Rally Report--Gran Marcha, Gran Backlash! Reader L.N. suggested I had exaggerated the number of Mexican flags at various immigrant protest rallies--maybe demo organizers had wised up to the lesson that flaunting allegiance to a neighboring country was not a good way to make most Americans want to let in more people who share your attachment!** So I went down to today's Gran Marcha against "anti-immigration legislation" in downtown L.A.:
Crowd size: Big! Bigger than a couple of football games--I'd say 200,000 plus. ***
Makeup: 99 percent Latino (an oversimplification--I saw one T-shirt saying "I'm Mexican, not Latino")
Most telling placard slogan: "Somos illegales, no criminales!"
Flags: Evenly split between Mexican and U.S.,with El Salvadoran running a very distant (1%) third. And there were lots of flags. If you said "Mexican flag" every time you saw a Mexican flag, you never stopped talking.
** Q: Why are Mexican flags troubling in a way Italian flags wouldn't be troubling at, say, a Columbus Day rally? Simplest A: Italy's not right next door! ... For more on this issue, see this discussion with Jim Pinkerton. Pinkerton says flatly, "There will be a wall." He's for it. ...
*** Of course the very size of these rallies, when coupled with the pro-illegal immigrant sentiments and the Mexican flags, might hurt the cause of the ralliers. It seems likely to make many non-PC voters think, "Jeez, next year's rally will be even bigger. We'd better build that wall quick!" ...
Update: The Los Angeles Times, in a break with its recent trend toward improvement, fronts an embarrassing 100% PC rally story that mentions the U.S. flags (which marchers were told to bring) in paragraph one and the equally numerous Mexican flags (which marchers apparently decided to bring on their own) in paragraph #10. I used to write this sort of press-releasey "news" account when my college paper assigned me to "cover" anti-war demonstrations that I'd helped organize! (Typical Kaus lede: "Thousands of marching feet filled Post Office Square to protest ..." etc.) The Times' effort is filled with representative quotes from participants, without a note of dissent. Bill Bradley, in New West Notes, jumps on this especially romantic LAT sentence, which was so prized it got its own graf:
The marchers included both longtime residents and the newly arrived, bound by a desire for a better life and a love for this county.
But even the LAT doesn't pretend these were legal immigrants:
Many of the marchers were immigrants themselves — both legal and illegal -- from Mexico and Central America. Some had just crossed the border ...
Bradley also digs out a good quote from current California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, a rally leader who remembers the last big anti-anti-illegal march, which provoked a memorable backlash:
""I know I come from an advocacy background," says Nuñez. "But I learned a lot about negotiation with Miguel (Contreras, the late Los Angeles labor chieftain) and the labor movement. It wasn't all protest. You know when we had the big march in L.A. against [the anti-illegal immigrant] Proposition 187 in '94, Miguel tried to talk me out of it. 'Are you guys crazy?' he said. But I wanted to march. [Emph. added.]