Sunday, March 28, 2010
(click on blog title to hear the song)
It happened in the thirties, it happened in the sixties, and it's happening again now. The public dialogue becomes so heated in troubled times that demagogues with media access, and conscience-challenged politicians pit one group against another for personal or political gain. Those who feel ignored and powerless begin to raise their voices and the conflict heats and simmers. Sides are chosen, people march in the street and hold rallies. After a series of frustrations, the extreme element becomes the loudest voice of protest and drowns out any chance for dialogue with the other side, and then the rhetoric turns ugly. As one side demonizes the other, the kettle boils over until some unhinged "law-abiding citizen" decides to alter history, and then somebody gets killed.
Medgar Evers- murdered, June 12, 1963
Pres. John F. Kennedy- murdered, November 22, 1963
Malcolm X- murdered, February 21, 1965
We are only one delusional psychotic, who wants to impress Jodie Foster, away from deadly violence, and so the Tea Party decides to take its circus of horrors, with their vitriolic speakers, on the road. Coming to a town near you; roving bands of surly, misinformed, Toby Keith fans, and they're armed. I'd like to ask the folks who show up at these rallies one question: who do you suppose is paying for this cartoon caravan to traverse the nation's highways, organizing pro-anarchy assemblies for the disgruntled elderly to follow around like a bunch of tie-dyed Deadheads? While the poor, oppressed white people howl about "taking their country back" from the evil, Fascist Democrats, they are being financed by ultra-conservative, billionaire families with names like Coors, Scaife, and Koch. Unlimited funding is available from racketeers like the American Enterprise Institute, or Freedom Works, the Tea Party's sponsors, to set up front groups to organize "grass roots" protests. The entire time the Teabaggers are railing against big government and the "Washington elites," former Speaker of the House, Dick Armey, is behind the scenes stirring the pot.
James Meredith- shot near Memphis, June 6, 1966
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.- murdered, April 4, 1968
Sen. Robert F. Kennedy- murdered, June 5, 1968
In the 30s and 60s, it was the poor and voiceless up against the wealthy and powerful. Now, the wealthy and powerful are paying the tab and pulling the protesters' strings to try and prevent any further progressive legislation from cutting into their personal fortunes. But the insane reaction in the wake of the passage of health care reform, including death threats, unbelievably vile voice messages, calls for vandalism against Democrats' offices, and violent rhetoric alluding to gun-play, equals the excesses of any 60's anti-war protest. Is all this rage really over giving thirty million people the opportunity to buy health insurance, or is there something deeper going on here? Although the leaders of the most recent Tea Party gathering in Nevada urged the crowd to tone down their nastiness because of bad press, the racist element is still unmistakable. These are the people who believe Barack Obama is attempting to take away their health care and give it to a drug dealer in Orange Mound for "reparations."
Fred Hampton- murdered by Chicago police, December 4, 1969
Kent State University- 4 student protesters murdered, 9 wounded by
Ohio National Guard, May 4, 1970
Jackson State College- 2 students murdered, 12 injured, by
Jackson, Mississippi police, May 14-15, 1970
I have no regrets about my participation in the anti-war demonstrations of the late 60's, but I do regret being associated with the Weather Underground. The conduct of protesters on the fringes of the argument succeeded only in further polarizing the country. On November 15, 1969, I travelled to D.C. with 500,000 of my closest friends, to march in the Moratorium to End the Vietnam War. As we walked towards the Capitol, I saw throngs of people, including entire families, making their way peacefully to the event. We arrived to listen to speakers like Dr. Benjamin Spock and Sen. Eugene McCarthy, and to hear Peter, Paul, and Mary and Pete Seeger lead the crowd in singing John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance." But right up front, blocking the view of the onstage speaker's platform , were a small group of Yippie radicals, who had staked out their prime real estate in advance, and were flying a giant Viet Cong flag. Whatever your feelings about the war, the North Vietnamese were holding American prisoners. Men I knew from high school were serving in Vietnam, and I understood that if flying the enemy's flag on the National Mall was repulsive to me, it would be enraging to those we were trying to persuade. The indelible image of the peace march in the collective consciousness was not one of peaceful assembly, but a few deranged hippies breaking windows and taunting the police.
Gov. George C. Wallace- shot, paralyzed for life, May 15, 1972
Pres. Gerald R. Ford- attempted assassinations, November 10 and November 22, 1975
Pres. Ronald Reagan- shot, March 30, 1981
Since Shakespeare said, "The past is prologue," I am now able to accurately predict the GOP's future. These stonewallers and provocateurs should try to acclimate themselves to minority status. While the Tea Party Express rolls into town like a pack of demented carnival barkers and fleeces the "marks" for contributions to help overturn settled law, the calmer three-fourths of the populace look upon the spectacle like watching bad theatre. Men dressed in camouflage and carrying weapons, and women holding homemade signs with inflammatory, racist slogans will not sway the opinion of reasonable voters, just like waving the enemy's flag did nothing to help end the Vietnam War. And, by the way, without young people, your movement is doomed. Because they're making the most noise, the Tea Party goofballs are convinced that they are on a victory march to overthrow the popularly elected government of the United States. They fail to see themselves as others see them and thus, will be the most surprised at their utter failure to affect change. Then, the rest of us will really have cause for concern. I pray for the vigilance of the Secret Service. From such political movements do Timothy McVeighs emerge.
John Lennon- murdered, December 8, 1980