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.)
September 29, 2009 - 12:23 am
One can only imagine that this is what Washington and the rest of the country might look like if the original Jeffersonian trend had not been brutalized by the modern influx of leftist ideologies. In a way, the tea party movement is an effort to revive America’s classic libertarian tradition. That ideal appears to be pretty much out of place in today’s political culture. Even as I’m writing this, the “mainstream” media is dismissing the starry-eyed tea partiers as close-minded racist bigots. In print, on radio waves, and on TV screens, champions of the “liberal” racket are writing off the tea party protests as a shameful inability of white America to accept a black president — as if the desire of individual liberty has anything to do with skin color and as if there exists a race of people that, in the long run, gains anything from a government tyranny.
The extent to which tea parties are being rejected by the media and cultural establishments can be used a yardstick to measure the damage done by the leftist penetration of America’s institutions.
Even the refreshing presence of tea partiers failed to sanitize the sleaze of our hotel’s perfectly shiny lounge with its pretentious, larger-than-life portrait of Barack Obama slotted between the portraits of Gandhi, Nehru, and a handful of other world leaders. The only U.S. president deemed worthy to adorn The Liaison, Obama smiled enigmatically from the dark canvas, as his piercing eye surveyed the rebellious taxpayers gathering at the Hyatt Regency across the street.
The much larger and friendlier Hyatt was bustling with activities. It seemed to be a tea party headquarters, with a welcoming “Tea Party Express” sign at the entrance, crowds in patriotic T-shirts, and buses depositing one group of protesters after another. That evening the Hyatt was hosting a busy sign-making event in a spacious conference room downstairs, which eventually transformed into a boisterous celebration inside the hotel’s airport-sized lobby. All TV screens at the bar and the seating area were tuned to Fox News, as hundreds of upbeat marchers mingled excitedly with a drink in one hand and a poster board in the other, conversing in a jovial manner with complete strangers as if they were old friends, and proudly exhibiting their freshly made signs.
The space at the adjacent liquor bar was so jammed with people that the patrons had to hold their signs high above their heads so they wouldn’t be crushed. As a result the bar crowd looked like an agitated political rally, only it wasn’t going anywhere in particular. Their undisputed leader was the bartender, who provided the logistics for their progress towards the common goal of getting smashed, which seemed to be the only clearly defined agenda. The participants proactively worked on the advancement of that objective, while at the same time raising everyone else’s awareness of the issues. The dreamlike effect could be best summed up with the sign “Government off our backs now,” which kept popping up against the rows of colorful liquor bottles. It was the most surreal drinking party I have ever seen. It was also the friendliest and most relaxed.
On Saturday morning September 12, protesters started gathering at Freedom Plaza two blocks away from the White House, eventually filling the whole of Pennsylvania Avenue all the way to the Capitol. At about the same time President Obama fled Washington to seek reassurance and support from union organizers in Pittsburgh. The president’s helicopter reportedly flew over the gigantic crowd, offering him an eyeful of America’s reaction to his statist agenda — something to mull over on the way to the AFL-CIO Convention.
I was walking all day, taking pictures with my big Sony camera and trying to get to every corner of the rally. The People’s Cube signs and shirts were visible in the crowd and I faithfully documented that. The level of wit, creativity, and theatrics was overwhelming. If a picture is worth a thousand words, consider my tea party gallery an epic novel.
As I stopped to chat with the protesters, people shared with me their joy over the spirit of love, connectedness, and camaraderie that seemed to be sweeping the rally. Maybe not in these exact words, but their tone and lit-up faces suggested that much. No doubt the event was unprecedented.
“It’s like Woodstock, only without the smell,” one man quipped, referring to the massive euphoria that allegedly overcame the three hundred thousand stoned attendees of the 1969 rock festival. That, of course, is more of a myth fabricated by counter-culture marketing entrepreneurs. It can’t be real because nothing real is gained by escaping reality, especially with the help of drugs and outlandish psychobabble. Real love and connectedness can’t be achieved through theft, destruction of private property, and indiscriminate sex with strangers in the mud — all of which was typical of Woodstock.
At this tea party, however, the legendary euphoric spirit was real. Apparently, to experience it in a sober, secular setting is an opportunity open only to those who live by their minds and adhere to true human values.