"Elephant on the dais" and "Thousands protest Bush's Inauguration"

Readers respond to Salon's coverage of the Inaugural protests in Washington.

Published January 25, 2001 9:00AM (EST)

Read "The elephant on the dais" by Arianna Huffington.

I loved Arianna Huffington's article. I am a 40-something mother of two from Connecticut, and I was angry enough about the way Bush was "selected" as president that I joined the protest in Washington on Saturday.

Huffington is exactly right. If Bush would acknowledge the way he was "installed" into office and the fact that many, many Americans are furious about the fact that so many votes weren't counted, he would go a long way toward defusing the anger not very far from the surface. Working toward solving a lot of the egregious problems with our election process would help his credibility immensely.

Instead, he is plowing ahead with his agenda, as if he has some type of mandate. He had no mandate, and half of the electorate can barely tolerate the fact that he is in office. How long will it take this simmering pot to boil over?

--Deborah Brault

Another way that Bush did not "bring us together" at his Inauguration was having both an invocation and a benediction that mentioned Jesus Christ. In these days of an increasingly multicultural country, does this mean that non-Christians are going to be shut out for the next four years? Seems so.

--Elaine Bloom

Read "Thousands protest Bush's Inauguration" by Daryl Lindsey.

I attended the D.C. protest on Jan. 20. The protesters were not merely "a who's-who of lefty causes." The crowd that gathered at Dupont Circle and marched to 14th and Pennsylvania included many who had never protested before and who were not affiliated with any interest group.

Without financial support or ideological prodding, thousands of us came to D.C. completely on our own. We came to join other Americans in opposing the institutionalized racism and classism that pervert our voting process. We came to alert George W. Bush to the deep divisions caused by his efforts to prevent the counting of valid votes. We came to remind the justices of the Supreme Court that under no circumstances will we relinquish our constitutional right to choose our leaders. We came to D.C. by twos and threes. We left united, determined that future presidents will be elected by the people, not appointed by the courts.

-- Jo Ann Vogt

By staying in his limo until he passed all the protesters, Bush shows that not only is he a thief, but he's also a coward.

-- RuthAlice Anderson

Midway through his piece on the protesters at Bush's Inauguration parade, Daryl Lindsey writes, "The hatred was palpable." Yes, the hatred was palpable, and speaking as one who, like Lindsey, was there, it was also frightening. Not frightening in any physical sense -- from my vantage point at 13th and Pennsylvania, the police and the line of Marines seemed to have matters well in hand -- but frightening in its implications for our political society in the next four years.

In reading news reports, one might be led to think that the protesters were motivated solely by their opposition to Bush. This was clearly not the case. As in Seattle, Prague and D.C. last year, the mass of protesters loathed Bush not as a political foe per se, but rather as a representative of the eponymous "system" that produced such supposed monstrosities as capitalism, the internal combustion engine and modern American society. This was the truly frightening thing about the Inaugural demonstrations: not that they threatened violence (though they did), but that they revolved around a common axis of social and political nihilism, with no possibility of common ground with those who disagreed.

What, after all, does the Florida vote have to do with the jailing of Mumia? Or the "racist" Plan Colombia? Or oil exploration on the North Slope? Or "the police war on people of color"? All are symptoms of our sick, racist, greedy society, said the demonstrators, and Bush is the locus of these evils. With great and vile profanity, screaming and baring their rear ends, they let us all know.

Meanwhile, the minority of us sat silently and respectfully in the stands -- including my fiancée, who loathes Bush but loves the presidency and our system of government.

Outrage and disappointment over the circumstance of Bush's election are well justified. Attacking our society and government is not. There is a difference between criticism and dissent on one hand, and smashing and destruction on the other.

That we, in a period of peace and prosperity, could produce the throngs of shrieking nihilists who showed up on Saturday ought to give us all pause. That is the real sickness of our society -- not capitalism, nor Bush, but a growing disregard for the institutions and common values that hold our polyglot society together. If the left could rightly denounce those who assaulted the presidency when Clinton was in it, then it surely can act honorably in not tolerating such behavior from its own ranks now that the tables are turned.

-- Joshua Trevino

I have taken my two daughters to protest rallies in D.C. -- one to march for choice and one to protest the Gulf War. I am anticipating at least one trip to D.C. in the next four years to protest against Bush/Cheney actions. I am certain that this administration will galvanize the people to action in a long-overdue effort to take back our government from the corporate pirates who have stolen it (with the help of their Republican puppets).

It is our duty and honor to "take it to the streets" to reclaim our government. I propose we get as many laughs as we can along the way from our new president's verbal ineptitude. It is both funny and frightening that the head of the most powerful country in the world can't put an intelligent sentence together. We will survive the next four years with humor and action. Enjoy, everyone -- see you in D.C.

-- Gail Larned

By Salon Staff

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