Looking for Hate in All the Wrong Places, Part II: A Walk in the Park

(Note: Part one of this piece is here)

     

Here’s what I didn’t see at the Chattanooga Tax Day Tea Party.  I didn’t see a single person questioning the president’s birth certificate.  Although I went deliberately looking for it, I saw absolutely nothing that indicated or implied violence. I not only saw no racism, I saw no references to the president’s race whatsoever.  There were no depictions of the president as The Joker (although I’m still unclear about why that’s offensive), a monkey, Hitler, or a witch doctor.  I neither saw nor heard any hint of vulgarity, save for one speaker who mentioned that the group has been called “teabaggers.”  I didn’t even see a confederate flag, and, in this area, it’s hard to drive down the interstate without seeing one of those.    

No one made threats (besides those of retribution at the voting booth), no one threw eggs, no one was arrested.  Beyond any doubt, no one crashed this Tea Party.  The most hateful sign I saw was one carried by a 12-13 year old boy, a quickly made creation of poster board and a black marker, which stated “Keith O. is the worst person in the world.”  (Just in case you’re not one of the approximately 6 people who watch Keith Olbermann’s show, he does a regular segment naming someone he disagrees with as “the worst person in the world.”  That is, he does this when he’s not giggling like a schoolgirl that people he disagrees with are transgendered or deserve to be called misogynistic names.) On the whole, it was like any other springtime event in the park.  The crowd was mostly elderly folks or families with young children; they sat in camping chairs or on blankets, some with umbrellas to hide from the hot sun.  Children and adults played Frisbee or tossed footballs, kids cooled off in the nearby fountain.  The perimeter was dotted with booths: vendors sold buttons and tee-shirts, local restaurants supplied food and drinks, candidates for office sold themselves.     

 
 
 

A few folks were on the kooky side, no doubt.  One man wandered around in a Captain America Halloween costume, complete with lumpy muscles, holding a sign which stated “Cut Spending Immensely Demons of Congress.”  Another, dressed as Jesus, if Jesus had been known to wear a dirty bathrobe with a leather belt and Birkenstocks, held a sign that read “Jesus: Libertarian.”  A man dressed in motorcycle leather, representing the Constitutional Defenders, preached some rather dubious tales of alleged liberty violations to all who would listen.  A group of several elderly mall-walkers held a sign proclaiming “Don’t Tax Me, Bro!”     

 
Jesus + Captain America= Awesome!

 Although we had no crashers, we did have a tenacious group of counter-protesters.  Well, “group” might be too strong a word; a college-aged hipster and a middle aged woman waved signs that said “Tax the Rich” and “Troops Home Now,” while another young man or two meandered about nearby, apparently too shy (and by shy, I mean embarrassed) to join in.  These folks were periodically confronted by elderly men, clearly veterans, who asked them if they had served, pointed out that they have worked for what they have, and otherwise told them what’s what.  The oldsters supported their right to speak, though, and no hard feelings seemed to follow.     

Even while disagreeing, they still got along

   

We didn't have crashers, but folks were certainly ready for them Even while disagreeing, they still got along

   

Counter-Protesters- Cute!

   

The event was unbelievably well-run.  Numerous volunteers, many in tee-shirts that read “Tyranny Response Team,” wandered the crowd.  They forbid politicians from politicking away from their booths, handed out booklets containing the Declaration of Independence and Constitution like they were Gideon New Testaments, and warned against yelling when the conversation between the counter-protesters and vets got louder to avoid being drowned out by the din.      

