Give peace a chance — My first activism experience

Nicole Levins, junior journalism major, attended the March on Washington to end the War in Iraq on Sept. 24. The march was sponsored by United for Peace and Justice. Following is Levins’ personal account of the march.

If there’s anything I hate more than getting up early, it’s war. That’s how I ended up boarding a Progressive Student Alliance-sponsored bus at 7 a.m. last Saturday, bound for a massive anti-war protest/march in Washington, D.C.

Though I’ve always had strong political convictions, thanks to being raised in a wildly Democratic household, I haven’t been nearly as active as I’d like to be. I was captain of my (winning) anti-war debate team during my senior year of high school, but clearly, my victory had little impact on public policy, so now, three years later, it’s time to take it a step further. Welcome to my protesting debut!

We got to the National Mall around 11:30 a.m. Helicopters circled overhead, and I imagined secret agents inside, scouting for new victims of the Patriot Act. Is there a blacklisting in my future?

Kelly Dowd, junior sociology major and my traveling companion, noted that she “just saw a girl with hairy armpits.” Oh yeah, we were in activist territory.

Pre-march, we wandered around the tent area at the base of the Washington Monument, where bleeding-heart organizations demanded the liberation of Palestine and suggested books as a substitute for bombs.

Kelly bought her mom a souvenir, a “Jesus loves Republicans, but he votes Democrat” pin. I tried to avoid being smacked in the face with protest signs while I admired their ingenuity.

There was the usual “Make love, not war,” “Peace is patriotic” and the ubiquitous “The only Bush I trust is my own.” As a lover of all things fabulous, I was particularly attracted to a group of gay men who had glittery, feathered pink peace signs seemingly growing out of their backs. Sassy!

Eventually, it was time to hit the streets for some non-violent dissent. As we marched, various groups chanted about what they wanted (“Peace!”) and when they wanted it (“Now!”).

If there’s anything holding me back from being the ultimate super-protestor, it’s the chanting. I can’t do it without feeling ridiculous, so I just clap and try to look as supportive as possible.

It’s pretty unnerving to be walking down the street with hundreds of police officers wielding huge clubs seven feet away from you, ready to beat you senseless if you look like you’re getting too enthusiastic.

It’s even scarier when you glance upward and there are five snipers perched on the roof of a nearby building, waiting to shoot you if your enthusiasm can’t be controlled with a nightstick.

There weren’t as many anti-anti-war protesters as I thought there would be. Honestly, I felt like laughing at the few camped out on the side of the road, because to me, wearing a “W ’04” T-shirt is equivalent to wearing a T-shirt that reads “What’s up? I’m an idiot.” But whatever, I’m all about the first amendment, so I fully support their right to wear dumb shirts.

I’m glad I finally ventured into political activism. Apathy

is very unattractive, and I wish that more of my peers would get involved. If your beliefs are more liberal, why not become a member of the Progressive Student Alliance? If you’re conservative, I can’t help you, but maybe try to get in touch with College Republicans.

And take advantage of your right to peaceably assemble. Attend a protest or rally for whatever it is that you care about or find interesting.

You’ll have fun, and there is nothing cuter than a little old lady wearing grandma slacks, a cardigan sweater and a “Fuck Bush” pin. Personally, I’d like to attend a women’s rights march next. I’m already growing out my pits. Just kidding.