like last year, causing “violence”) or to lay off (like this year). The media choose how to cover it. We are still vulnerable to manipulation.
I have to say, the tone of most of the podium speeches (the tone and repetition more than the content, usually) did not help.
Again, a sore spot was the decision not to give time to Phil Berg, in a program of 20-plus speakers. I know a request from John Judge of Citzens’ Watch was also rejected by the peace march organizers.
Based on the stage speeches, the media would have had few problems characterizing this as an “angry, hateful, anti-American crowd,” had they so chosen. It would have been untrue and unfair. But unfortunately the peace march organizers seem to be detached from or apathetic to the necessity of taking a constructive approach towards the American majority (oh, my god, not the middle class white people!), preferring instead to scream righteously at the long-ago converted.
I certainly agree that we must “Say No to Imperialism,” but hearing variations of this shouted 150 times an hour from the podium to a crowd full of the long-ago converted wastes an important chance to address more substantive issues.
Why not talk factually about things the demonstrators can do when they go home to keep organizing the movement? Why not present more analysis of the global relations that cause war, and address this to the unconvinced American majority? Above all, why not speak softly?
I should not generalize. There were high points, too, like Amy Goodman’s presentation of a taped interview with Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
But too many speeches reeked of line, line, line and merely trumpeted the speaker’s “identity,” rather than using fact, argument and reason. The low point was a speaker who screamed deafeningly and incomprehensibly for several minutes. The only word I could understand, repeated about 20 times, was “redneck” (apparently referring to the administration).
Now what’s wrong with the idea of actually convincing some “rednecks” to join the antiwar movement, rather than unnecessarily defaming them or automatically associating them with the Bush regime?
Music, humor, poetry and a more discursive, narrative approach would have done wonders. Where were great speakers like Ossie Davis, or dare I say Scott Ritter? How about an actor or an artist, at least? This was sad!
More photos here:
A Hartford Courant reporter came up to me and asked me all the right questions about 9/11 at the demo and was both well-informed and obviously interested. Unfortunately, all that made their story was the line, “Many marchers carried signs alleging a cover-up of the investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks.” Here it is, decent coverage otherwise:
All the best,