The speakers were mostly ho-hum local media folks.  The winner of an essay contest read his piece, someone spoke on the Second Amendment, another on the Fair Tax, another on liberty.  A ladies choir sang.  The crowd was so polite that I often felt bad about walking around to take pictures or updating my Twitter feed during the speeches.  The announcer warned us to respect the children and families by keeping our signs and comments polite and not to engage any crashers, but, in this crowd, there was clearly no need for concern. One the whole, the event was incredibly nice.  It was not a bit like the protests of my beloved sixties depictions, and it was nothing at all like the hate filled images that anti-tea partiers would like for you to believe.  It was, I dare to say, even a little bit boring.  More like a fair than a rally, more like a local park event than a protest.  I’d take kids to it in a heartbeat.  Heck, I wouldn’t take my grandparents, because they would come off too rowdy and vulgar.  (To be fair, they are Italian).  I went looking for bad behavior; I found absolutely none at all.    UPDATE: This piece is published in NewsBlaze here.  If you’re wondering where the right place is to look for hate, look no further than the French Quarter following a fundraiser for LA republican Governor Bobby Jindal, where a young volunteer and her boyfriend were savagely beaten in an attack that was apparently politically motivated.  I’m sure ABC, NBC, CNN, and Bill Clinton will be right on it.  I’m sure that all of the Dems in Congress are going to condemn it, just as soon as they get around to it . . .

Will be Live-Tweeting Chattanooga, TN Tea Party

Should start around 4:00 this afternoon.  Follow me @LyssaLR. 

The event site is here.

I don’t know, should I do it?

Recieved an interesting comment on my article “Looking for Hate in All the Wrong Places” from its link at Care2.

Just Carol wrote:

Just Carole (503)
Wednesday April 14, 2010, 6:09 pm
I hope you’ll accept this gesture with the grace with which it is offered. I’ve always thought that we could do so much more if we could concentrate on our commonalities.
 
(And, honestly? I don’t think I have any Tea Party members on my friends list.)
 
At CODEPINK, we are extending an olive branch to Tea Party activists. While we don’t support the goals and tactics of the Tea Party, there is an area where we are seeking common ground: endless wars and militarism.

I responded:

I appreciate your offer and your grace. However, I think that your attempt at a connection is misguided. The tea party movement (which I don’t speak for, though nor does anyone else, I guess) is about reducing the size of government, reducing government spending, reducing government control of our everyday lives, and reducing taxes. There appear to be a large number of veterans in the group. I do not believe that it would be in the group member’s interests to join forces with a group focused exclusively on anti-war efforts. However, if members of your group are interested in those things I listed, they are more than welcome to join the Tea Party movement; it’s very open. Just search for (your location) tea party, and you will certainly find an event that you can attend.

I do have a problem with what you said about not “support[ing] the goals and tactics of the Tea Party.” As for the goals, why would a group want to join with a group that explicitly does not support it’s goals? As for the tactics, I am not sure what tactics you are referring to, however, I would note that there are a lot of alleged incidents that are being reported as fact, when they have no support (despite hundreds of video cameras being nearby the alleged incidents). This was addressed in my article. The Tea Party has been explicit that it does not support racism or violence, regardless of what you might hear from those who stand to lose from its success.

I do, however, have a large problem with many of CodePink’s tactics. If you can tell me that the reports are mistaken or that the actors behind them do not speak for the group, I will reconsider, but I was extraordinarily dismayed when I heard about, for example, Code Pink’s disgusting attempt to psychologically torture little kids who have parents at war, as I described here . While I can understand an anti-war stance, I find the idea of Code Pink supporters calling for support for people who are killing our soldiers to be disgraceful. There are many other similar stunts that have been done under the name of CodePink that I certainly would want no part of, and I suspect that most Tea Party members would agree. Although, once again, I am not part of the group and do not speak on its behalf. Thank you for your grace. You are more than welcome to add me to your friends list, as I am always fond of interacting with people with whom I disagree.

I can see the logical connection between government spending and reducing our defense spending, but, knowing what I know of CodePink, I am certainly wary of this sort of “outreach.”  And, while it appears that she meant to be polite, I can’t accept the backhanded swipe at the Tea Party’s “goals and tactics,” particularly given the outrageous tactics employed by CodePink.  Any thoughts?  (I’ll add, just to be clear, that I am not a member of the Tea Party and have never been to an event (although I will be going tomorrow), so I couldn’t join forces in the name of the Tea Party even if I wanted to.  I’m just blogging it because it was interesting.)

