Drugs, depravity and debauchery – sin in spades.This was Washington, D.C. in the psychedelic 60’s.
Woodstock, Vietnam, Dylan and drugs helped define a strange time and place, while also laying down the foundation for future legions of protestors to follow.
Even now, some forty-plus years later, a new generation of protesters clings to that image, in hopes that they too may also leave their own set of footprints in the sand.
Anyone who came to the nation’s capitol last Saturday hoping to rekindle the purple haze of 60’s lore forgot one thing.
This isn’t the 60’s.
No one went skinny dipping in the reflecting pool. No one dropped dead on the steps of the Capitol from a heroin overdose. There wasn’t even a single incident involving tear gas, rubber bullets, or a German Shepherd.
This was Bingo night at the Lion’s Club compared to the 60’s.
It was a balmy 50-something degrees and sunny. The only things hovering around in the sky were the two helicopters that seemed to be keeping a keen eye on the crowd throughout the day.
And speaking of people, there were droves of people – thousands of people. Most of who were generally older than the college student that is likely reading this paper. The protest was generally made up of middle-aged Joe-Schmoe Americans and various war Veterans.
Actors like Sean Penn and Tim Robbins also made appearances as well, but felt about as out of place as a McDonalds in Uganda.
Apparently there were some pro-war, anti-protesting, protestors in attendance as well. Though rumor has it that their number would have only been large enough to fill a few booths at the local Denny’s.
Most people walked around the area waving their homemade signs that read family-friendly slogans like “No War for Oil.” Others featured slightly more creative lines like “Impeach the Son of a Bush!” or “Bombing for Peace is like F***ing for Virginity.”
Others chose a more dramatic way to get their point across.
Musician Greg Stewart came to the protest decked out in camouflage and gore, with faux bullet wounds in his forehead, half of his throat torn to hamburger shreds, and the words “Bush Lied” spelled out in fake blood across his heart.
Someone dressed in a Dick Cheney mask walked around and took pictures with people, as he clung to his “Halliburton” briefcase overflowing with money. Others felt the addition of devil horns to a George W. Bush mask was also key when making a statement.
But generally speaking, the crowd was very low key on theatrics. Most people were entirely satisfied simply being there with a sign in hand. Being passively active was good enough for them.
Everyone was waiting for something powerful to happen, something that would alter the course of history forever- a spark.
But it never came.
Instead, everything went off like a peaceful protest should, with lots and lots of talk and very little action. But one has to wonder if it made any impact at all, as the newspapers are already moving on to bigger and better things to base their stories on.
Like the New York Yankees, the whole thing looked exciting on paper, but seemed to lack any sort of drive when it mattered the most. And by Sunday morning, most people woke up realizing that nothing had changed, and had already begun to forget about everything that happened just a day before. Just another protest in another city.
This is not Vietnam- this is not the 60’s.