Quick Thoughts on the 9/12 Protests

— I trust Matt Welch to file an accurate and fair-minded report. His take is here.

— James Poniewozik gets this right:

…as someone who happened to be in New York City eight years ago today, the implicit premise of the 9-12 Project—that those who aren’t on Beck’s side must have somehow “forgotten” 9/11 and its aftermath—ticks me off royally and personally.
I was at home in Brooklyn, holding my six-week-old baby on the couch, when I saw the second plane crash into the World Trade Center on TV. I watched the smoking pit of the ruins from the roof of my apartment building as bits of memo paper and ash drifted on the winds to my neighborhood. I was there on 9/11, and 9/12, and 9/13. You’ll excuse me if I don’t feel warm nostalgia for the lingering smell of burnt airplane fuel, and metal, and bodies.
Nor, of course, does Beck. What he purportedly wants is to bring back our feeling of “unity.” I remember that feeling. After 9/11, I remember hardcore liberal New Yorkers rallying behind Rudy Giuliani, saying nice things about President Bush when he spoke at the WTC ruins. I remember thousands of American flags being flown out of apartment and brownstone windows, not as political statements or in the you-better-prove-your-patriotism spirit of flag pins and Freedom Fries, but simply because we felt we Americans were all in this together.
So since March, what has Glenn Beck been doing to re-establish that sense of nonpartisan national brotherhood? Calling President Obama a racist, declaring that the government was bringing fascism upon us, asking his fans to dig up dirt on political figures he doesn’t like, and predicting civil-war-like uprisings. Because that’s how you bring people together.

This is as good a place as ever to quote Mickey Kaus’ Twitter feed: “My friends on the Right don’t like Glenn Beck either. In private, they say he’s a careerist phony.” In public they apparently “respect the grassroots”.

— The protests aren’t — as I write this at 3:30 am PDT — anywhere on the front page of the New York Times Web site. Shouldn’t they be?

— Dan Riehl makes the rookie mistakes of trusting an obviously inflated attendance figure, and regurgitating this tidbit: “I heard multiple reports from Cops on the ground just covering the deal who said they had never seen a crowd this large. One claimed to have been working DC for twenty years.” Hmmm, can anyone else name an event that drew larger crowds to DC during the last twenty years that easily falsifies the information offered by that anonymous source? Journalism 101: cherry-picking the highest attendance number offered by a foreign newspaper and uncritically passing along the anecdotal impressions of a single cop are great ways to credulously present inaccurate information to your audience. Isn’t this the kind of thing that savvy bloggers criticize the MSM for doing?

What do I think about the protests?

1) I’m averse to big protest events generally — too much time spent on a liberal arts college campus where I scoffed at the silly activists. Jim Crow, the British occupation of India, and the Vietnam War — those called for unusual public displays of opposition. Ill-defined concerns about the size of government? I’m with you, but persuading others by protest rally requires an answer for “why now” that I don’t think you’ve got… so maybe more usual methods of opposition would work better?

2) Or maybe some different unusual means of opposing the Obama domestic agenda would prove more effective? I’m going to think hard about how best to oppose those things with which I disagree. (Note to David All: Twitter is not the answer!)

3) If you’re going to have a big protest — or even a mid-sized family reunion — you can’t help it that some loonies are gonna show up. This is part of why I am averse to big protests, but it’s also why no one should judge the average protester by the looniest signs that surrounded them.

Okay, I’m gonna go read some Dos Passos now.