As an exercise in citizen journalism, we put out a call to readers to attend yesterday’s demonstrations in support of illegal immigration, film them, and send us the resulting video. We didn’t know what to expect, but the results were gratifying. We got lots of submissions, both of video and photographs. As a result, we’ve put together a Power Line Video of yesterday’s rallies, from Seattle to Washington, D.C., which you can watch here.
We intended this as an experiment to see whether this type of citizen journalism can work; our conclusion is that it certainly can. We also learned valuable lessons that will help us do this more effectively next time.
What conclusions do I draw from the materials we received? You can judge for yourself, but I would make two broad observations. First, notwithstanding mainstream media accounts that portray the turnout as vast, most of the rallies struck me as of modest size. The flagship demonstrations were pretty big; most of the others looked small to me.
Second, despite the blowback against the display of Mexican flags two weeks ago, and the distribution of American flags by leaders of some of the demonstrations, many of the demonstrators are still defiant about carrying the flags of Mexico and other Latin American countries and displaying radical slogans and images, thereby undercutting the “all-American” image of the rallies that most of the mainstream media worked hard to present.
This point can be made strongly by focusing on yesterday’s demonstration in New York, and considering its coverage in the New York Times. The Times reported on the nationwide rallies here in a story that was almost entirely positive. The large photo that leads the story shows a sea of American flags, while the Times’ story begins:
Waving American flags and blue banners that read “We Are America,” throngs of cheering, chanting immigrants and their supporters converged on the nation’s capital and in scores of other cities on Monday calling on Congress to offer legal status and citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants.
The demonstrators marched under mostly clear blue skies with Spanish-language music blaring, street vendors selling ice cream and parents clinging to mischievous toddlers and the banners of their homelands.
Check out the portion of our video that shows the demonstration in Washington, and see how well it matches this cheery description of “street vendors” and “mischievous toddlers.” And, of course, all those Mexican and Honduran flags aren’t intended to be belligerent, they’re just “banners of their homelands.”
The Times covers the demonstration that took place in the paper’s own city here. Again, the paper’s coverage is entirely positive, although it implicitly acknowledges that turnout in New York was disappointing. The Times notes the presence of Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, who addressed the rally, but it makes no comment at all on who organized the demonstration.
In fact, as our video shows, the New York demonstration (like those in some other cities) was organized and controlled in substantial part by International A.N.S.W.E.R., the Communist organization that we have written about many times, most recently here. A.N.S.W.E.R.’s National Coordinator, Brian Becker, was prominent at the New York rally; he is the man in the blue shirt on the right in the photo below. Click to enlarge:
Note A.N.S.W.E.R.’s large “amnesty” banner with the words “Full Rights For All Immigrants!” as well as the Che Guevara banner.
International A.N.S.W.E.R. passed out thousands of mass-produced, yellow and black signs with exactly the same message. You can see them prominently displayed in our video footage from New York. Here, though, is what I think is even more interesting. At either of the two New York Times pages linked above, you can also link to the Times’ own video of the New York demonstration. Take a look at it.
Look at the sea of yellow and black, International A.N.S.W.E.R. signs. They vastly outnumber all other signs and banners. They are the dominant visual image of the New York demonstration. It is inconceivable that the Times’ reporters could have failed to note the prominent role played by A.N.S.W.E.R. in running the demonstration, or the dominant role played by that group in equipping the protesters with signs. Yet the organization’s role was not acknowledged by the Times, or, to my knowledge, by any other newspaper. Why? The Times’ reporters were obviously aware of A.N.S.W.E.R.’s prominent involvement, and thirty seconds’ worth of research would have disclosed the fact that the group is an unabashedly Communist organization. It wouldn’t have taken much more than that to learn that A.N.S.W.E.R.’s National Coordinator has said that illegal immigration can be the “catalyst for a broader class struggle, even possibly a revolutionary struggle.”
Now, I’m not suggesting that most of those who carried A.N.S.W.E.R.’s signs in yesterday’s demonstrations sympathize with, or are even aware of, that group’s extremist agenda. But isn’t A.N.S.W.E.R.’s role newsworthy? Isn’t it something that newspaper readers need to be aware of, to get a balanced picture of the demonstrations?
The Times doesn’t think so. The Times made the editorial judgment that you’re better off not knowing who was responsible for that sea of yellow and black signs so clearly depicted in their own video. Because, when mainstream media organizations start referring to “mischievous toddlers,” it’s not hard to figure out whose side you’re supposed to be on.
Which illustrates pretty well, I think, why we need citizen journalism.
Thanks to all who sent video and photos, and thanks especially to the tireless Joe Malchow, who assembled the Power Line Video. There were a number of other sites that put up pictures and movie footage of yesterday’s demonstrations, some of which also contributed to our movie. I’ll try to get links up to as many of those sites as I can later in the day.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin attended the Washington demonstration and posted both photos and video. At 3:35 this morning! Her site has lots more, just scroll.