HOLMBERG: Two million bikers didn’t happen, nor did a million marchers

Posted at 12:11 AM, Sep 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-12 06:35:44-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTVR) - Dozens of Central Virginia bikers gathered Wednesday morning at the North Richmond Harley Davidson dealership to ride on Washington DC as part of the so called “2 Million Bikers to DC” rally.

They joined thousands, likely tens of thousands of bikers, from across the country to counter the formerly named “Million Muslim March” on 9/11.

That march missed the mark by almost a million. There were less than 50 people present for the noontime rally on the mall staged to combat the targeting and vilification of American Muslims since 9/11. And more than a few in that crowd were curious bikers or members of the media.

Both events – particularly the bike ride - were hot social media topics that didn’t see a lot of exposure in the traditional media.

I rode my bike up to have a look at these two tribes meeting in their shared nation’s capital.

There were no confrontations I could see. DC police spokesman Paul Metcalf said he hadn’t heard of any fights or accidents or arrests as of 5 p.m.  He said reports that the DC police estimated there were a million-plus bikers were inaccurate, since they don’t make crowd estimates.

It was a balmy ride, but filled with camaraderie.  A hot topic: What happened to the Muslims?

I had an almost hour-long conversation with American Muslim Political Action committee founder and chairman MD Rabbi Alam. He downplayed the low turnout, saying the message of justice for “every single American” will  reach a million people “today and tomorrow, one step at a time.”

He said he believes it was people working inside the government – not the U.S.  government itself – who were responsible for 9/11 and that the result is honest, America-loving Muslim citizens have to live in fear.

September 11, 2001 was a day in which their freedom and innocence died,  he said, which is why he wanted 9/11 for the march.

Many of the bikers I spoke with said it was the wrong day for this kind of message, which is why they rode.

I  think bikers are a patriotic lot, often misunderstood,  feared, sometimes targeted by law enforcement, seen at times as outcasts in our society.

You know, I can see how many Muslim-Americans could feel the same way since 9/11.

That’s my take, please leave yours here.

(Although I’d appreciate not having a protracted debate about the million-plus biker claim by the ride organizer. Just know that virtually every protest and rally group that converges on Washington tends to be exuberant – shall we say -  about their turnout, which is why the DC  and park police quit fighting the crowd estimate battle.)