It was a Nuremburg moment. Fueled by the 911 "terrorist attack," Ohio State University graduates, their families, and friends were mostly in the same frame of mind as Germans after the burning of the Reichstag: they were all geeked up for simple-minded nationalistic jingoism which Resident George W. Bush supplied. The Selected One dotted the i on a big-ol' script Ohio so big that Osama bin Laden could read it.

I ran into Yoshie Furuhashi at Hempfest on the Saturday before the June 14 graduation/indoctrination to the New World Reich rally. As usual, she was in hyperactivism mode. I did manage to catch the following words: "wouldya like to be a alternativecommencementspeaker at the turnyourbackonbush rally, bring your soundsystem?" I agreed to Yoshie's request as I always do. After all, she's being honored at Community Festival this year for her energetic and consistent activism at OSU this past year.

Sometime after 11:00 p.m. on Thursday Yoshie gave me the bad news, "Be there at 6 a.m. for the protest!" Earlier in the day someone with the pro-hemp group For A Better Ohio had called and said that they were planning a rally at Mirror Lake starting at 11 a.m., the same time Bush was to begin speaking and five hours before those wishing to enter the "Shoe" were lining up. Alas, a clash of cultures. When I arrived at 6:30 a.m. at the southeast corner of Tuttle Park Place, over 50 protesters had already gathered in front of the faux Greek columns. Thousands of sleepy but proud parents were on the other side of Woody Hayes Drive eagerly awaiting the possibility of a full body search in exchange for the privilege of seeing the President receive an honorary Ph.D.

Yoshie insisted I do "that Fatherland Security speech." It sounded like a good idea. The Buckeye faithful were in no mood for reasoned reflection or thoughtful dissent. Before I spoke, a blonde female graduate who had gotten out of the wrong side of her sorority bed, started throwing a tantrum: "You fucking assholes! Why do you have to come out here and wreck my graduation day? You're such assholes!" I quickly explained to her that she was right, our rally had nothing to do with the First Amendment or peaceful dissent. We had been secretly paid by her ex-boyfriend Biff to wreck her graduation day by dressing up as riff-raff demonstrators. I told her she was right - it was all about her.

I ended by explaining what they already knew. That this endless and limitless war against "terrorists" could take a year, ten years, a thousand years . . . and that we all simply needed to believe, obey and fight. Indeed, Bush had the courage in our darkest hour after 911 to tell us to go forth and "shop." Since we're in Columbus, it's assumed such shopping would take place at tax-abated high fashion malls in distant suburbs. He also had the courage to offer tax cuts to our wealthiest citizens and corporations and, occasionally, in moments of lucidity, he had actually strung together two or three complete sentences.

Before I left at 7:30, I counted about 75 protesters. About a third of them were planning to go in the stadium. It was clear to the demonstrators that things could get ugly real quick once inside the Buckeye football temple. A few demonstrators remarked that University Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Richard Hollingsworth had threatened people with arrest and expulsion at Thursday's graduation rehearsal if they demonstrated against Bush inside the stadium during the graduation ceremony.

As well-known Green Party activist Hillary stated in a turnyourbackonbush interview: "Then came the practice graduation. All the graduates were sitting there in the stadium and for the first time the announcement was heard that if you stood up and turned your back, you would be arrested and if so, you would not graduate."

"That threat, and the threat announced during the event's 'welcome' the following day, changed the whole feeling of the protest. It did not change my decision to stand, but I'm sure it did for hundreds, if not thousands of others," Hillary said.

Both the AP and the Columbus Dispatch reported Hollingsworth's threat to the graduates. Most of the other mainstream media missed it. TV news coverage conveniently avoided the 75-100 demonstrators at the event between 6:30-7:30 a.m. They also failed to cover the 50 or so who remained until the bitter end. As Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) proclaimed in their Action Alert issued on Monday, June 17, the Washington Post, one of America's so-called "liberal elite" newspapers, had ignored the threat and called the commencement address a sign of a "revived" presidency.

The Post reported Dana Milbank wrote: "If there was a protest in the stadium, it was not visible to reporters." Perhaps the vantage point of the media caused the Post reporter to miss the dozen or so people who stood and turned their backs on Bush. As to why the Post failed to mention the threat of arrest and expulsion is a mystery.

"There may have been no protest visible to the Post reporter, but, as other media reported, there may have been other reasons for this in addition to 'adulation' for Bush," a FAIR report read. FAIR's alluding to the threats and their chilling effect is echoed in some student interviews on the turnyourbackonbush website and with the Free Press.

