Monday, October 18, 2004

Operation Rooster Crow: Infiltrating the Pro-Kerry Rally Under the Eiffel Tower

When word came that the French chapter of Democrats Abroad was organizing a pro-Kerry rally beneath the Eiffel Tower, we knew we had to be present.

Within a matter of days, half a dozen people had signed up, along with Joe N, who flew in from Washington, DC, on D-Day minus 1, with T-shirts galore.

Soon we were busy getting our weapons ready: translating the Protest Warrior slogans into French, and making signs.

On D-Day, at H-Hour minus 1, Erik, Frédéric, Aléric, Joe, Carine, and Hervé gathered at the assembly zone, and set out for the Place de Trocadéro.

Scanning the horizon, our local scouts spotted the enemy encampment. (If you look beyond the white tents under the Eiffel Tower [they were for the Paris marathon the following day], you will see the Champ de Mars; about one third of the length of the field away is a barely visible white sheet; that spot marked the target zone.)

Crossing the perilous river, we passed under the awe-inspiring Tour Eiffel, and stopped to set our stopwatches. Fanning out, we approached the 100-some crowd from all sides.

Then one of our signs went up. Then another, and another, and another. Operation Rooster Crow was in full swing.

Wearing a Communists for Kerry T-shirt, Frédéric displays a sign in each hand.

Next to him, Hervé holds signs that read "NO TO WAR; yes to collaboration", "Munich inhabitants for KERRY", "Frenchmen for KERRY (after Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot…)", and "GLOBAL TEST for BUSH; and mental examination for Kerry (flipflopathology)".

Induhviduals came up to argue. One of our precepts had been not to lose your cool and pointlessly argue back, but to fish out a copy of a BBC article on the latest mass grave unearthed, and ask arguers (noncommittally) what they happened to think about that. On the reverse side of the sheet of paper, for French people, was the photocopy of a Le Monde article explaining that "it is almost impossible to find anyone in Iraq (outside of the fallen Ba'athist members) who supports the position" of the "peace camp". (Both had the merit not only of not being partisan litterature, but of coming from mainstream media sources that are traditionally anti-American — sorry, anti-Bush.) Rounding out the items on the photocopy was a picture taken from one of the mass graves, the point being to show the picture to someone while asking, in an Americans-Anonymous-wise fashion, "What do you think this person's wife/mother/son thinks of Bush's 'war for oil', the 'peace camp' position, and the slogan 'No more war'?"

Aléric (in white Protest Warrior T-shirt) debating with an unusually reasonable bloke

Some of us were interviewed by Reuters TV (if any reader can find a link, we'd be ah-mighty grateful…; if anyone can provide me with the cute interviewer's phone number, Ah'd be ah-mighty grateful…)

The idea behind the Democrats Abroad rally was to have demonstrators go up to the front, take turns holding a bullhorn, climb up an unsteady stepladder, and speak up for Kerry, resulting in constant noice against Bush throughout the afternoon. So I thought I would join in the fun.

Jumping in front of the line, grabbing the bullhorn (from an American Cathedral VIP — a priest? — who'd said, pulling out his words with strength on every syllable, that "Believe me, George W Bush is no Christian"), I climbed the small stepladder, struggled to keep my balance, and started speaking.

"George W Bush is the worst politician in the world…" I started, borrowing a page from Winston's book. (Cheers, applause)

"George W Bush is the worst liar in the world…" (cheers, applause)

"with the EXCEPTION… of all the rest!" (perplexed silence)

"Saddam Hussein was a worse liar than Bush … the people who said that the UN could, and would, solve the entire Iraqi mess were worse liars than Bush … the people who claim that the 'peace members' motives were benevolent were worse liars than Bush … the people who said that Iraq was better off than before the war were worse liars than Bush…"

At about this time, the members of the crowd started trying to drown me out by chanting "No more war! No more war!", so I asked "how do Iraqi citizens feel about the war?" and stepped down…

Then the six of us crossed the Seine again for some well-deserved medals (beer, etc…)

It was a good day: All the brothers (and sisters) were valiant.

Related topic: read about the French anti-American march that took place in Paris on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings, and which was crashed by you know who…
(Be absolutely sure to click on the hyperlink named "Answer")

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