More crowd counting lies, less common sense

Women vs.Trump, NYT vs.Trump

In my last article I discussed the crowd sizes for the Presidential Inauguration Ceremonies in Washington DC, offering my rough estimates:

O 2009: 500;   O 2013: 350;   T 2017: 300 (in thousands)

 

while according to the mainstream media you’d have to believe the following baseless reconstruction:

O 2009: 1800;   O 2013: 1000;   T 2017: 250 or some unspecified number in the low 100s (of thousands)

 

Most news outlets chose to contrast Trump’s crowd with the Women’s March against him, where a large number of people gathered to express their anger against the newly elected President, on the Sunday following the Inauguration.

My (admittedly very) rough estimate: 400 to 500 thousand people at the March, based on the photos and the surfaces involved. It’s a problematic guess: too many different locations to cover, no aerial view, people moving from one place to another.

Among the worst offenders, the New York Times chose in a couple of article to state (through the authority of an expert) that:

• at the Women’s March there were roughly 470,000 people (in line with what I came up with on my own)
• at Trump’s Inauguration there were only 160,000 people (way, way less than any reasonable reconstruction), while in 2009 thre were 1,800,000 (ludicrous).

• For Trump’s Inauguration they used a fake (off-peak) peak attendance, crude outlining of the populated areas, ignored the crowd beyond the Mall, underestimated crowd density in the ticket area. Even through all of this, I stil cannot figure out how they could come up with such a low figure. (If anything, I’d say their Mall map made me question my excessive prudence. Maybe it really was 320K more than 300K after all…)

Talk about double standards!

 

The whole world (of media!) seemed in love with the idea that millions of women, in Washington DC and in many other cities around the country, were eager to vent their frustration against Trump, and they were significantly more than those who wanted to celebrate the President at the Inauguration.
So what? Of course rage inspires many more people to demonstrate, but this has nothing to do with the cogency of their assertions or their pretension to represent the sentiment of the country.

 

This march was somewhat of an unexpected success. They are planning a repeat on March 8 (which is internationally known as the Women’s Day, a festivity invented by Socialists and popularized by Soviet Communists, which is fitting). It’s described as a sort of “worldwide” women’s strike. It will be an even bigger success. Well, you know the etymology of hysteria, right?

 

“Women” vs. Life

 

Others chose to contrast this big protest with the Washington DC March For Life, an event that was held just 6 days after the Women’s March.
It’s a longstanding tradition across the globe: citizens, mostly Christians, letting their voices heard against abortion, year after year.

 

The 2017 edition of the March For Life got a prestigious last minute addition of VP Mike Pence as keynote speaker, plus the endorsement of the President. But these exceptional contributions came in too late to influence the attendance figures. After examining a video of the entire parade, I would very tentatively put the total at about 50,000 people. Media and organizers for once seemed unwilling to come up with attendance estimates.

 

The March For Life held in 2016 in Washington DC has been downplayed by the New York Times as involving “hundreds” of people; at the time the organizers on LifeSite claimed instead that they were 40 thousand.
I’d say the actual number must have been between 10 an 15,000. There’s a reason for this low figure: the weather was terrible due to snow (a blizzard of historic proportions had been forecast, most people cancelled their plans).
A pattern starts to form: the “newspaper of record” goes to great lengths to undermine a rally held by the opposite political side; the organizers exaggerate their success, just as their counterparts would under similar circumstances, but without a benevolent media landscape covering for their hype.

Fine, one may ask: but how come this year, under ideal conditions, basically the march against abortion involved one 8th to one 10th of those who marched against Trump?

Again, consider how energized you may feel when everyone around you is convinced you may be part of a giant popular uprising, a mighty push against the rise to power of a wannabe dictator that got to the Presidency.
Imagine instead how committed you’d need to be to the defense of the life of the unborn, when traveling hundreds of miles to get to a march that most of the media will ignore, with no expectation of being able to influence public opinion or change the reality of abortion in the foreseeable future. I’d say it’s actually remarkable that so many people choose to go against the grain, facing adverse conditions, for what appears to be a lost cause.

 

Large gatherings are seldom expressing a form of wisdom. After all, a crowd had Jesus crucified and Barabbas freed.

 

Enough about the numbers. What is the spirit that those rallies represent? Are they really comparable?

