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America Awakes: Reflections on 9/12

The Taxpayers' March on Washington as seen through the eyes of an ex-Soviet immigrant. (Part II will appear on Wednesday.)

by
Oleg Atbashian

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September 29, 2009 - 12:23 am
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On September 12, 2009, I took part in the largest anti-big-government demonstration in the history of mankind. To borrow an expression from Joe Biden, the Taxpayers’ March on Washington was clean and articulate. It was clean because over a million earners of American wealth didn’t litter or destroy things and generally behaved as responsible property owners — as opposed to leftist protesters who often act as unwelcome gatecrashers. Once again the political class was reminded who really owns the place,  only this time the owners were adamant about it, articulating over and over in a million voices directed at the Capitol, “We own the dome!”

For three days Washington was filled with friendly, cheerful working people, easily identifiable by their American flags and their shirts, pins, and signs with clever, heartfelt messages on them. If one were to judge this nation by the people walking the streets of its capital that weekend, one might surmise that America was inhabited by highly rational, creative, positive, responsible, and engaging individuals. Unfortunately, on most other days Washington exemplifies the opposite, misrepresenting this nation in every sense of the word.

My friends and I arrived from New York by car on Thursday the 10th, just in time to catch a sight at which to marvel: hundreds of doctors and nurses waving hand-made posters and chanting slogans in opposition to the government takeover of health care. Protesting in a park facing the Capitol building, medical professionals offered a resounding second opinion about the health of national medical care, with speaker after speaker exposing Obama’s proposal as malpractice.

Doctors had a better prescription: tax reform, tort reform, and allowing patients to purchase health insurance across state lines — a combination of measures that would save $120 billion every year without government rationing. Their rally received no coverage whatsoever in the “mainstream” media.

In the not-so-distant past, whenever George W. Bush introduced a new policy or visited a foreign country, the media disproportionately focused on even the tiniest of accompanying protests. Often journalists barely mentioned the summit’s topic or the agreements resulting from it. They apparently believed their job was to inform the world that Bush was screamed at by a heckler in Australia, or that a deranged London grandmother climbed the gate of the Buckingham Palace to protest U.S. policies. Media types rationalized it by claiming that reporters have always preferred to cover protests over what was actually being protested.

Obama’s ascendancy changed that. As if re-enacting Orwell’s novel 1984, the media might just as well claim that it has always ignored anti-administration protests. As a result, the qualified opinions of hundreds of protesting doctors from across the country are, all of a sudden, less worthy of coverage than a single anti-Bush heckler of the previous eight years.

Fortunately, my friend El Marco was there to cover the doctors’ rally for his photo-journalist blog LookingAtTheLeft.com. We spent the evening in our hotel watching him prepare his photo essay, occasionally throwing in a line or two. By next morning, his story with fantastic pictures had been picked up by a number of major political blogs.

On Friday we joined a patriotic rally outside Walter Reed Army Hospital. Several hundred people — generations of veterans and ordinary citizens like us — waved American flags and signs on four crowded street corners at the main hospital entrance.  We cheered buses with wounded soldiers returning from complimentary dinners at a local restaurant.

The rally was organized by FreeRepublic.com as a counter-protest to the weekly anti-military, anti-U.S. vigil staged at the hospital entrance by the radical group Code Pink. For years, the leftists have congregated on that spot with their nonsensical signs in an attempt to demoralize the heroic young men and women, and to add insult to injury, try to convince the wounded troops that they volunteered for an evil war and their service was not for a just cause. Our much more numerous pro-troops rally was encouraged by constant honking from passing motorists.

We quartered in a boutique hotel a few blocks north of the Capitol. It’s named The Liaison, which must be a politically correct term for the lobbying harlotry that dominates Washington culture with its evasive lingo. This weekend, however, the language spoken in the lobby, the corridors, and the elevators was the straight talk of independent people exchanging rational views and informed opinions. Teaching Washington a lesson in honesty that can only be found among free and self-reliant individuals, they expressed themselves readily, clearly, and effectively — without hushed voices and glances behind the shoulder out of fear that their words might be taken out of context, blown out of proportion, and misconstrued as hate speech.

In an elevator we met a family wearing red “Tea Party Patriots” buttons. The twelve-year-old daughter was holding a couple of surprisingly hefty tomes. Her parents proudly mentioned that on their way to Washington they had finished reading the Federalist Papers together.

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