Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Antiwar demonstrations

I promised to write more extensively on the antiwar demonstration I observed in D.C. on the 16th. I hope this link to the piece I did for fulfills the promise. I was struck by how blase the tourists on the Mall were about the whole thing. I thought it was refreshing to have interrupted my note-taking with a quick trip to the most recently built wing of the art museum (the Hischhorn, I think) and an exhibit of late 19th-century paintings. I noticed that a number of the demonstrators took time out for a museum break as well. They had to leave their signs outside, but the guards were polite about that.

You get your bags searched going into a museum in this post-9/11 world, at least in the heart of democracy that is our nation's capital. It's not a major problem -- I wouldn't be tempted to carry firearms and contraband on a touristy venture anyway -- but at a deeper level it's discomfiting that such minor invasions of privacy are accepted as normal in "free"America. Once such intrusions are in place, they are seldom lessened, even if the justification for the original decision disappears into the mists of history. It has to be expensive. Will the expense lead to elimination in 20 years or so? Or will it still be considered vital to national security?

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