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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Anti-War Folks vs. the Anti-Anti-War Folks

The anti-globalization movement may be history, but the anti-war movement has a future. And yet, the anti-anti-war movement has a bright outlook, too.

This became clear Saturday as I stood amid a thousand or so protesters milling around in front of the World Bank headquarters in Washington, just a block from the White House. I had been there in April 2000, when a crowd perhaps 50 times the size had gathered to "spank the bank" for promoting capitalist globalization. That was a mostly light-hearted assemblage, protesting and celebrating everything from Starbucks to sea turtles. But now that Osama bin Laden, running his own multinational terror empire from Afghanistan, has shown the world another kind of globalization, this dwindled straggle of protesters on Pennsylvania Avenue seemed fewer, angrier, more bitter.

To be sure, a few merry pranksters dotted the crowd, proudly arrayed in silly, showy costumes. One man, for instance, wore a fake red nose and a gargoyle mask on the back of his head. His name? "Supreme Vermin."

I asked him what, if anything, had changed Sept. 11. "Good question. No comment," he said. Then he added, "Look, man, I'm a clown."

But others were more serious, such as Karly Whittaker, 25, a graduate student at the University of Iowa. I asked her the same question: What changed Sept. 11? "It brought home to me the fragility of our situation," she answered. And so what to do? "Let's not fight the wrong war. Let's get to the root causes. Let's evaluate sanctions on Iraq, our support for Israel and for military dictatorships around the world."

Another 25-year-old, Chris Shephard, a teacher in Tampa, sounded similar themes: "We can't turn tragedy into war." We must also, he said, "directly address the crimes of the U.S." He was sorry about the 6,000 people killed in New York City but wanted more to talk about the "1 million Iraqis killed by sanctions." Then he directed me to the anarchists: "They have some really beautiful and peaceful things to say.''

So I figured I'd learn some beauty and peace from the anarchists. After all, they were right there and hard to miss -- 50 of them, dressed all in black, their faces mostly masked, many with metal studded into their flesh as well as their clothes. I went up to one and introduced myself. "The corporate media lies. Can't help you.''

I made two additional interview attempts and was similarly rebuffed. So maybe they weren't so beautiful after all, unless one likes the looks of, say, bandits and Nazis. As for peaceful, I'm not so sure about that, either; one wore a leather jacket -- so much for peace toward cows -- with the words "Destroy Society.''

But these anarchists didn't destroy anything, maybe because the cops were right there. And far more than the anarchists, the police, dressed in full body armor, were ready for a rumble. Indeed, as I looked around, I realized that the cops had us surrounded; there were that many of them. Then, without any notice, one wall of them started marching forward, shouting and thrusting their batons. All of us, demonstrators, street people, journalists -- even the black-clad anarchists -- quailed before the thick blue line as it herded us down H Street, away from the World Bank.

So goodbye, anti-globalism, hello, anti-war. It was always a bit of a stretch to argue, as the earlier anti-globalist protesters did, that Third World peoples should be left alone by World Bankers -- which is to say, that the men of Afghanistan should be left alone with nothing except perhaps their harsh sexism and martial zealotry. But the anti-war sentiment that has now supplanted the anti-globalization spirit is likely to have legs. To be sure, their numbers will shrink, but those who remain in "the movement'' will likely be sharper and more concentrated, like coffee grounds at the bottom of a cup.

James P. Pinkerton is a Newsday columnist.