The Anti-War Battle For Times Square--protestors face pro war icons.
Article Overview:   Yesterday, a battle was fought for Times Square between two old men and hundreds of protestors.  Guess who won!


Thursday--March 20, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 554
 The Anti-War Battle
For Times Square

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, Mar. 20-- In the middle of Times Square is a small piece of real estate, shaped like a piece of apple pie.   It is wedged between towering neon signs that awe visitors with their technological magnificence, and the prime real estate where millions watch the New Year's Ball drop each year to usher in the dawn of a new year.
        Last night it was the scene of a great battle between two Sentinels of Vigilance and hundreds of anti-war Terrorists.

Times Square: Battle site for Sentinels of Vigilance and anti-war Terrorists

       I went to Union Square for the noon anti-war rally yesterday, and followed it by attending the 5 p.m. rally in Times Square.    My mission was to record, listen and report the purity of freedom--the right of people to offer their dissent in accordance with the precious qualities of the U.S. Constitution's Right Of Free Speech Amendment.



           I can assure my readers it was difficult to hear the tirades issued by the speakers against America.   Fortunately, the crowd was small, nearly a third of it being news media personnel armed with television, radio and photo equipment.
        But the invectives flowing from the lips of the protest organizers were as deadly as Sarin or VX gas.  It's intent was to poison America's values in the minds of the young people who formed the bulk of demonstrators, not to dissent war.
        War was not the issue.  Instead, what came across from the bullhorns of the anti-war organizers was an indictment of the evil intent of America to rape, pillage and plunder not just a foreign land, but its own people.

Union Square protestors

        Charges were levied at President George Bush as the corrupt evil head of state who is waging war for oil. 

Invectives flew from lips of protestors and on signs they carried

      Signs stating a "rapist in a uniform is still a rapist" implied that Americans were bent on raping the land and the people.    The speakers railed on that America was launching a racial war against our own people, specifically against the black soldiers whom, they claimed, were uneducated members of the armed services and being used as human sacrifices by the white military leaders.
         Even Saddam Hussein could not have eviscerated America more deftly than did the Voices of dissent echoing across Union and Times Square.
         The speakers paraded before the people surrounding them a bevy of high school students who had skipped school to protest the war.   One by one, the boys and girls were given the microphone to sink their fangs into the Administration, and to announce their sophomoric statements of how evil America was.

Dissent leader, Mary, spewed venom at America

      It was certainly hyperbole at its worst.   The vitriolic nature of the dissent served to alienate many because the woman dissent leader, named Mary, constantly spewed foul language, using the "F" word constantly in her attacks.  Her language demeaned her message, for the adjective was tossed about as one might use the conjunctive "and" or the word "the."
       I gritted my teeth and tried to remain as neutral as possible as I weaved in and out of the crowd, snapping as many pictures as possible to capture the event.
       I was reluctant to go to Times Square and experience the same diatribe.   But I figured it would be unfair to just report on one event.   After all, this was the eve of war, a new kind of war.  It marks a new era in American history where the United States is employing "anticipatory self-defense," commonly called pre-emptive attacks, on tyrants who threaten the security of the world.



Young people with anti-war stickers and dress chanted in Times Square

         Times Square was a refreshing but discouraging sight.   On that piece of triangular concrete, serving as a "Y" that splits downtown traffic to either Broadway or Seventh Avenue, with Toys 'R Us beaming its five-story signs to attract children from all parts of the world, stood two factions.  

Times Square protestors en masse were in stark contrast to........

 The first, clustered at the tip of the pie, was a mass of protestors.  They were mostly young people with anti-war stickers plastered on their clothing and over their mouths,  bearing signs of dissent against the war.   They chanted at the thousands of cars, taxis and trucks inching their way downtown in the bumper-to-bumper New York rush-hour crush.

.....the two lonely Times Square Sentinels of Vigilance

          Next to them was another barricaded area.  It contained two demonstrators.   One is a man named "Freddy," an icon in New York.   Freddy attends every major event in the city, running races, parades, and war demonstrations.   Freddy carried a sign in support of the troops, and banged on a pan with a spoon.  His wrinkled face etched with the lines of time and a signal of having been through many wars, beamed as he gave the thumbs up sign whenever a camera spotted him.

