While watching the events unfold in the Muslim world and beyond today (check out this handy explanatory map charting all the disturbances, via Aljazeera), I kept wondering how many of the protesters were actually protesting what their leaders said they were protesting?

I recall participating (as a member of the High School Mobilization Committee To End the War in Vietnam) in a demonstration in Atlanta in 1970 targeting the appearance of Vice President Spiro Agnew at a downtown Republican fundraiser. As we began marching around the Marriott, the ever-resourceful Trots of the Young Socialist Alliance (the youth wing of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party) deployed Viet Cong flags at both ends of the column, along with bullhorns held by their sparse but well-organized comrades who drowned out the peaceniks trying to sing “Give Peace a Chance” with such catchy chants as Ho, Ho, Ho-Chi-Minh! The NLF is gonna win! Presto change-o, a crowd of a few hundred middle-class antiwar kids was transformed into a disciplined cadre of dedicated Marxist-Leninists.

I suspect there’s some of that dynamic occurring today.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.