New York responds to BushI couldn't be there myself -- Susana & I return from Spain on Thursday -- but my friend and National Writers Union colleague Bob Lamm sends this report:
Dear Friends--For any of you who weren't there and who might be interested, here is a personal report on the anti-Bush protests in New York City this weekend.
Just a quick preface. During my freshman year at Yale, I was in small Spanish class for a year with George W. Bush. He was exactly the shallow fraternity boy that has been described in the media. I detested him then and so I can genuinely say that I've detested him for 40 years!
I was also in the Yale Political Union as a freshman when John Kerry was the
president of the Political Union and George Pataki was the head of the Political Union's Conservative Party (basically the equivalent of Young Republicans). I detested Pataki, wasn't a huge fan of Kerry, and still feel exactly the same about those two. But I'm certainly supporting Kerry in this election.
Anyway... on Saturday I went with my friend George Robinson to the March for Women's Lives sponsored by Planned Parenthood and many other organizations. We assembled at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn and marched across the Brooklyn Bridge for a rally in City Hall Park. Very good turnout and terrific spirit. And it's always worthwhile to walk across the absolutely glorious Brooklyn Bridge!
For those who've read the media lies about how younger women don't care about feminism, a significant majority of the demonstrators were indeed younger women, though there were plenty of middle-aged and older women and a good number of men. Before the demonstration began, George and I had a nice chat with two women and a man from Medical Students for Choice who'd come from Pennsylvania and who had plenty to say about how so few future doctors are being trained to perform abortions. Overall, it was an excellent,inspiring march apart from being *very* hot and humid.
Today (Sunday) was what was planned as the largest anti-Bush, antiwar demonstration of the week. After much wrangling about whether the demonstrators would be allowed to rally in Central Park, it was finally agreed that we'd march past Madison Square Garden (where the GOP convention will be) and eventually head down to Union Square (the traditional rallying point for radical demonstrations dating back many generations).
I went with my friend Steve Brier and we hooked up with a contingent from the Professional Staff Congress, the faculty union for the City University system. The crowd was staggering. They say it went on for a full two miles. Organizers had hoped for 250,000 and many people feel there were more, perhaps 400,000 people.
It was a *very* diverse crowd in many respects. Completely peaceful anywhere we were, great spirit, lots of energy, some incredibly funny signs. (I wish I'd taken notes!) In the midst of that huge assortment of people, I unexpectedly ran into four or five I knew and for a good while we marched right behind an actor whose work I've long admired (Stanley Tucci). Special tribute here to my friend George Robinson. Some of you may have seen on TV that there were people at the back of the march carrying coffins to remember those who've died in the Iraq war. George was one of them, helping carry a coffin for many hours on this hot, humid day.
Then, tonight, I got a taste of what the coming week will be like, as I unexpectedly ran into a protest I hadn't heard a word about. I went to the Walter Reade theater in Lincoln Center to see THE LAST FRONTIER, an Anthony Mann Western from the 1950s. As I was leaving, heading for Broadway at about 9:45 P.M., I heard shouting, whistles, obviously a protest happening right near me. Some GOP visitors were apparently arriving for a welcoming party at Alice Tully Hall (a concert hall on Broadway that's part of Lincoln Center). And there was a crowd of about 100 demonstrators offering the Republican fat cats a much less than pleasant welcome.
This is an indication of what's ahead in the next four days. Some protest groups have obviously studied the official and unofficial calendar of events for Republican delegates and will be turning up outside (or perhaps inside) their social events.
So that is a brief report from the battlefront here in Manhattan. For anyone receiving this who was out demonstrating this weekend, I'd certainly love to hear *your* thoughts about what you did and saw.
And if you don't like the chicken hawks, corporate crooks, and religious bigots who run the Republican Party and all three branches of the federal government... here's my unique, jaded perspective. I got a distressing look at George W. Bush and George Pataki forty years ago... and now one of them is my president and one is my governor.