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Beyond the nasty things said by celebrities, the vulgar displays of hatred, Madonna claiming she thought about blowing up the White House…

 

Women’s March against civilization

 

Who are the organizers anyway? What political agenda lies behind it? Under the big umbrella of the Left nowadays you can find all sorts of subjects: Rasmea Yousef Odeh, a convicted Islamist terrorist (who’s going to trial for hiding this fact from authorities when she immigrated in the US); Angela Davis, a Stalinist professor and longtime supporter of the violent racist gang known as the Black Panthers; Tithi Bhattacharya, a Maoist professor. You get the picture…

I’m sure that many of the organizers are only bitter feminists/ideologues and/or celebrities that wouldn’t want to impose Communism or Sharia Law on the United States, but you are left to wonder: then why aren’t them distancing themselves from such extremists?

Miniskirts in Kabul 1972, veiled women in Washington DC 2017

This is Linda Sarsour’s (bottom left) world: fighting against the US President in the name of “women”

Consider another organizer, Linda Sarsour. A well-connected Muslim activist that has been honored by Obama’s White House as a “Champion for Change”. She got targeted by a number of right-wing websites for a bucketload of good reasons. There’s a photo where she’s proudly making the ISIS sign; many of her tweets are controversial (to put it mildly), including a vulgar attack on Brigitte Gabriel and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, two women who risk their life daring to oppose radical Islam.
Sarsour wants Sharia Law to be imposed on the United States, and to naively try to entice Americans she offered a number of idiotic statements, for example praising the Saudi law that grants 10 weeks of paid leave to mothers (in her world way more relevant than the right to drive a car… but don’t forget it’s just a financial benefit for a family, possible thanks to oil money, but really not so special in comparison with what European laws guarantee). Or suggesting that once Sharia will be implemented, your interest rates will go down to zero, including credit cards (yeah, right, tell that to a world in a slump due to deflation, where a major problem is represented by excessively low interest rates… Would you lend money through a credit card to an average American, typically prone to incurring in excessive personal debt despite the credit card rates, in a hypothetical future when he’s not supposed to pay any interests?)

Beyond her narcissism and relatively significant reach, she smells toxic: I’d say 20% obfuscation and leftist code words, 80% Islamist propaganda.

 

Guess what? After people attacked Sarsour, the ineffable Snopes came to the rescue. Even they couldn’t come up with a meaningful defense, despite trying. They essentially countered the factual accusations by reporting her own words. Of course she wants to deny her ties to the terrorist organization Hamas! But she still identifies with her imprisoned terrorist relatives and opposes Israel. Of course she wants Sharia Law in the US, but she is asserting, against evidence, that Sharia is only binding on Muslims, therefore you don’t have to worry (for now, I might add).

 

This is the Left. Enabling delusional people who want “change”, thus creating huge new problems for disadvantaged groups they claim to defend and empower. But don’t look at those inconvenient facts, look at the crowds chanting all the right slogans!

 

 

In Italy: Leftists vs. The Family

 

A few reference points. In my country very few people believe the numbers offered, it’s mostly a game of “let’s pretend”. Some politicians have no sense of shame.

 

In 2008 the Italian Partito Democratico held a public rally at the Circo Massimo in Rome. They claimed to have gathered 2.5 million people there! My estimate is that they were around 80-100,000, based on actual photos; certainly not much more than that.

 

CGIL rally. Rome, Circo Massimo, 2009

Lying: Italians do it better. In fairness, a portion of the crowd is not visible here.

In 2009 the core leftist Labor Union labeled CGIL held a protest in the same location. I’d say they were around 80,000, maybe less. The organizers insisted that a whopping 2.7 million attended! You gotta love the gall of coming up not only with an astonishing overstatement, but with such a purportedly precise figure they incidentally surpassed the 2008 Partito Democratico fake record by 200 thousand (which is remarkably petty since they represent the same political camp!)

 

Of course representatives of the Italian right wing were guilty of the same sin, in multiple occasions. Same goes for Catholic organizations and pro-life groups. But -guess what- the media all of a sudden discovered they had a spine and disputed their claims!

