Blogs > Daily Local Dan

A blog that takes a look at West Chester area government, politics, and community events.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

War Without End

The leaders of the Chester County Peace Movement and the Chester County Victory Movement told me last Saturday that, even though Obama has set what sort-of resembles a deadline for withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq, they have no intention of calling off their weekly demonstrations.

Karen Porter, the Peace Movement leader, told me her group will keep at it until world peace is achieved (which, she admitted, will probably never happen).

Rich Davis, the Victory Movement leader, told me his group won't quit until the Peace Movement calls it quits. He said he believes that the Peace Movement demonstrations demoralize the troops and military family members who drive through West Chester on Saturday mornings. He said the Victory Movement needed to stay around to repair the emotional damage the Peace Movement was causing.

Davis also characterized the competing demonstrations as a "war." He said that, if the Peace Movement agreed to demonstrate only once a quarter, he'd call off his weekly demonstration.

"Let's give this sidewalk back to the people on Saturday," Davis said. "I call what [the Peace Movement] is doing an occupation."

I actually think it would be a shame if the demonstrations stopped. They prove that West Chester is a legitimate, American town -- a town not affected by the modern, suburban malaise that makes people afraid to participate loudly in their democracy. Additionally, the demonstrations prove that West Chester's streetscape is conducive to democratic expression. Imagine similar demonstrations happening in Downingtown, Paoli or Exton. Wouldn't work.

Now, this doesn't mean I think the demonstrations are particularly effective. They are, in essence, politically-charged street theater. On one side, you've got people standing in circles, singing peace hymns to the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar. On the other side, you've got people yelling things like "honk if I'm paying your mortgage" and "Hussein Obama, worst president ever."

Then there are the costumes: Uncle Sam hats, face paint, biker gear, tie-dye, greasey locks, dredlocks, large effigies of the founding fathers, Che Guevara t-shirts, shirts depicting Obama as a terrorist, the words "jihad" and "revolution" painted on every available flag and article of clothing, etc.

None of this is likely to affect serious public debate. But at least the demonstrators realize that democracy requires more than just sitting at home, typing furiously on a blog.


Speaking of blogs, I discovered on Monday night that a Victory Movement blogger named Skye had been following me around on Saturday with a camera. Click here to check out some hot, paparazzi style photos of yours truly.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Waving flags of...

I've gotten a lot of emails regarding my article on the West Chester Flag Day demonstrations. No one was happy with it.

Peace Movement demonstrators complained that I miscounted the number of people on their side of the street. It's possible I did. But crowd counts are notoriously unreliable, and the fact I wanted to get across was that the Victory Movement had more people out than the Peace Movement did.

Victory Movement demonstrators complained of bias. Their problem: I included quotes from both the Peace Movement demonstrators and the Victory Movement demonstrators. (Read the Victory Movement's reaction to my article here.)

I still stand behind the article. It portrays the competing Flag Day demonstrations for what they really were: a battle between right wingers and left wingers. Maybe not all the demonstrators were aware of the images and political messages with which they were associating themselves?

A young Peace Movement demonstrator:

A group of Victory Movement demonstrators:

This is not to malign the demonstrations or the people who participated. It's extremely important that everyone gets their say. I hope both sides agree, at least, on that.

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