A Tale of Two Marches (Thanks to Kateri!)
by Tony Perkins
What a difference an ideology makes. Last Monday, 200,000 pro-lifers descended on the nation's capital to peacefully protest 34 years of abortion-on-demand. Despite record crowds and a line-up of speakers that included President Bush by phone, the March for Life earned little more than a footnote in the nation's news. Days later, radical anti-war protestors staged a march in Washington that mustered only 10,000, and the event made the front page of nearly every newspaper in America. Yet for all the media the small demonstration received, few news outlets reported the true headline of the day. According to reports, hundreds of demonstrators were allowed to take the steps of the U.S. Capitol during the march and desecrate the property with "anarchist symbols." When police formed a security line to stop them, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse ordered his men to fall back and allow the protestors to "exercise their First Amendment rights" by spray-painting the Capitol grounds with graffiti. One source at the scene said that Morse issued an order that no one was to be arrested for desecrating America's and arguably the world's greatest symbol of democracy. In an e-mail on his actions, Morse writes, "The graffiti was easily removed by the [Architect of the Capitol] staff... It is [our] duty and responsibility to protect the Capitol complex, while allowing the public to exercise their [freedom of speech]." Imagine the response had Christians "trespassed" onto this public property and prayed for our leaders! I dare say the outcome would have been quite different.
I happened to be downtown the day of the war protest, and I was struck by a number of things. First was the way that the people seemed to be conforming to their own stereotypes; i.e. a war protester from 1970. Now, I happen to love dressing in hippie skirts and scarves and such, but I would probably make it a point not to do so at a protest if I knew I would just be taken as a dismissable hippie. A second thing was the violence of some of their messages and the banality of others. (One guy was walking around with a sign that said hugs not war, "free hugs"- so people would go and hug him all day) Okay. Third was the number of people who were ice skating after their protest. I'm not kidding, we were there taking our youth group to the sculpture garden and the place was PACKED and sold out because of all the "protesters". Now I don't know if people from the March for Life went ice skating after the march, maybe they did, but somehow I doubt it. Usually people who come for it are staying in churches or have holy hours or talks or maybe go to a pub afterward for conversation. It's usually at least somewhat penitential (ok, maybe not reeeeally penitential, but not ice skating!). There is a lot of ideology going on in BOTH these things, and I think that's important to note. That's why I hate the speeches at the March for Life- It is ideology for a lot of those people. But it is truth to many others (a distinction worth making). There is also a sense at the March- unless you're with the ideology people- that you are not completely innocent in this; Your sins are part of the reason that you have to be there. Hence the reparation. But I got a sense of self-righteousness exuding from the war protest crowd. It's not their fault; It's all Bush's fault. They had nothing to do with the war and because they are so upright and noble they have come out to tell him to go to hell. Because THAT is right and respectful and appropriate. And it made me sad to hear the 5th through 8th grade kids in my youth group spouting all this stuff, directly from their parents of course, about how Bush is the most evil man in the world, and on Halloween one of them dressed as Dick Cheney because he wanted to be really scary. Lord have mercy. What a disservice it is to children to indoctrinate them into political ideology before they can even judge it. It reminds me of the scary fact from the last election. While many "conservatives" could understand and sympathize with some of the reasons an intelligent person would vote for a "liberal"; very few "liberals" could understand the other side at all, and in fact were violently offended by it. There is no attempt to really enter into an issue and seek the truth together, there's just a back and forth about opinion.
Back to this article, it really is astonishing the way that the media manipulates the truth. Lately I have heard this so many times and it is solidifying my lack of desire to watch the news. Unfortunately that also makes me quite ignorant on a lot of issues, but I guess I'd rather be ignorant than completely wrong and misdirected. A priest I have met recently returned from Iraq and had all kinds of stories about his time there that people will never hear because journalists there have been told that nothing positive will be published or aired. Nothing. Do you remember that streak of bombings at churches? It was happening so frequently and then just stopped dead- Did you ever wonder why it just stopped like that? Did you think maybe the bombers just got bored? This priest I met and a Chaldean priest he met over there searched the area to find all the Christian churches- the locations of which had not been known- so that security detail could be sent to each of them. Definitely didn't hear that. Thus ends today's rant.