As Hillary recalls, "I found myself the only one in my vicinity who wasn't clapping at (OSU President) Kirwan's introduction. When the time came to turn my back, my heart was pounding. I thought I was the only one in the entire stadium doing it. After everyone else had sat down, some fellow graduates were pointing at me. . . ."

Jeff, another graduate, and his three-year-old child were immediately escorted out of the stadium after he turned his back on "Shrub."

"We never got to see how many students participated. We were being led out of Ohio Stadium. To the officer's credit, he realized there was a three-year-old in my arms and was not at all hostile. I asked him if I was under arrest and he did not answer me. When we reached the exit, I asked the SS man why we had been ejected and he told me we were being charged with disturbing the peace. If we chose to leave, the charges would be dropped immediately," Jeff said.

Another early morning protester, Joe, a young alumnus, Class of 2000, took the tickets being offered to demonstrators and headed to the nosebleed section on C deck. I returned to the demonstration around 11 a.m. as the Resident began his speech and talked to Joe at the end of commencement an hour or so later. The first thing he said was, "Did you hear that really loud roar?" And indeed, the demonstrators had heard one thunderous roar. "That was the people cheering when they said they were going to arrest us."

Joe reported that he had stood and turned his back on Bush and on his way out, some old guy glared at him and another guy punched him in the back. Joe would relate these incidents in his online interview: "One guy actually hit me in the back on his way out. He muttered something, but I couldn't tell what. The punch was pretty weak (I think he didn't want the SS guy to bust him), leaving me more surprised and curious than intimidated."

As Joe was relating his tale of being assaulted, another scuffle broke out after graduation. One baby-Jesus-lovin' patriotic god-bless-the-buckeyes old-timer had had enough. He ripped down a long sign planted in the ground on one end and held on the other by an innocuous and silent student. The evil pro-terrorist message? Bush and Taft are harming higher education through budget cuts. I immediately ran over as Director of Fatherland Security to assist the old patriot. I shouted to him "This is the free-est and greatest country in the world! We need to tear down all these signs, suspend the Bill of Rights, and proclaim Bush the Shah! And arrest all these demonstrators!" I tried to get him to chant "Freedom is fascism" but I think he was overwhelmed by my massive display of patriotism.

Inside, the Commander-in-Chief had told the crowd that, "Government has essential responsibilities: fighting wars and fighting crime . . ." He went on to name other things, but making peace was not on the list. He told the graduates that, "We are commanded by God and called by our conscience to love others as we would want to be loved ourselves." I guess this would explain his recent authorizing of the CIA to establish their own paramilitary pretorian guard to assassinate leaders around the world, including Saddam Hussein, since George and God can't seem to find Saddam's arch enemy, Osama bin Laden. I was hoping for something more imaginative, like the Mideastern Evil Dictator of the Month Club.

"Our nation is the greatest force for good in history," Bush commanded. Thank God our troops are on Saudi Arabian soil and all over central Asia for sheer goodness, not oil. Sure, coincidentally the troops in central Asia are stationed along the path of the proposed Unocal/Enron pipeline that will bring oil to the Western nations. Bush also remarked that "service in America is not a matter of coercion; it is a matter of conscience." Coercion is reserved for Ohio State administrators.

"You will show your love and allegiance to the United States, which remains what it has always been, the citadel of freedom, a land of mercy, the last, best hope of man on earth," Bush proclaimed. No doubt the crowd choked up as they thought of U.S. sweatshops throughout the Third World, the Golden Arches of McWorld, the taste of Coca-Cola and the Patriot Act: "Spying mach frei." The U.S. military budget is now $379 billion; our 12 greatest enemies are spending $109 billion put together. We're just trying to do good with our military spending; they're just trying to do bad.

Tim, a non-OSU student but an anti-sweatshop and anti-war activist, was inside. His response to the speech: "I was creeped out."

When asked what Tim would do differently if he had another chance to attend the commencement, he said, "I would have stood up when Bush was speaking and yelled out the facts on who he is and what he represents. I would have also yelled at the audience that they should be ashamed of themselves when the[y] cheer over dissent being crushed as they look more like a Nuremburg rally than a democracy."

Another young blonde female showed up after graduation, excited. Fearing there would be another Aryan sorority moment, I was pleased to see she was wearing a peace sign on her graduation cap. She told the remnants of demonstrators, "Some of us got our message out, anyway." Despite the threats, despite the Nuremburg pep rally, dissent lives at Ohio State University - even inside the Shoe and on Woody Hayes Drive.

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