Sunday, March 28, 2010

Free Speech or Hate Speech

"Have you seen that vigilante man/ I been hearin' his name all over the land." Woody Guthrie
(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


Jackie said...

I saw some teaparty types on the corner of Federal Highway here in Ft Lauderdale yesterday with lots of flags, anger, and lies flying. Ignorance and hate are so rampant and dangerous. Is that what free speech means? Doesn't have to be the truth?
Speaking of truth, thanks Randy, for staying honest.

Gregg said...

Beautifully written, Randy. Truly.

I believe that the American century has come to an end and countries with billions of people will continue to assert what their economies of scale allow...and we will inevitably see and feel that our standard of living is continuing to fall. We will no longer be able to expect that our dollar will purchase what we want, and for many, what we need. The pain of the relative fall of a once great nation, even when the precepts that made it great are still in place, is the pain that revolutions are made of. It's hard to go from always getting the girl to having to play right field instead of shortstop and no longer getting the high fives wherever you go. These times create the Nationalism that we've seen over and over again throughout history.

What concerns me is that in the over-weening attempt to reinvigorate our national spirit ripped by economic realities we'll end up electing some idealized demigod who will pick a fight with one of the other countries on earth who are attempting to manifest only what they have seen from us. He'll want to show them who's really BADASS...and who's really still in charge.

Bad scenario, yes. But, past is prologue.

Unfortunately, these are the times that require the most delicate sense of touch. It requires the maestro who can painstakingly but subtly tune the instruments of this 350 million piece orchestra to maintain some harmony. Someone who can help us find a way to ease into a new reality that could last for half a century or more...but, that was preordained by the physics of the flow of capital so there is nothing now to do other than to be wise.

There's a concept. Can we be wise? Who will help lead us to wisdom?

Rush? Dick Armey? Pence? Boehner? McConnell? PALIN?????

What we need at times like this are more guns in the hands of as many beer drinking alcoholics as we can find. We need to make sure that they are whipped up into false fervor carrying signs that read at cross purposes to what they really need. We need to have leaders who will try to make people on earth who are different from us in facial features, or color, etc, begin to look like aliens....and really bad mean spirited aliens at that... who want to eat our babies. Yeah, and we need to have some place to spend our fury at not being able to get what we want and to show our anger at not being the king of the hill any longer.

The Republican party in the United States of America in the early 21st Century is beginning to look like the early National Socialist German Workers Party in what remained of a war torn Germany in the 1930s. A bunch of obviously overly frustrated wannabes who never had the intellect to get anything really creative done for society who want to show their dead daddies (who they thought hated their guts and certainly didn't love them enough) how really strong they really are.

Oh, boy. Just what the world needs. More sad idiots who want power.

dondiego said...

Somethin' happnin' here. " For what it's worth". Steven stills "Livin' in the USA" Steve Miller. FREEDOM !---- DAGO

Anonymous said...

It's really ironic to me, that the comment that Barack Obama made on the campaign trail, and which he had to profusely recant, is the absolute truth of the matter. When asked a question about the reactions to the Palin rhetoric that he observed in the TV crowds, Obama said (paraphrase), "when things get tough, these people reach for their guns and bibles".

He disavowed what he meant actually meant by saing that, but we all know it waa true then, and it's certainly true now.... Help!


Anonymous said...

wish I had spell checked.. it's early...

Anonymous said...

Why aren't you writing for a large publication? You certainly tell it like it is, even if I personally don't agree with you, you seem to be a very smart man. Please keep up the good words and keep putting the message out there. I'm willimg to listen maybe others will to.

Alan Perlman said...

I was active in the anti war movement in the 60's. So were a lot of today's demo leaders. Do you remember the Repubilcan Dirty Tricks Squads? I do and don't think the present far left has forgotten either. You need to consider the possibility that it is the far left that are making the threats and calls to discredit the Tea Parties. Just like Nancy Pelosi walking through the demonstraters with an over sized gavel. Again it could have been a set up with plants in the crowd to spit and yell the n word. Don't tell me this not possible because I participated in the 60's and we played the press like a violin.

Anonymous said...

Let me correct a statment. Thinking of this blog I should have said we played the press like a Les Paul or Stratocaster.

Chris said...

I choked a puppy last week, full-blooded St Bernard. Hid it in the cedar chest with mama's blankets. She'll find it.
I had to do it in order to take my country back from that brown-skinned man from the mean streets of Nairobi.
God Bless America.

geno722 said...

Randy, I agree with the post that said you should be writing for a major publication. (Yes, bigger than the Memphis Flyer.) Somebody has to stand up against the politics of fear and racism. What's so bizarre about the polarization and hate-spewing on the health care debate is that there are actually people who think their own cushy health plans will survive forever without some attempt to reign in the insurance companies' greed. Like everything in the imperfect governmental process, health care "reform" we're going to get isn't nearly enough, but at least this President is paying attention to the obvious need.

Rocky McDaniel said...

Excellent post and worth spreading around too. I was a freshman at ASU in Jonesboro when the killings at Kent State happened. It solidified us together in our protest and increased our numbers too. History does repeat itself...

Father Farken said...

Jesus of Nazareth/Messiah-murdered-33-39?AD! There was a lot of hate speech that day that led to death! In the midst of it all... our Lord layed down his life as an offering for the Salvation of the whole wide world. Today is Good Friday! I planted a garden for the poor behind the church...our Good Friday tradition! My Baptist neighbor stuck his head over the fence & shouted, "Hey Father Assh*le! Why aren't you @ The stations of the cross?" Let me just don't want to spend Good Friday in the Nashville jail! "I washed my hands in muddy water..."The Peace of the Lord!

SIREEN said...

Dear beautiful people of the BAH! All charges were immediately dropped against the good Father Farken! All that the blessed Fergus did was flip a one fingered peace sign @ this so called neighbor of his while suggesting that this jackhole do something that only a very well trained contortionist could possibly do! It all made for a very interesting & inspiring Easter Sermon! Now I do beg your prayers because I began to hyperventilate while thinking for sure that I've got some sort of liver disease...but Fr. Farken sez that's rediculous cuz you'd never know if you had liver disease...he sez dat there's no discomfort of any kind! But that's it EXACTLY! Those are my precise symptoms! It's really scary! Oh well! Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed! xxs&oos! SIREEN

Anonymous said...

I pray every day that President Obama and his family are protected from harm. I also pray that he gains wisdom. Don’t get me wrong I think he is very smart but he lacks wisdom. If that does not happen I pray that he is a one term president. Also to characterize all “Tea baggers” as angry, racist, poor white people is unfortunate. Look who is being close minded now.
Milton Friedman

Anonymous said...

I think you need to expand your perspective a little and get out of your little box you've made. Just go and stand and talk to those attending a tea party.

Anonymous said...

Like wow man, here's a picture of all that bigotry: