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Brandishing American flags and shouting slogans like “Disarm France!” and “Buy beer, not cheese!” a small group of students assembled in front of the Science Center Friday afternoon to protest the French stance in the U.N. Security Council.
But the ten student protesters, who described themselves as “The Organization To Defend America,” also had to face a counter-protest of about ten “anti-anti-French” demonstrators who began passing out pictures of the Statue of Liberty and shouting “Vive la France! Vive le Council de Securite!” before the anti-French rally had even begun.
Andrew D. Litinsky ’04, who organized the anti-French protest, appeared wearing a cowboy hat and carrying a boombox.
Nine more protesters soon followed, holding signs that read “Boycott French Products!” and “France’s Report Card: Contain Hitler: F...Contain Milosevic: F... Contain Saddam: F!”
“It’s more a pro-U.S. rally. It’s not against the French but against the French stance in the U.N.,” Litinsky said. “We think it’s just ridiculous for Americans to die while France just stands there.”
The counter-protesters began to sing the French “Marseillaise,” to the musical accompaniment of a trumpet.
And as about 20 spectators stood by, Litinsky placed his boombox on the ground and cranked up a sound track of Eminem rap songs, nearly drowning out the trumpet. Waving his arms like an emcee, he began to call out, “Wake up France! Time to go to action! Time to get Saddam out of power!”
His supporters waved posters and flags close behind. “It’s ridiculous to have an anti-French rally,” said Christopher W. Black ’06, a French supporter who arrived wearing a beret and a scarf around his neck. “They’re targeting a country just for contradicting the U.S.”
Black and two other students set up a card table, on which they placed a baguette and several wine glasses filled with soda.
He and his comrades sat at their table, smoking cigarettes in silent protest.
Nick A. Shifton ’04, said he chose to participate in the anti-French rally because “the protests have been unfairly one-sided and I wanted to support the other side.”
“We also need to send out the message that there are people at Harvard who support U.S. troops,” Shifton added.
While some passers-by laughed at the protest, one man began shouting at the anti-French protesters and a group of tourists stopped to take pictures.
“I have a lot of respect for this guy. It’s really brave” said Mark A. Hiller ’05, observing Litinsky. “It’s a shame their boombox keeps skipping.
David W. Huebner ’05, who lives in France, said he wasn’t offended by the protesters.
“I think it’s a kind of government-sponsored antagonism,” Huebner said. “It’s sad that it won’t help anything, and may only lead to more animosity.”
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