In 2015 various associations, mostly Catholic, organized a “Family Day” in Piazza San Giovanni, again in Rome, in defense of the traditional meaning of marriage. An impossible figure of 1 million participants was suggested. Judging from the photos, I’d say that they were more than 150,000 but definitely not 200,000. Let’s say 170,000. This is possibly slightly less than in 2007, during the first Italian Family Day; but I couldn’t find any decent photo.

In 2016 there was another Family Day, this time at the Circo Massimo; the photos and videos show only partial views. It seems some of the media were very liberal with their use of images, taken from the worst possible angle or shot early.

My rough estimate ranges from 100,000 to 150,000. The organizers threw around the canonical  “1 million“, then when the place was filled one of them declared from the podium: “We are 2 million!”
All hell broke loose in the mainstream media from there: they absolutely needed to counter this false narrative. Many websites and leftist activists immediately became experts on crowd counting.

This was a crucial moment in Italy’s history, because the “Civil Union” law was eventually approved, changing the definition of what constitutes a marriage.
Leftists, LGBT groups and radicals organized a diametrically opposite event, called #svegliatitalia (Wake up Italy) held in (almost) 100 squares around Italy.
The usual suspects did their best to undermine the “Ultra-Catholic” fringe group in Rome and to praise the courageous vanguards of Progress that -you guessed it- proudly proclaimed they reached the impressive (and suspiciously round) number of 1 million participants!

The thing is, from most of those Piazze in Italian towns there was little to no coverage, but if you looked closely you could find evidence that a lot of them contained just tens of protesters (some even less than ten!), most were in the hundreds and only a few had a decent crowd to begin with (notably Milan, Bologna, Turin and Rome). Take two heavily left-leaning towns: in Pisa, a University town, there were about 30 protesters; in Genoa, my town, they must have been around 300 (despite the fact that the province of Genoa has about 1 million residents).
The grand total for the entire country should have been around 50,000.

In order to understand the stark contrast in this picture, consider the following.
Defenders of the family had to get to Rome, traveling for hundreds of kilometers. Defenders of the right to redefine marriage had to choose a suitable square in their town and spend a couple of hours there.

On one side you had a winning proposition, making people feel enlightened and morally superior, receiving tons of praise from every corner.

On the other side, mocked and chastised by the entire media landscape, you can find a Catholic constituency that hasn’t had a meaningful political representation for decades (non-Catholics, including other Christians, Jews and atheists, were only a symbolic presence). More importantly, the pro-family demonstrators had been left out in the cold by the Pope himself, plus they had been neglected or ostracized by their bishops, while almost all of the major Catholic organization either ignored the rally or opposed it as a bad idea!

Nonetheless, the pro-family rally gathered -at the very least- twice as many people than the proposers of the freshly minted human right to confer social status to an arbitrary pact/contract/relationship between consenting adults.

 

That’s not how it was sold to the public by journalists: the two rallies somehow cancelled out each other in terms of magnitude, leaving behind only the impression that the faction on the wrong side of history was pretending to trample on other people’s rights AND they were shamelessly lying about their actual popular support.

In hindsight it was a grave mistake to come up with wildly exaggerated attendance figures: you are called to higher standards than the Left.

Can you see how this story relates to what happened after Trump’s Inauguration?

 

The historic Pro-Family rally in France

 

One of the most prominent public gatherings of modern France was the “Manif Pour Tous”, a demonstration held in Paris, at the Champ de Mars, on January 13th 2013.
There was a significant argument between the organizers and public officials regarding attendance, because it was a march and not all people stood in one place at any time, complicating estimates. The Manif group insisted they managed to gather more than 800,000 people; the police came up with a 340,000 participants figure.

Again, this was a rally in defense of the family, against the idea that marriage could be arbitrarily defined as involving people from the same sex, thus impacting the rights of children. And again, the Government+media won, no amount of opposition could stop the revolutionary law.

This event underscored a political clash between a significant portion of French society and a government that was so hell-bent on crushing dissent and censoring free speech to get rid of traditional values, that during the most heated days of the confrontation it was quite easy to be arrested and put in jail for a night; a guy suffered such fate simply for walking down the street wearing a t-shirt with the Manif Pour Tous logo, i.e. a stock vector image of a family!

Don’t underestimate the importance of what is happening in France, even if you live overseas. The homeland of the Revolution still carries a lot of symbolic weight. It could also be seen as a testing ground. Leftist are becoming more and more intolerant of any dissenting voice. Nowadays in the land of the showy “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” slogan you could be jailed for posting an anti-abortion article online!

