Muddled Activism

Mike's Friday afternoon post, "Activism as a Package Deal," described a recent incident at NYU involving a comically unfocused group of protesters who wanted, among other unrelated things, "annual scholarships for 13 Palestinians" and "NYU library access for the general public." After an interesting digression on the nature of revolutions and successful efforts to co-opt public support for otherwise unpopular causes, Mike argued:
My main point is that the muddle one sees among activists on the American left is not principally a result of a large organized effort. Rather, it reflects a kind of parochialism that assumes that people who share some of your concerns share all of them. An example: At a January rally in San Francisco organized by ANSWER in protest of the Israeli offensive in Gaza, some protesters were simultaneously demanding full equal rights for LGBT Americans and expressing solidarity with not just civilian Gazans (fair enough) but with Hamas, a fundamentalist movement that would and does oppress people for what it regards as perversion.
I have nothing to add to the substance of this argument. Because today is Saturday, however, I thought I'd point out that "Saturday Night Live" captured the essence of Mike's point in a 2003 sketch that depicted an anti-war rally prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. I could not find a video of the sketch, but the transcript is here. The opening:
[ open on anti-war rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial ]

Protest Leader: Yeah. We're here today, on the steps of Lincoln Memorial, to send a message to the war hawks - or, should I say, chicken hawks - right here in Washington, D.C.! For diplomacy.. for.. no.. war.. in Iraq!

[ the crowd cheers their enthusiasm ]

Protest Leader: Yeah! That's right! That's right! You see, the Bush administration.. must know the reason.. for this protest. We demonstrate for peace! My voice.. your voice.. thousands of voices! Rising up as one!

[ the crowd cheers their enthusiasm ]

Gay Protestor #1: [ raising his voice above the cheers ] We're HERE! We're QUEER! Get USED to it!

Protest Leader: [ dismayed at the unexpected outburst ] No, no, no, no, no, no, not exactly! But, yes! We are people from all walks of life, who are coming together today for a
single purpose, yeah!

Gay Protestor #1: For GAY RIGHTS!

Protest Leader: No. Not gay rights.

Gay Protestor #1: You're against gay rights?!

Gay Protestor #2: Homophobe!

Protest Leader: That's not.. that not what I meant. I support gay rights, alright? But today - today, people - we are gathered here to protest the Bush administration's.. illegal war!

Stoned Protestor #1: [ in another unexpected, perhaps malicious, outburst ] Yeahh!!

Stoned Protestor #2
: Stop the drug war!

Protest Leader: No! Not that war!
It just gets better from there, moving onto saving the whales and protecting unborn children. Enjoy.

-- Posted by Neil H. Buchanan