THE WORLD CAN'T WAIT RALLY, SAN FRANCISCO, NOVEMBER 2, 2005
For the past several months, the Bay Area (like other left-leaning regions around the country) has been plastered with stickers, signs and posters advertising a movement called "The World Can't Wait," which was to have its grand unveiling on November 2, 2005, the one-year anniversary of Bush's election (or non-election, depending on whom you ask).
Though it was promoted as a mainstream uprising to toss Bush out of office, many of the people I observed handing out flyers advertising the November 2 rally were well-known members of the local chapter of The Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), a cultish political group devoted to the teachings of Chairman Mao.
Sure enough, several weeks ago bloggers began pointing out the connection, and it was even noted on Wikipedia that "The World Can't Wait" (WCW) was founded by the RCP. After the RCP started promoting WCW on its own Web site, the cat was out of the bag; even the San Francisco Chronicle (perhaps stung by criticisms of their failure to fully divulge the nature of earlier anti-war protests) had no choice but to join the chorus of outlets acknowledging that WCW was nothing more than a front for the RCP.
I was ready to write off WCW as a fringe political fantasy with delusions of grandeur, when I noticed that its official list of endorsers included celebrities such as Cindy Sheehan, Gore Vidal, Ed Asner, Alice Walker, Harold Pinter, Eve Ensler, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Rickie Lee Jones, Casey Kasem, Ron Kovic, Studs Terkel, Cornel West, and Howard Zinn; local politicians such as Tom Ammiano and Chris Daly (San Francisco Board of Supervisors), and Mark Leno (California Assemblyman); activist groups such as ANSWER and Code Pink; and many others.
Were all of these people aware that they were endorsing a Maoist group's call for revolution? Or do they just sign whatever politically correct petition that arrives in their In box, without bothering to research it?
November 2 arrived. I decided to find out.
It was already crowded when I showed up. The atmosphere of Bush-hatred was almost palpable.
People began to gather in front of San Francisco's City Hall to hear the scheduled speakers. About two or three thousand people were there (according to later estimates, which seemed fairly accurate to me). With some time to spare before the speeches, I strolled around the plaza. First stop was the booth of the event's organizers, the Revolutionary Communist Party.
True to form, they were hawking a variety of Maoist tracts.
They even had copies of Mao's famous "Little Red Book" for the uninitiated. It really did seem like they were earnestly trying to bring back Mao-worship and make it a mainstream political movement in the United States.
Of course, it's not just about Mao. It's about having a revolution of "real" communism as opposed to the watered-down neo-socialism offered by most Western governments.
Under a true communist system, everyone is well-fed.
The iconic Ernesto "Che" Guevara was more than just a fashion statement at this rally. Here, his politics mattered -- not his chic trendiness.
But for most people at the rally, Chairman Mao was the last thing on their minds. The focus was on one person and one person only: George W. Bush. And -- to put it mildly -- he was not a popular guy.
A typical "World Can't Wait"er.
Photoshop gone wild!
In case any of the other messages were too subtle for you, this one boils the entire anti-Bush movement down to three simple words.
There were actually three main themes at the rally:
1. Let's have a Maoist/Communist revolution;
2. George Bush is Hitler and should be tossed out and/or killed; and
3. 9/11 was a government plot by the Bush cabal.
In fact, the "9/11 was a political ruse" booth was far more popular than the Chairman Mao booth.
On offer was a panoply of 9/11 conspiracy theories.
The sale of 9/11-was-fake paraphernalia has become an economic sector all by itself.
Everyone's looking forward to the next invasion. Will it be Syria? Or Iran? Whoever it is -- hands off!
The RCP had spent the morning rounding up truant students at local high schools and as a result a substantial portion of the crowd were teenagers.
As the picture above shows, the RCP folks printed vast numbers of protest signs -- far more than were needed -- so most people simply carried the preprinted signs that were stacked up for the taking. But in the sea of green there were still plenty of homemade political sentiments. Such as...
This one deserves a close-up.
One day some clever collector is going to make a fortune curating a gallery exhibit of "Protest Outsider Art."
Some signs are just too clever for their own good.
Someone came on stage and announced that the speeches were about to begin. Cindy Sheehan herself was the keynote speaker! Also scheduled were Stephen and Virginia Pearcy and various local politicians. I scampered up to the stage area to catch all the action. Come with me!
Click HERE to continue to part 2 of the report...