Maybe a Woman Can’t Handle It

A review of What Sex is a Republican? Stories from the Front Lines in American Politics and How You Can Change the Way Things Are Terri McCormick, M.A., former Wisconsin state congresswoman.  Published by The Capital Press. 

Everybody knows that politics is broken and filled with corruption.  Everybody wants to change the way things are.  Terri McCormick entered the world of politics with the intent to do just that. 

Ms. McCormick started her political career by working to get a charter school law passed in Wisconsin, working against a great deal of opposition from teachers’ unions and other groups dedicated to the status quo.  She tells several harrowing tales about the resistance she faced from those who wanted to retain the status quo.  Particularly disturbing is a tale about her daughter, apparently because of her mother’s activism, had her desk moved to the back corner of the classroom and filled with boxes, presumably at the hands of a teacher who wanted to single her out.  On another occasion, an anonymous phone call warned her to check under her car before strapping the kids in.

Although these incidents are striking and legitimately disturbing, most of the rest of Ms. McCormick’s war stories fall flat.  Ms. McCormick presents virtually every case of opposition against her candidacy or her propositions as if it as well were a personal and unfair attack against her.  One incident, for example, involves her publically disagreeing with the Joint Finance Chair’s criticism of the governor.  Although she presents this issue as if she faced some sort of harsh and unfair retribution for daring to speak out, the story culminates with nothing more than a couple of her party members being critical of her.  Similarly, when describing her visit to Washington in an attempt to run for a national seat, Ms. McCormick spends a great deal of time decrying one sitting senator’s unethical behavior, which turns out to amount to nothing more than him telling her that he would be supporting her opponent.  Her outrage at the party and its treatment of her simply does not ring true, and is difficult to sympathize with, leaving me to wonder whether her lack of success was the result of her own weaknesses and thin skin, rather than any unfair outside forces. 

Throughout the book, Ms. McCormick presents herself as a populist, and asserts the values of grassroots-based populism.  However, in stark contrast to her expressed love of “the people,” Ms. McCormick makes numerous attacks on the credibility of bloggers, always speaking in broad generalities with no specific examples.  She ignores the extraordinary number of times that the “elite” media has mislead its viewers, and makes a case for us to trust the media based only on its alleged credibility.  In my mind, this reads as if Ms. McCormick has a chip on her shoulder about bloggers and is somewhat disingenuous about her love of populism. This, when combined with the stories above, lead the reader to question whether her biases are only based around those that have supported her verses those who have not. 

Indeed, the title of this book is perhaps most misleading.  Although she occasionally pays lip service to ideas involving sex and gender, and sometimes, when describing so failure of support, she throws out the question (without an answer) “Was it about sex?”, she never once gives a credible reason to believe that any of the actions against her were based on her gender.  In this way, her assertions appear no different from Obama supporters asserting that opposition to his policies are founded in racism.  From a description of the book provided by the publisher, some opponents of the GOP may hope that this book will reveal some hidden sexism that pervades its ranks.  They will be sorely disappointed. 

Approximately the first three quarters of the book are largely devoted to Ms. McCormick’s stories from the front lines of politics.  The remainder, however, is devoted to explanations and guidelines devoted to the second promise, how we can change the way things are.  Although many of the examples given are generalized and somewhat uninspired (“get involved!” “vote!”), she also provides a great deal of explanation as to how a political campaign is actually run. She encourages all who are interested to get involved and run for office at the local level.  She encourages people who want to make changes and solve problems to run for local office based on grassroots efforts.  Where all of that encouragement would be nice but somewhat banal, she separates this book by actually providing an action plan that describes, from start to finish, how such a campaign can be run and won.  Additionally, she provides examples and instructions involving how bills can be written and passed in order to allow her readers to take action.  These instructions and examples, things that I have always been curious about but do not believe to be widely available, could make this book unusually valuable to those who are interested in making a difference.  This may make up for the book’s other weaknesses.

