It's the eleventh of December, and they are out in record numbers for their monthly demonstration. They arrive in cars, and stand in the rain for two hours, holding up signs, more than twenty demonstrators on the street corner. Amy, An aspiring singer with an enthusiastic smile, wheat colored hair, and a bubbly yet sincere personality hands out DVDs, while others hold up giant banners which amount to a portable billboard. Altogether, it's not too unusual of a sight for Los Angeles, and in particular for Hollywood. However, there is one major difference which stands out from the many protesters one encountered in the not very distant past. They are mainly in their twenties and early thirties, and many are clean cut, they carry American flags, and as a whole are dressed conservatively. Many wear camouflage coats to fight off the rain. While they come from various political backgrounds, from right and from left, they are certainly not the hippy left which has historically been the most vocal group in California politics, on the street corners and in Sacramento.
The crowd is primarily composed of members of We Are Change, a group founded in New York after the attacks of September eleventh. The banners boldly proclaim in lettering half a foot: “9/11 was an inside job.” and it's a position which while alarming to some, is fairly mainstream among those under 25. The “9/11 generation” as it was labeled by those wishing to sensationalize tragedy, will never forget the attacks of September 11th 2001. To those who were still growing up, it was a formative experience. What could not have been anticipated by anyone at the time, however, is that the platitudes echoed out for the love of freedom by those in power, would become a force which is beginning to shake the political fabric of this nation. The fervent nationalism endorsed by the media soon died down in the hearts of those with careers and footholds in the establishment, but amongst the youth, it took hold in an unexpected manner.
While to many in the political arena, 9/11 was proof that we “could no longer afford to do things as we had” and a rationale for increased censorship, security, and new laws to combat this mysterious phantom, there is a growing belief that a government which would pass laws such as the Patriot Act is not above murdering it's own citizens to increase it's power over their lives. The Truth movement is growing, and amongst America's youth, it's mainstream, as evidenced by the many passers-by who agree with the message spelled out by the demonstrators. There's more to the movement than simply questions about 9/11, however. In a society where it's not uncommon to hear of policies that would be shocking to Orwell, the Truth movement provides a vent for the pressure, a place where one can exchange taboo ideas without fear, and a support network for those who have been or felt ostracized for their very thoughts.
Charles Webb, 19, on vacation from Ocala Florida, identifies primarily with what he describes as the “non-compliance movement” and resistance to excessive authority. He spoke with this reporter of the illegality of taxes, both property and income, and of sustainable living. He spoke with passionate frustration of the necessity of money to simply live one's life, and with aspirations of living off the land, sentiments shared by many young people in today's society.
Tatiana, 19, from Los Angeles, stated when interviewed that she was standing in the rain holding a sign, because she wanted people to learn the truth. She spoke of philosophical points such as how “people don't mean what they say, and throw around words like love, or hate, to describe everything.” In many ways, her idealistic and yet sincere philosophy could be mistaken for the average college liberal, but one thing stood out, distinctive of the Freedom and Truth Movements as a whole. When asked about the constitution's more controversial points, Tatiana said “I don't like guns, but I support other people's freedom to have them." An intense difference from the mindsets of many elected officials is characterized in her simple statement, but she's by no means Un-American.
These attitudes, amongst others, are what distinguish the 9/11 generation from the radical youth of a half century ago, whom they might otherwise resemble; there is no sympathy for even the most idealistic of tyrannies, and an almost spiritual reverence for the concept of individual freedom. There is a general attitude that our problems come from a government which won't obey it's own Constitution, it's own rules, and not from any one political party or policy, but an out of control State, mechanized to constantly expand and encroach on the common man. Perhaps, after much introspection, America will find that after sixty years of fighting foreign wars in the name of damaging the Soviet Union, she has begun to resemble it, with her state socialism and her disregard for human rights so rampant, that the very founding principle of this nation, Human Liberty, has become counter-cultural. It might do this nation good to ask itself: Are patriots the new hippies? If so, then perhaps it's time to ask "where did we go wrong as a society?"