Thanks to April Reign for drawing my attention to this blog account of Saturday’s huge anti-Palin rally in Anchorage. I understand a thousand some-odd protestors might not sound “huge” to most people, but it was far more “huge” than the pro-Palin rally organized by the GOP in the same city, on the same day.
I can relate the writer’s sense of significance – I went to the pre-Iraq-war protest in Calgary in 2003. Calgary – which probably has more in common with Anchorage than, say, with Toronto – is a conservative, family-oriented, not-very-big city where the residents are highly individualistic. Calgarians are not normally given to accumulating en masse in the streets for any event that is not in some way related to the Stampede.
Of course the five thousand people crowding into Olympic Plaza on that day were nothing compared to the million or so that flooded the streets of London, but it struck me as quite meaningful that such a crowd could be drawn in a city where the residents would normally be inclined to hockey or weenie roasts on a sunny Saturday in February.
I grew up in Calgary and left at 17, mostly because as an artsy, sensitive person I couldn’t bear Alberta’s conservative culture and politics. On that day I felt a surprising sense of fellowship with my redneck neighbours I have never felt before or since, not despite what I had perceived as a lack of social conscience, but because of it: The people gathered in this maddeningly conservative city in a province I have always referred to as “the Texas of the North” showed me that the limit of public tolerance for injustice does not always lie between the “left” and the “right”. In some cases, it lies between the people who wage wars and those whose children have to fight them – and whose grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have to pay for them.
I find the crowd in Anchorage similarly inspiring. It’s not a small thing for people whose social gatherings are likely to involve tales of solitary confrontations with carnivorous beasts to get together and give voice to their common interests. Nice photos, too.