Supporter  'thumbs up'  Freddie

      He was joined by another weathered man with a grim face carrying an American Flag over his shoulder and dressed in firefighter gear.   He also carried a sign supporting the troops and America, a counterbalance to the deluge of anti-war messages and insults being hurled by the youthful protestors.  

Fireman Supporter

I had seen the retired fireman many times over the past year and a half.  He led the civilians marching at the Ground Zero memorial last May.   He lost a son on Nine Eleven, and dug through the rubble for days in search of survivors.  His face was constrained, showing no emotion.  I thought of how powerful his resolve must be to be a one of the lone Voices amidst the cacophony of hate for America being broadcast by the dissenters.
       Eventually, one other person joined Freddy and fireman.  He held a sign that said, "I Love G. Bush."
       I worked my way down Broadway to where the group from Union Square had their bullhorns blasting.   The woman, Mary, was stripping the flesh of America's values, spitting venom at America's moral foundations, stomping and slashing at them with the same passion Saddam and all his children might.
       I listened to her and her words fell harmless on my ears.
       Freddy and the Fireman of Vigilance had said not a word.   They just marched in great circle around the slice of concrete in Times Square.   They appeared naked at first, for they were only two compared with a few hundred protestors.  But as I watched the two older men, veterans of many wars of human life, their faces scared with the pain that living brings, there was a strength far more powerful than any of the words Mary or her cohort tried to drown the youthful audience with.   

Angel of Vengeance (speaker Mary) spoke as though she could right America's wrongs and conveniently forgot Saddam's atrocities

        I thought of David and Goliath.   In their silence, in their posture of Vigilance, the two older men made a statement that surpassed all the caustic comments hailing upon the ears of the young people who mashed close to Mary, as though she were some Angel of Vengeance, and they were set to avenge the wrongs of a nation so ill managed that it sought to rape, pillage and plunder an "innocent country."
         In keeping with Mary's one-sidedness, she didn't mention the crimes against humanity that Saddam is infamously known for, that he gassed thousands of innocent Kurds, or killed his grandchildren's fathers and dragged their bodies through Baghdad, or stuffed any dissenters in prison and tortured them or raped their wives or mothers in their presence, or attacked Kuwait, or defied the U.N. and the world by not disarming.  No, there was no balance of thought, not ounce of fairness in her attacks.
        Freddy and the Fireman of Vigilance, however, said nothing.
        They didn't have to.
        All who saw the two men marching alone in an empty pen of concrete, buttressed against a mass of protestors screaming and laughing and cheering and jeering America, formed their own opinion.
        I did.
        I felt proud that two opposing forces could stand for such diversity on such a critical issue, and the passersby acknowledged their right to do so.    The hallmark of American liberty, the kind of liberty America hopes to install in Iraq, is the right of peaceful protest.


The only visible support for Freddie and the Fireman was a lone young man braving the masses

       It is the right for a radical like Mary to splutter out a litany of hate and misinformation, and for a couple of guys like Freddy and the Fireman of Vigilance to counter such comments with their own silent protest, diametrically opposed.
        As I made my way downtown toward the East Village where I live, I could hear the Sentinels of Vigilance above Ground Zero singing.
       They were cheering the right of dissent, no matter how much they might be disgusted by its nature, that right is worth all the blood that will be spent as America removes tyranny and installs a democracy.



Americans have earned the right to fight and die for freedom

          The question of moral authority is moot to that point.    For were all the Parents of Vigilance asked if they would fight to the death to protect their children from those who would throw their children in prison, or torture them if they disagreed with a certain point of view, it is more than likely the vast majority would consider their children's rights to speak freely, live freely, and offer their children that same freedom, worth dying for.
            Freddy and the Fireman of Vigilance were marching not for war, but for the right Americans have to die for freedom, even if that freedom is for children in a foreign land.


Protestors of the War in Iraq demonstrate Free Speech in Union Square and Times Square



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