So this time I did go to the demonstration against the war in Amsterdam. You may remember that last time I was still too much of two minds to take such a stand, but after the way the US dumped the whole notion of international law and order together with the UN in its haste to start what I'm sure will prove a succesful war - an illegal, successful war, I decided to join the ranks of protestors. I liked best the big banner of the Green Left that read: "Make law - not war". I also liked the modest sign saying "Not right now", as it neatly summarised my feelings about the issue.
The demo was smaller than the previous one, 20 to 30 thousand instead of last month's 60 thousand, but it was still impressive as it curved through and around the canals, and it was surprisingly diverse. A lot of older people, it struck me, 40 or 50 plus, from the aristocratic-looking grey-haired man of the Esperanto movement to the women in their fifties sharing their home-made lunch together while walking on in their sensible shoes. Also of course the alternative young folk, from squatters to cheerful high school kids. Quite a number of Iraqis and also groups of Moroccans, strident ones, too, rallying around the distinctly un-pacifist sounding slogans of the Arab-European League.
Many people carried UN flags; many others EU flags, which was definitely a first for demonstrations like this. This whole thing might still prove to be quite catalystic for a sense of loyalty to the EU - to the "old Europe" core of it, in any case.
Boats in the canals had signs up and many houses had posters and banners from the windows. On the roof of a house at the railway tracks that all the trains pass by someone had painted: Spring is coming, war is coming. There were obscure left-wing groups of all kinds, of course, as always - the loonie left fringe, with trotskyites in four denominations; but their efforts were far surpassed by that of the Socialist and Green Left parties. There were even individual Labour Party members, a former minister among them, with one particular youth movement group singing the Internationale - which had me and two other guys nearby simultaneously stunned in instant disbelief, then falling over laughing - who would have thought, huh, anyone still knew the text?
It was also a bit of an execrise in nostalgia for me, I must admit, as this is how I was raised ... and whenever I tried to remember I immediately got response, which was funny. Like when I yelled out (immediately unnerved, because I find it extremely hard to take anyone seriously when yelling out loud, myself least of all
: "no man, no woman, no child for the war", an elder lady immediately responded: "that's an old one!". And when I tried the "Bush molenaar" one (see earlier post), I got an instant grin of recognition from a 50-something man. Otherwise I kept quiet and made lots of pictures, of which I'll post one or two whenever it is they're ready, perhaps.
Anyway - we did our bit, for Anastasia her first rally ever, for me the first one I'd took part in in over ten years. Made clear that enough people still think that achieving success does not necessarily OKs the breaking of the rules; that enough people are still "not convinced" that war was necessary, at this point in time. It'll put a little extra pressure on the government to not get involved in this war, and save up its resources for helping to clean up the debris afterwards instead.