Back to the numbers.
My superficial analysis of the attendance on that occasion: I must say that the authorities should have been about right. Even taking into account a bit of anti-protester bias, I’d say there weren’t more than 400,000 people.
On the other hand it is true that events that find favor with those in power, like the “Marche Republicaine” (=March of the Republic, a massive rally meant to represent a reaction to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in 2015), are held to different standards. Over-hyped attendance figures are taken for granted.

The most recent example though, François Fillon’s rally on yesterday, March 5th, has been reported with “more than 200,000 people” in attendance, and I must say this figure sounds about right: evidently the fact he’s the candidate from the Right, but the traditional right, not the surging populist Marine Le Pen, mean that there’s hardly an incentive to either exaggerate or to undermine his support…

 

Conclusion: crowds are not counted, they are weighted.

 

Lincoln Memorial, crowd during the MLK "I have a dream" speech

A relatively unimpressive crowd during Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Bob Gomel/LIFE Magazine

As you can see, there’s a component of reality in the media portrayal of crowds at rallies and public events. But the actual numbers are weighted based on ideology.

Leftists can freely exaggerate their numbers, building a narrative about their obviously representing the people.
Conservatives, Christians, right-wingers aren’t allowed to do that, in fact at times they are the only groups that get their numbers significantly underestimated.

Some cases are special: the Women’s March against Trump was so unexpected, possibly for its being organized by minor players, that the media circus was caught off-guard: they didn’t try to over-hype the support for an event that (even if a perfect fit for their narrative) wasn’t planned, hence attendance figures were quite accurate, for once.

When researching this subject I encountered an obvious example of overstatement in the case of the “I have a dream” speech By Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963.
According to websites like Vox, at least 250,000 people convened there.
Most of the area in front of the Lincoln Memorial is occupied by a sparse crowd; it looks more like 25,000 people to me. I don’t think there were many people under the trees either, but even if we came up with a generous 50,000 figure, the alleged 250,000 sound hyperbolic.
The thing is, this was one of the most admirable and consequential speeches in America’s history: you almost feel sorry for the somewhat passable attendance, inferior to that of scores of forgettable and forgotten political rallies.
I wasn’t entirely surprised, since not all historic events are perceived as such while still unfolding; in fact, I remember reading that the following day MLK’s speech didn’t even make the newspapers’ headlines.

Therefore you may understand the thinking behind the 250K figure: an attempt at correcting history, giving MLK a proper crowd for the occasion, the one he should have had. For once I may agree with leftists on the spirit. But I’m still not OK with falsifying the record.
We’re use to the Hollywood-style epic: you either hold a speech in front of just 18 people and a stray cat, and yet manage to change the world (Americans love underdog stories), or you hold a speech in front of a million people, and that’s a triumph. 30,000 people instead is a bit anticlimactic.

There are lessons to be learned from proper, accurate history. Lessons that would be lost if reporters and scholars routinely embellished reports and adjusted data to serve their ideology. Even if it’s for a genuinely good cause.

Let people understand that the KKK had probably at least a rally in 1923 that gathered more people than Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech in 1963, at least marginally. Maybe they’ll learn not to be swayed in their judgement by passing fads and local conditions that may give a certain cause a kind of support -in street rallies- it doesn’t deserve at all.
But of course it’s hard to try and convince those who thrive on this kind of optical illusions.

 

 

Expect a lot of hype for the March 8 Women’s Marches around the world. And a lot of animosity.

Meanwhile, on March 4, grassroots movements organized a “March 4 Trump” in many towns across the USA; they wisely chose not to advertise a total number for the attendees, since it was significant but limited, although it must be said that nowadays, at least in some places, peaceful people and families with children wisely decide not to participate, expecting trouble.
Predictably, some leftist extremists chose to attack the marchers, while some Trump supporters sadly came prepared and equipped for the fight (one guy became an instant internet celebrity for his stylish riot attire, including a gas mask and a shield with an American flag on it).
Violence, too, should be recognized as not just a side effect, but a feature of a political discourse that is too heavily reliant on the voice of the street.

