Tuesday, November 18, 2003

David Frum does the London protests

Why this protest is deeply shameful
As slogans go, "Hands Off Nepal" has a lot to recommend it: it's simple, direct - and yet at the same time, touched with a certain exotic romance.

"What's going on in Nepal?" I asked one of the two compact men carrying the banner on which the slogan was painted.

From behind the cloth stepped a good-looking young man in a long blue coat. "A people's resistance movement is battling the Nepalese government." What's that got to do with Iraq and President Bush, I asked him. The United States, he replied, was backing the government.

Oh, I said: "Are you from Nepal?" He replied that he was from Turkey. What about him, I asked, jerking my thumb at one of the banner holders. "He's from Turkey, too."

"Are there, in fact, any Nepalese here at all?" I asked him. "Not as yet, but" - he hastened to assure me - "we are expecting some Nepalese friends later."
Whew, that's a relief! Good to see that the wingnuts showed up though.
The anti-Bush demonstration in Lincoln's Inn Fields was called for six o'clock, but at the appointed hour, journalists and camera crews substantially outnumbered protesters.

I joined a line of 14 journalists to interview a shapely woman dressed as a beauty contestant: "Miss Flaming Planet".

More hijinks by following the link, but here's the best line:
But not as good a point as this one I heard from a young member of the Socialist Workers Party, standing underneath a clutch of red banners. I goaded him a little: "Wouldn't Trotsky describe your allies in this coalition as religious obscurantists? And isn't the history of the Middle East that religious loyalties count for a whole lot more than ideology?"

Mike (the name he gave) shrugged me off. "People in the Middle East are fighting because their own governments are repressing them. They come to feel that they have no alternative - and the mosque is always open.

"But I can't help thinking that it's just not very realistic that people are going to kill each other because they say my God is better than your God. Give people freedom and an opportunity for something better: that's what they really want."

I said: "You know, you sound exactly like Paul Wolfowitz." He flinched.