I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve needed a little reassurance that the people sitting next to me on the subway absorbed in Steig Larsson thrillers aren’t secretly doodling swastikas in the margins. Yesterday I got it.
Thousands of ordinary New Yorkers—5,000* give or take a few hundred—heeded the call to rally and march against the display of Islamophobic hatred in lower Manhattan that was funded and fueled by powerful elites under the guise of aww-shucks ordinary folks.
Given the breathless global media coverage their side received in the weeks leading up to the ninth anniversary of 9/11, that Flat Earth Society seeking to manipulate a tragedy into furthering the aims of empire didn’t draw as many as I would have thought. This helpful aerial video posted to CNN’s iReport shows a few thousand, but certainly not tens of thousands as the bigots claim. Since it was filmed during the speech from their keynote speaker, fascist import Geert Wilders, I assume it was the highlight of their day.
In contrast, our side drew one of those magnificent New York human tableaus. Muslims and Arabs, Jews, Blacks, Puerto Ricans, seasoned politicos of every race and ethnicity marching alongside newbies thrilled to attend their first-ever rally. I marched with an old friend, writer Toufic Haddad, visiting from Palestine and en route to London, who discussed the rising tide of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign. And I met Eddie, a Columbia freshman, who seemed thrilled to be liberated from his north New Jersey home and finally meet other leftists like himself.
Even the Belgian cafe owners where friends and I dined after the march, passed around free waffles to thank us for protesting the hatemongers.
We on the left have a lot of work to do, this fight is far from done. Because after all it’s not just about a mosque in Manhattan or a troglodyte in Gainesville who wants to burn Korans. It’s about an empire flailing to hold onto power and resources in the midst of a global economic free-fall of its own creation.
There are two meetings in NYC this Thursday worth noting. The excellent speaker and now blogger (welcome!), Deepa Kumar will be speaking on Islamophobia: Causes, Consequences and the Fight to End It at 7PM, 56 Walker St., bet. B’dway and Church. And I will be speaking up at Columbia University that same night, Thurs., Sept. 16, at 7:30PM on What is Socialism in Hamilton Hall, 1 train to 116th.
*N.B.: My friend Lee Wengraf just wrote to let me know that NY 1 (the newspaper of record’s news show of record) reported 5,000 protesters on our side. This count seems a bit generous to me, but possible. I hate it when protest numbers are massively inflated—we can lie to the Man, but not each other. 🙂
Sherry Wolf is a public speaker, writer and activist who is available to speak at your campus, community center or union hall for a moderate fee. Wolf is the author of Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics and Theory of LGBT Liberation (Haymarket Books, named one of the Progressive’s “Favorite Books of 2009”). Contact Sherry at: sherrywolf2000 at yahoo.com or find her on Facebook. To watch the video of Sherry speaking with Cleve Jones and the cast of Hair at the National Equality March.