 

 

If you want rational and sensible approach to prevail, you’d better stop advertising the mystique of street rallies.
Of course, this is peanuts compared to what leftist extremists can get away with during their “protests” that often, at least in the US, involve looting and vandalism.
A mob is not a nice thing, journalists should stop pandering to the organizers that intentionally blur the line between criminal behavior and giving voice to social grievances.

 

 

Addendum- Peru against Gender Theory

Again on Saturday, March 4th, a march was held in Peru in many different towns, organized by a group called “Con mis hijos no te metas” (Don’t touch my children) that is protesting against school curricula based on gender ideology. This is not the first street demonstration from them and won’t be the last.
It would be quite difficult to put together the photos of all the marches (and I won’t even try) but the advertised total of 1.5 million people for the day seems, again, wildly inflated. Too bad, because someone could call the bluff and discredit a worthy cause. I think this kind of large grassroots involvement deserves to be recognized for its authenticity in representing the will of the -usually- silent majority, millions of people that are not used to take the streets, so that only the perception of extraordinary danger could mobilize them, and only in part.
They are protesting in the name of an entire culture, against the power of a few elitists that think they can impose their theories on the masses, thus reprogramming a generation of pupils. They deserve better.

 

 

UPDATE – after the March 8 protests.

The March 8 “repeat” rallies of the Women’s March were somewhat unremarkable. Even if they renamed the celebration “A Day Without a Woman” and tried to connect with the International Women’s Day, suggesting that a massive participation to their event, with lots of women skipping work to get to rallies, would force men to recognize the value of women’s contribution to society, in real life no one is impressed by this sort of rhetoric. There were lots of small groups of demonstrators in cities across the US & Western countries, but no one in the media seemed willing to provide attendance figures. Scattered & Unremarkable.
What they lacked in actual support, they tried to make up with inflammatory rhetoric and vulgar displays.
In Milan some women decided to protest (?) by pulling up their dresses, showing what kind of arguments they had hidden underneath. In practice no one knows or remembers what was the thinking, or the message, behind this kind of cheap exploitation and degradation of their bodies.
In New York City some Women’s March organizers staged an unauthorized protest in front of Trump International Hotel, obtaining to get arrested by NYPD as expected. Among them, Linda Sarsour.

Sad & Pointless.

 

UPDATE 2 – after the Rome March for Life, Milan March for Migrants (both on May 20).

People marching in Milan to support mass migrations

Again: is this really 100,000 people? (Source: ANSA)

On the very same day, last Saturday, two very different marches were held in Italy: one in Rome against abortion; another in Milan to support unfettered immigration.

The former was given the silent treatment: even the Pope barely hailed the pro-life marchers that went in Saint Peter’s Square to get his blessing. Since the initiative is sadly unwelcome even in Church circles, imagine how they should have been treated by the media.
Exactly.

The latter march represented instead the typical media darling: progressive, multicultural, deserving lots of publicity, praise and airtime.
Lots of politicians and attention seeker personalities/activists participated.

Now, at the March For Life “thousands” of people were said to be present. I couldn’t find a decent photo of the crowd. I’d tentatively pin the attendance in the ballpark of 5,000 (which is not that bad, considering the surrounding conditions, as I said). Minimal media visibility.

At the March Against Racism the organizers proclaimed that 100,000 people were present. As you can see in the above photo, this is again a ludicrous exaggeration.
I performed a back-of-the-envelope count based on a subsection (2000 people) from a different, wider photo. I’d put the total at around 10,000. Definitely way less than 15,000.
Therefore they inflated their estimate 10X to score a political win.

What’s outrageous: all the most important Italian media outlets, awe-struck by this manifestation of openness, solidarity and anti-racist slogans, parroted the organizers’ lines not even hinting at a smidgen of a doubt regarding the accuracy of the 100,000 figure.
The general public was sold a lie. By the very same journalists that were so eager to become experts in crowd counting to question the attendance claims for last year’s Family Day!
Again, double standards.

In addition, consider also that most (roughly 2/3rds?) of the participants weren’t Italians. This event was sold as the manifestation of a massive popular support for welcoming even more “refugees”, but other than the mayor of Milan, his entourage and a few personalities, plus a couple thousands of the usual Social Justice Warriors slash social workers, the core of the rally was represented by immigrants rallying in favor of getting more benefits at the expense of Italians. Sounds more like the vanguards of an invasion…

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