Contrary to everything you might have come to expect about me, I took part in the immigration reform march here in DC. Even stranger, it isn’t even my first march. (It’s my third. Which, for me, makes it almost 100 since, you know, it’s me and protest rallies and marches aren’t really my scene, or so I like to think.)
I have a love-hate relationship with protests and marches. (Except for globalization protests, in which case it is all hate. You know, I’m sure now that the world has seen you dressed up as a turtle hurling invectives at a Starbucks storefront, everyone’s just going to change their mind and say “You know what, let’s just get rid of this whole globalization thing.” Then, you can use your gold card to hop a train back to suburbia and maybe pick up some patchouli at The Body Shop (but globalization is still bad!) as a reward for a job well done.) I think they can amplify a message and while the marches themselves may not be a catalyst for immediate change, they can signify a groundswell and provide, at the very least, an impetus for further engagement and activism. And now I sound like a dirty fucking hippie, the exact sort of person I’m planning on hating on in the next paragraph.
Because dirty fucking hippies, and a few other subgroups as well, are a huge part of the reason I hate protest marches. Anarchists, communists, and Green Party members are also on that list. (Not because of their views so much as the fact that they live in a world so divorced from anything resembling reality that they do and say things that can, at best, be called “counter-productive.” See the above re: turtle costumes. Nothing legitimizes a cause like appealing to the much underrepresented furry vote. Or, you know, lighting shit on fire.) Or the people who just don’t get it. I was in New York in the summer of 2004 doing some opposition work during the Republican National Convention. As such, I figured I may as well join the huge anti-war rally since I was there. So, I marched along, declining to chant things like “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!” because, well, I can only take things so far. I ended up near some pro-Palestinian group. Now, I am not anti-Palestinian, or Israeli, but I was anti these douchebags because they kept yelling “Intifada, intifada!” which, to me, seemed a little off-message for a peace march. Then they lit shit on fire. I took that as my cue that, perhaps, I had given peace enough of a chance that day and headed to the Village to drink vast quantities of liquor.
But the dirty fucking hippies. Oh, the hippies. There is a scene in South Park where Cartman is having a bad dream, tossing and turning saying “Hippehs, hippehs everywhere! All they do is smoke weed and smell bad!” (You can always rely on Cartman for the bon mots.) And I have absolutely no problem with the former, but a huge problem with the latter. And everything else about hippies. Especially the vegan hippie in our office. (She of the definitely not cake cake
fame.) She also joined the immigration reform march and I was absolutely unable to shake her. I could kind of deal with her (wrong) translations of the Spanish chants and her cooing over the adorableness of various small children. But then the drumming started. Because there is always someone in a protest march using a wooden spoon to beat on the upside-down bucket hanging from their neck by a piece of twine. Always. And when that starts, so does the hippie dancing.
You know what I’m talking about. The “let’s all be free” arm flailing, accompanied by shoulder jerks, twirling and crouching. Why do hippies crouch when they dance? It looks like they are about to give birth in some antiquated ritual. Are they attempting to get closer to the earth? Do they imagine they seem tribal, ergo more natural and less a part of the oppressive classes? Is good posture nothing more than a refuge for the bourgeoisie? I really don’t understand the crouching. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ve clearly never been anywhere that involved Rusted Root. Because every shitty hippie band that forms at a liberal arts school like the one I attended does a cover of “Send Me on My Way.” And then, a few months later, Rusted Root themselves will show up on campus and even though the hippie band sucks, you can’t really hear the difference between “ohmesaywah” or whatever the hell the lyrics are supposed to be from one band to the other. But everywhere around you are the not-so-great unwashed crouching and working up a sweat, which is great since patchouli is usually their answer to the horrible scourge that is a deodorant/anti-perspirant combo.
So, that is how I spent my Monday afternoon. Informing people that I do not “woo!” or chant under any circumstances and trying to avoid getting my toes crushed by a vegan’s big old Doc Marten boots (because only meat is murder, not leather) as she full-body-heaved her way down 15th Street with an almost-beatified expression on her face. And, to be honest, it did feel good to go out for a cause I believe in, and I got some sun and a chance to get out of the office for a few hours, but I’ve fulfilled my march quota for at least the next two years. My hippie quota, on the other hand, is filled from now until eternity.