of the SUV: Conservation of National Security
Jason E. Lippert
In the true
spirit of the First Amendment (most notably the freedoms of speech
and assembly), protestors convened at a local Washington, D.C. Exxon
service station. Their purpose? A counter-demonstration against
a conglomeration of public interest groups including U.S.
PIRG, Greenpeace, and the Alaska Wilderness League calling
themselves the Stop Exxon-Mobil Alliance.
seeking to emulate the annual international event known as "Action
Against Exxon-Mobil Day," converged at an ExxonMobil service
station on Capitol Hill. This event was "one of more than 15
actions held across the country
which outnumbered the Alliance more than 2-to-1, was spearheaded
by the American Conservative Union.
two groups together created quite the festive event, which kicked
off with a counter-demonstrator (who just happened to be sporting
a star-spangled top hat) leading the crowd in a spirited rendition
of God Bless America. Car horns honked as drivers and passengers
cheered to support the counter-protestors. SUVs with American flags
draped over their hoods and waving from their radio antennas pulled
into the service station. Car-pooling passengers, each carrying
a large, brightly colored sign displaying support for the counter-demonstration,
poured out of trucks, mini-vans, and SUVs, many SUVs.
wielded a megaphone and called out chants, echoed by the rest of
the group. "WE LIKE TRUCKS, WE LIKE TRUCKS
just one of many cheers.
well not really, but a costumed figure depicting
him was. "Saddam" brandished a sign, flashy with enormous
red, blue, and green lettering stating "DONT DRILL ANWR,
I NEED THE $$$" on one side and "I HATE AMERICA, I LOVE
GREENPEACE" on the other.
stood a costumed Tiger (the Exxon-Mobil mascot) with a sign proudly
announcing, "SUVs are GREEEAT!" Other signs that were
massed among the more than 40 circling "pro-SUV" demonstrators
read: "MY CAR, MY CHOICE" and "SUVs HELP TO PROTECT
A group handed
out flyers with a picture of Saddam Hussein on one half and Senate
Majority Leader Tom Daschle on the other, posing and answering the
question: "Why is America buying 725,000 barrels of oil a day
from this man?Because this man wont let
America drill for oil at home." The flyer continued to debate
the issue of ANWR and its energy independence potential for the
came. This time it was to drown out the Greenpeace protestors
chant of "We Love Caribou." "Saddam" and the
gang enthusiastically retorted with "WE LOVE AMERICA, WE SUPPORT
A hand full
of protestors from the PIRG/Greenpeace "anti-SUV" side
were in attendance. They stood, huddled together on the corner of
the intersection, barely audible with melodic, almost iambic pentameter
chants of "Global warming is a fact." This, however, was
disputed by someone of the "opposition" who held a sign
stating "GREENPEACE 99% FACT-FREE" on one side and "PIRG
99% FACT-FREE" on the reverse.
Like most environmentalist
groups, Greenpeace opposes drilling in ANWR and stubbornly ignores
reports that show minimal risk, particularly in light of new, high-tech
drilling methods. As the Center for Individual Freedom and others
have repeatedly stated, ANWR has the potential of giving the United
States 30 years worth of energy, alleviating some of the pressure
that dependence on OPEC has created.
there was no real threat of violence from the crowd, the demonstration
was monitored by the Washington, D.C. Metro Police. Alongside the
police were a handful local television, radio, and print reporters.
As the crowd
slowly simmered down to more of a social gathering than a counter-demonstration,
the PIRG/Greenpeace protestors had disappeared. Perhaps they had
a "tanker-to-spray-paint" appointment at noon.
June 14, 2002]
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