image credit: Elvert Barnes
I was checking the sitemeter, which shows what computers have chosen to view pages of my blog, and found several over the last two days related to Oriana Futrell, whom I'd mentioned in an article on the Washington, DC protests that Congress and the Bush Administration have largely ignored. This mention has produced quite a few hits in the last couple of days. Determined to find out why, I did my own Google search of her name. Sure enough, she was on TV this week. She also, according to a German newspaper, was going to speak with some Senators in the following days.
There are literally a dozen unique hits having to do with this subject. By contrast, my recent mention of Molly Ivin's passing has netted a single hit. Ivins was a nationally known syndicated columnist who excited strong views. Mrs. Futrell, by contrast, is a 21 year-old college student.
Her home town newspaper's blog mentioned her yesterday:
Members of anti-war group CODEPINK spotted Oriana in her pink sweatsuit before a 10 a.m. rally at the U.S. Navy Memorial and invited her to speak.
Thanks to her sign, Oriana was soon telling thousands of protesters about the man she married in April.
She shared a stage with Academy Award winner Sean Penn and a Democratic presidential candidate, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. But accounts of the event suggest Oriana outdid the professionals, moving many in the audience to tears. 
Army wife expresses love through protest
She's also been mentioned by the Miami Herald, two German newspapers, and one in Australia.
Why has this subject evoked so much interest? No one has left comments recently on that page. It is certainly a human interest story of the sort our 21st century news organizations love to indulge in - the ones about pretty white people. Beyond that, I have no idea.
Perhaps I should mention Maria Sharapova or Tom Cruise occasionally.
In addition to what it says about our priorities, I think this also points out why protests, those noisy and sometimes disruptive things that many criticize as being ineffective in changing minds, actually are not. Jane Hamsher and Patrick Lang, whose opinions I respect greatly, have recently written that they don't find protests to be effective. I respectfully disagree, and I say this as someone who hates being in a crowd and who finds chanting and some of the other behaviors one sees at protests to be absurd. While they certainly turn some against a cause, they also bring notice to that cause, when otherwise people might pay no attention at all. Several people came to my article because they had some interest in a pretty young woman. Maybe one or two read the article and thought about the subject in a new way. That, among other things, is the value of protests.
Even when what really spurs that interest is celebrities or pretty white people.