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 . . .

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.)

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.

” How ironic from those who condone using babies as human shields.”

A writer tells of two Israel-related protests, one for and one against. 

Even the darkness could not completely disguise the hatred that emanated from the anti-Israel protestors who were on the way to join the protest and passed by us. We stood just near the crosswalk, so people faced our “We Stand with Israel” signs and the American Flag we held.

I thought to myself, “What an eloquent statement, an appropriate way to greet!” One protestor could not hold back and repeated “SHAME, SHAME.” Another joined in chanting “Children Murderers, Occupiers.” The first continued “Shame, Shame.” How ironic from those who condone using babies as human shields.

Slightly later, another woman became furious. She warned me, lest I was confused, “USA IS NOT ISRAEL.” She, too, like the man who repeated SHAME earlier, chanted her anti-Israel mantra with a practiced ease time after time. I imagine my smile irritated her as much or more than the flag and sign I carried. Just being there was all it took.

Having just returned from a mission to Israel, I still felt the remnants of jetlag. I could not fathom the reason for their vitriolic protest, or even why it was being held on this particular Monday afternoon when most people are not even in Los Angeles. A fellow reporter stopped to ask me why do we stand here. I replied that Israel is the last fortress standing in the way of radical Islam’s expansion to conquer the world, so for our own sake, we must support her.

The region is reaching a boiling point, I said, and the rattles we now feel are just precursors to an imminent major explosion. Iran’s evil tentacles have already spread via Iraq, Syria and parts of Israel to either side of the Mediterranean, like claws holding the sea from North and South. If Israel falls, the USA is next in line. For the sake of both, I said, we must stand strong together. For America’s sake, we must make our position clear and visible.

I can’t claim to understand the hatred that many in the middle east feel towards Israel; I can’t even fathom that sort of hatred, no matter how I try to explain to myself the problems in the region and that the people are looking desperately for a scapegoat.  But I know, regardless of what I do and don’t understand, that there is nothing acceptable about the attitudes displayed by the anti-Semitic side.

Code Pink is full of assholes

Pardon my crudeness, but, well, anything less would just be untrue.  Imagine this: You’re a little kid, and your dad has been called overseas to serve in A WAR.  You don’t really know what that means, but you know it’s very serious, and that dad will be gone for a long time.  Worse still, you’ve heard that sometimes, in wars, people can die.  Even big, strong soliders, like you dad.  You tried to ask mom about this, and she tells you that everything will be alright, but you notice that, even though she says things are fine, she sort of looks away when that subject comes up, and seems a little bit quiet for a while afterwards.   

So, you’re a little bit sad, you miss your daddy, and you feel a little bit scared to boot.  But, it’s Halloween, and you’re a little kid, so you’re mostly able to put it out of the way and focus on candy and costumes.  Plus, you get a special treat this year; the President (who you understand is a Very Important Person) has invited you to visit the White House to get candy this year!  So you put on your costume and get your candy bag ready, and you wait in line in eager anticipation of shouting “Trick or Treat!” to the President of the United States.  Then, while you’re waiting, you see this:

Dressed as ‘zombie soldiers’ killed in combat, ‘ghosts of war victims,’ witches and healthcare fairies, members of Code Pink menacingly paraded in front of a captive audience of children one block from the White House, who waited along the sidewalk in front of Decatur House just off Lafayette Park for a Halloween party hosted by President Obama. Last Saturday, the President hosted several hundred military families for trick or treating. Also invited were children of White House staff and about 2000 children from eleven D.C. area elementary schools.

 In a press release published at their website, key Obama ally Code Pink  – a group co-founded by one of Obama’s top funders Jodie Evans, announced they were targeting military families for what can only be called psychological abuse by conducting a macabre protest of the war in Afghanistan as the families waited in line to enter the White House grounds.

Is this going to convince anyone to change their minds on the war?  No.  Is this going to save any Iraqi or Afgan lives?  No.  Does this serve any purpose other than emotionally abusing a bunch of innocent kids and proving that Code Pink is fully cowardly attention whores who get their rocks off doing it?  Not a bit. 

 Bunch of fuckin’ assholes. (Obligatory pre-emption to anyone who wants to accuse me of not supporting free speech: I never said anything to suggest that these jackasses should be prevented by the force of law from performing their crap.  But there are similarly no limits to my freedom of speech to call them out on it.)

Evidence? Who needs it?

Once again, a prominent politician has made allegations against the protestors at town hall meetings:

Speaking to CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said: “We have these screaming groups on either side. That isn’t helpful. Let’s be honest about this. Town meetings are not bean bag. I’ve had hundreds of them, and sometimes folks get upset. And that’s part of America, part of our process.

“But this is clearly being orchestrated, and these folks have instructions. They come down from a Texas lobbyist in Washington.”

Durbin said that when “there’s a group of people honestly sitting in the middle trying to ask the important questions and get the right answers, and instead someone takes the microphone and screams and shouts to the point where the meeting comes to an end, that isn’t dialogue, that isn’t the democratic process.

“We need to respect free speech, but we need to respect one another’s rights to free speech, too. When these people come in just to disrupt the meetings, no, that isn’t right,” Durbin said.

Does Senator Durbin offer any evidence to support that these protests are “clearly orchestrated?”  Has anyone, in any form of the media, asked any of the people making these allegations to support them in any way?  If so, I haven’t seen or heard it.

It doesn’t even have to be a rude question.  At this point, I’d happily settle for a “Oh, why do you think that?”  But no one even asks for that.  “Clearly orchestrated,” well, that’s good enough for me!