Sunday, April 18, 2010

Beware the "O"

I attended the Murfreesboro Tea Party this past Friday. The banner spanning the speakers’ stage said this was a festival of FREEDOM, with the O replaced by a red five-pointed star. When I asked about the star I was told it was to remove the letter “O” which many attendees consider the new sign of the Beast. I get this. I felt the same way about the letter “W” during the Bush years.

What heartened me most about the event was the small turn out. A few hundred white people, most of whom were clearly socialists sucking at the teat of Social Security and Medicare. These people weren’t angry; they were tired, exhausted, beat, humorless, and mostly overweight. I thought I saw a placard that read, "Give me Liberty or Give me Breadth," but I think I may have misread it. “Sad” not “mad” best describes them.

The main speaker, a man we were told who speaks at Tea Parties across this great and God blessed nation of ours, filled our ears with so many platitudes I worried there wouldn’t be any left over for the other speakers. Who’s against freedom, individual responsibility, excessive taxation, and uncritical thought? OK, I admit to having some problem with the latter, but I clapped anyway. Clapping, like yawning, is contagious.

The most interesting speaker was a fellow from Act! for America, an anti-Muslim group, who warned us that America was being taken over by Islamofascists, and the only people who were aware of this were the disempowered ignorant masses. Did he mean us? The more education you had, the more political power you had, the more in the pocket of Islamofascists you were. Thank God the Tennessee educational system is so poor! We will save America yet.

I spoke with the people at the Act! booth, and learned that all Muslims are Islamofascists because Islam promotes Sharia law, and Sharia law is incompatible with American democratic values.

They have a point. If American democratic values are all about the freedom of the individual to be and do whatever s/he wants within the limits set by Ayn Rand, then Sharia law is a problem. But then so is Jewish law (Halacha), Catholic law, and the rules that Southern Baptists, Church of Christ and other Protestant denominations place on people. Freedom is freedom, and most religions are agin’ it. So, I suggested the problem wasn’t just Islam, but all religion. We ought to act to end religion now. No one agreed with me so I moved on to the next table.

This one promoted the John Birch Society. Until I moved to Murfreesboro and saw the John Birch Society’s float in the town’s Christmas parade I had thought the Birchers were out of business. Turns out I was wrong.

According to their brochure, the Birchers are against democracy because it inevitably leads to “overbearing government, crushing debt, and erosion of individual and minority rights.” Why minorities have rights different from those of individuals, I don’t know, and didn’t think to ask. The goal of the Birchers is to return to America to it was in its infancy where citizens enjoyed “limited government, kept the fruits of their labor and were responsible, moral people” who, I mentioned to the person at the JBS table, owned other human beings, committed genocide against native populations, and discriminated against women and people of different religious persuasions. They took back the copy of their magazine I was holding and suggested I move on.

There were lots of other tables to visit, and what they all had in common was a fear of all things left, liberal, nonwhite, and “O”.

All in all the Boro Tea Party was pretty dull. We applauded mom and apple pie, booed Pelosi and Obama, and swatted the pollen swirling around our heads. Should we worry about these people? Sure, if we are even more listless than they are, they will rule the nation within an election or two, but does it matter?

I doubt it. You can change the faces in Washington all you want, the real power lays elsewhere. Whoever is in office, the corporate powers that be continue to exploit the people, melt the planet, and send us off to fight the never-ending war designed to keep us afraid and keep themselves in power. The more things change the more they stay the same.

No comments: