Monitoring the Hate
Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2003
Surprise, surprise, I was not one of the crowd made up mostly of socialist, anti-Bush, America-bashing professional protesters who took to the streets in New York City last weekend.
They were supposedly protesting against the impending war with Iraq. But as was the case in just about all of the major demonstrations held around the world last Saturday, they made no secret about who they were and why they were there.
How do I know this if I didn't attend the protest in New York, let alone the demonstration in London? I know it because I sat and watched the media coverage of the events, and the coverage really did tell the story this time.
While sitting on my couch and flipping the dial from CNN International, to CNN, to MSNBC, to Fox and back to CNN International, and tuning in to WABC Radio in New York, I got the message, and the message was hate. Hate for America, for George W. Bush, for Tony Blair, and in some cases, for Ariel Sharon and Israel.
Let's start in London.
It was billed as the largest rally ever in that city. That's what the mayor told us viewers. But it wasn't until Walter Rodgers presented his package (that's TV talk for a taped, finished product) on CNN International that the full story emerged.
"These were Christian pacifists, socialists, left-wing politicians and tens of thousands of British Muslims," says Rodgers as the camera pans the huge crowd. Rodgers acknowledges that the protest probably won't stop Bush or Blair from going to war.
He then continues, "March organizers are hoping to bring down British Prime Minister Tony Blair because he supports the U.S., and punishing Blair wouldn't be a bad second prize in the eyes of these organizers."
Then came the sound bites from those at the march. "Blair and Bush are lying to the public." "Blair is Bush's bitch." "He's a criminal for Kosovo, he's a criminal for Afghanistan, and he's about to be a criminal for Iraq."
Next, Rodgers moves on to the second point of the rally, bashing Bush.
"Passionate about Blair, some were even venomous about G.W. Bush," says Rodgers. He asks one marcher how he would get rid of Saddam. "I'd get rid of Bush first" is the response. "He's very scary because he doesn't seem to have a lot upstairs," adds a British woman. This as we see a sign reading "Bush and Blair Wanted For Murder!"
Next we move to the stage to hear from some of the speakers. Rodgers tells us that the British crowd clearly supports the French over America in what he calls "The Euro-American divide." We then cut to George Galloway, a member of the British Parliament, who says he would rather be eating cheese with the French than "taking popcorn with the born-again, Bible-belting, fundamentalist Republican administration in Crawford, Texas, the execution capitol of the world."
There's the true agenda right there. It's a Republican administration, a religious president who believes in the death penalty. Obviously Galloway has a problem with all of that, but not with Saddam and Iraq.
Walter Rodgers then completed what the protesters considered the axis of evil, by focusing on Israel. "As is typical in these British demonstrations, Israel came in for nearly as much criticism as Washington." Cut to the stage and an unidentified man ranting that "The Zionist lobby is pulling for war." Rodgers finishes up with "And at the end of the day, to this crowd at least, the heavies are Bush, Blair and the Israelis, and not Saddam Hussein."
From London, let's take a look at what went on in South Africa, again courtesy of CNN International. This time the reporter was Charlene Hunter Galt. "Some of the protesters wore Osama bin Laden T-shirts and one such man carried a sign that said 'Thank G-d I'm not an American.' "
And then came those familiar words: "In this crowd, President Bush was more the enemy than Saddam Hussein." The report showed us signs that showed Bush in diapers, and some reading "End U.S. Terrorism."
One man said that Bush is a "dangerous man." Soraya Hassim, from the Islamic Relief Fund, said of Bush, "He himself does not know how to run his own country."
Remember, the reports filed by Rodgers and Galt for CNN were to give an overview of the events. These were not isolated incidents. These reports reflected the tone and the mood of the so-called "peace marches." Again, notice what's missing? Any mention of Saddam.
The next stop from my couch was Paris. There, Jennifer Eccleston of the Fox News Channel told us that most of the crowd was "affiliated with France's Socialist and Communist parties." The signs in the crowd read "Stop American Imperialism," "Stop George Bush's War For Oil."
Over on CNN's coverage of the Paris event I saw many American flags with Swastikas painted on them. Oddly enough, no mention of Saddam.
The coverage from protests in Beirut and Syria showed the kind of garbage you would expect from those countries. In those countries, Saddam was directly hailed as a hero.
Off the couch for a minute or two to turn on WABC Radio. There I find my colleague Curtis Sliwa reporting live from the New York event. He tells us that actor Danny Glover called the U.S. government liars and murderers. (I bet MCI is thrilled that it made him its spokesman.) Al Sharpton, Susan Sarandon, Rosie Perez and others addressed the crowd to bash Bush in one way or another, but the name Saddam Hussein seemed unknown to these lovers of peace.
As for the New York crowd itself, hundreds were arrested. Police were hurt, as was a police horse. In one very telling incident, as reported by Michael Daly in the New York Daily News, a group of peaceniks attempted to block a fire truck from coming down 53rd street in the city. The firefighters were returning to their firehouse after going out on a call. The police had to clear the way for the truck.
The peace-lovers screamed and shouted at these brave heroes. One of them called the men in the red truck "fascists." Then the rest of the mindless morons picked up the chant.
One of the firefighters verbally attacked by people who hate America and everything it stands for had helped carry Fire Chaplain Mychal Judge out after the collapse of the south tower of the World Trade Center. You may be familiar with that photograph. You may not know, however, that the firehouse where Engine 8 was headed lost 10 men at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.
The harassing protesters might not have known that either, but I daresay that it wouldn't have mattered to them if they had. They are all about hate. That hate was evident around the world. It was there for all of us to see and hear. You just had to know where to look and listen.
Steve Malzberg's WABC Radio shows can be heard live on the Internet at www.wabcradio.com: Monday-Friday, 6-8 p.m. Eastern time, with Richard Bey on "The Buzz" and Sunday mornings from 9-11 a.m.