Looking for Hate in All the Wrong Places

I’m somewhat sorry to admit that I’ve never actually been to a Tea Party protest.  In fact, I’ve never been to any protest at all; they’re just not my style.  Oh, I admit that in my younger days, I was somewhat intoxicated by the allure of hippie-dom, but it was all superficial.  My first year of college coincided with then-President Clinton wagging the dog in the mid-east, and the ensuing rumors of potential war led to many fantasies of growing my hair long and sitting around burning (my male friends’) draft cards while singing songs from Hair.  But then 9/11 came along, and I started answering the few pitiful attempts at anti-war protests with snide comments about whether we should wear our burkas on the way or just change when we got there. 

So, especially now, when I wear suits every day and have a professional haircut and a distinguished-sounding pair of letters following my name, I just can’t see myself standing in a crowd waving a clever sign at a protest, even for a cause in which I deeply believe.  I’m just plain more of the strongly worded blog post or pointless arguments with my friends sort of gal.  But, I do want to join the numbers who are showing their support for this cause, and I do want to be able to say that I took part in something that may prove vital to my children’s and grandchildren’s futures.  More importantly, I need to know what it’s like.  Friendly reports have made it out to be as many wishes and sunshine as the Obama Presidency was supposed to be.  The pure pathetic-ness of reports that aim to contradict tends to back this up.  But there are contradictory reports as well (although unsubstantiated or just plain wrong), and I can’t say for sure unless I”ve been, with my eyes open. 

So, this Thursday, I’ll be tea partying with the best of them.  I won’t carry a sign.  I never was any good at coming up with clever slogans, anyway (witness the name of this blog), and my handwriting is atrocious.  Most importantly, though, I want to ensure that my hands are free for working my camera and smart phone.  I want to document every part of this event.  I will be particularly on the lookout for anything that so much as hints at the bad behavior of so many accusations, and promise to document it to the teeth.  I’m not the most outgoing person, but, if I see anything that so much as hints at racism or calls to violence, I will make an attempt to speak to the person and find out his or her thoughts.  There have been allegations that the not so loyal opposition will be attempting to libel and discredit; this, too I will attempt to suss out.  

I live in the south, in a truly red district.  We are exactly the unenlightened rubes in flyover country that liberals love to loath and scorn.  If there’s anything to see, I can’t imagine that I won’t see it.  If.   I don’t expect to see anything like this, or this, or this, but if I do, you have my word that it will get documented here.  Check back for results.

Update: Published this as a story at NewsBlaze.
Here’s a link to the event that I’ll be attending.

Wow

Instapundit actually linked my NewsBlaze article!  I’m extremely flattered!

(Reynolds is a former professor of mine, who I greatly admire, but I have to admit I’ve been too shy to show him my work.  I assume he wouldn’t recognize my name, as it’s a corruption of the name I went to law school under.)

My Favorite Springtime Dessert

OK, if given the choice, I’d probably still take this pie (speaking of which, I should make that next week …mmmm), but since pie generally takes a bit of advance planning, it’s nice to have something on hand that celebrates the season without a lot of fuss. 
 
This isn’t a recipe per se, more of a “way” to prep fresh fruit in minutes with ingredients on hand.  When strawberries start appearing in the bargain flyers, we make this several times a week. 
 
For 2 people, roughly chop 6-7 large strawberries and place in a small bowl.  Stir in about a tablespoon or two of sugar, depending on your taste and the ripeness of the fruit, and about 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar.  If you happen to have some leftover wine or flat champagne around, toss in a couple teaspoons of that, too. 
 
Ideally, you would let that sit about an hour to macerate.  Ideally.  If not, (particularly if your berries started out cold), microwave on low (I use the defrost setting), stirring every 15-20 seconds, until the berries are just ever so slightly warm (not hot!) and the juices are red.  Set aside.
 
In a medium bowl, beat some cream (about 1/4 cup) to stiff peaks with about 1 tsp sugar, more or less to taste.  If you like, you can add vanilla extract, almond extract, amaretto, or whatever else you like, but it’s up to you.  (Tequilla gives an interesting flair).  
 
Divide the berries into 2 dishes (lovely in martini glasses) and top with whipped cream.  Delish!