- The Washington Times - Monday, November 17, 2003

Alan Davidson and Kfir Alfia are two serious guys with a wicked sense of humor. On a “lark” in February, they decided to get the “full San Francisco experience” with a night on the town and an antiwar rally the next day.

But they did it with their own twist. Their signs — hand-scrawled in the moments before the rally — didn’t exactly conform to the antiwar doctrine of the day:

“Except for Ending Slavery, Fascism, Nazism and Communism, War Has Never Solved Anything.”

“Communism Has Only Killed 100 Million People — Let’s Give It Another Chance.”

“Saddam Only Kills His Own People — It’s None of Our Business!”

And with the attendant drawing of a burka-clad woman with a noose around her neck: “Protect Islamic Property Rights Against American Imperialism — Say No to War.”

The two students didn’t intend to start a movement, but they soon found themselves in the center of a local media blitz.

At the time, Mr. Davidson was attending the University of Southern California film school in Los Angeles. Mr. Alfia was an engineering student in San Francisco.

“When we were [crashing the protest] the first time,” Mr. Alfia said in a telephone interview, “we didn’t realize no one else in the country was doing something like this. I guess I was surprised that we were still original.”

Almost immediately after the initial crash, radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh picked up the story.

“He was going ballistic over it,” Mr. Alfia said. “He thought it was hilarious, and he wanted to get a hold of some pictures of it.”

That attention helped them gain support. They created their own Web site — www.protestwarrior.com — and filled it with pictures and an online forum. Volunteers signed up for the next antiwar rally where they shot a video, “Crashing the Protest.”

“That’s when we really started getting what you could call ‘Protest Warriors,’” Mr. Davidson said, “who joined us from the beginning, who followed all the activities and were constantly debating.”

The group has raised money by turning its slogans into T-shirts and posters, including a popular red, white and blue poster that mocks French opposition to the U.S.-led war with Iraq.

“Conservative activism” is still an oxymoron, but the Protest Warriors have found sympathizers everywhere they have counterprotested.

“Conservatives,” Mr. Alfia said, “aren’t the type of people to go rallying in the street, aren’t the type of people to take up a sign and go protest in large numbers.”

The main ideas that motivate them, they say, are simple: liberty for all people and demonstrating the intellectual bankruptcy of the left.

“I think this war in Iraq has really polarized everyone,” Mr. Davidson said. “Our main enemy we call ‘the left,’ and we see they’ve aligned themselves with Islamic theocracies that are the direct antithesis of their purported values. So what we’re seeing is that this is really about between those who believe in liberty and believe in freedom and those who believe in statism, government power.”

Most of their support comes from college students who feel excluded by a campus climate that tilts left.

“I think we’re showing that you can be an idealist for liberty,” Mr. Davidson said. “There’s kind of this paradigm that you can be an idealist and be a socialist, or you can be a crusty old realist conservative. We’re showing that nothing can be more exciting than to be a freedom fighter for liberty, and we’re giving people the intellectual ammo to do it.”

Alexis Zoberg discovered the Protest Warriors while searching for such a group. She wanted to provide a counterpoint to a Palestinian rally at Rutgers University.

“I’m a college student, so I’m exposed to a lot of liberal agendas, those within the classroom and the organized events on campus,” Miss Zoberg said. “I guess you could call it a breaking point, where I just figured someone has to put out the other message because it’s not really getting put out there. Protest Warrior is the perfect venue for that.”

Sometimes support comes from the most unexpected places. Cathy Mossholder of Setauket, N.Y., is a self-described middle-aged housewife and “flaming environmentalist Democratic supporter.”

But Mrs. Mossholder proudly marched down the Mall with the counterprotesters at last month’s antiwar rally in Washington. She said she is disappointed in the level of debate on American foreign policy.

“Let’s talk about it,” she said, “instead of cursing and screaming and [using] profane signs. I’m more than willing to listen. …

“I had a man tell me that I was horrible because of the Crusades, to which I responded, ‘I had no idea the United States was involved in that war.’ I mean give me a break here.”

It didn’t take long for the Protest Warriors to ruffle feathers at an Oct. 25 antiwar rally in Washington sponsored by International ANSWER.

The counterprotesters were moved behind a barricade of police motorcycles across the street from the antiwar rally. A few of the Protest Warriors were shoved by antiwar activists. One counterprotester had his sign ripped down and his wife, five months pregnant, was shoved. A 10-minute shouting match ensued between the two sides.

Tim Sanders, a computer-science major at Westchester Community College in New York, said he found common ground with one of the antiwar demonstrators.

“We had some mini-debates,” he said. “I’m opposed to the Patriot Act, and when I told him, he seemed genuinely impressed.”

Mr. Davidson and Mr. Alfia plan to release a video documentary of their Washington demonstration. It’s all part of their goal to “bankrupt the left intellectually,” they say.

“Up until now I think the left has had a stranglehold on who is creative in the debate … who has style, let’s say,” Mr. Alfia said. “I think that is another powerful point that we bring. We do things creatively, and with a sense of humor, that for the most part has been pretty absent from the conservative movement.”

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