Under the Gadsden Flag: Conservatives Rock the Capitol
His sign said “Save America First -- Evangelize the World,” and he stood in the parking lot near Constitution Avenue with a bullhorn. Thousands who arrived at Saturday’s 9/12 March on Washington. heard Pastor George Luca proclaim his pro-life message. A black evangelist from Virginia, Pastor Lucas condemned those who support “murdering innocent pre-born babies” and accused “so-called black leaders” of betraying their own people.
Diversity of opinion was on display everywhere among the vast crowd, generally estimated in excess of 1 million, that gathered on the West Lawn of the Capitol and sprawled for blocks in every direction. The chief sponsor was FreedomWorks, a libertarian-leaning organization which was accused by liberals like Alan Colmes of being sold-out shills for corporate America.
Even though FreedomWorks' chairman, former Texas Rep. Dick Armey, a Republican, has often criticized the religious right’s influence within the GOP, it was remarkable how many of those who turned out for Saturday’s march were evangelical Christians in sympathy with Pastor Lucas. It was a right-wing Woodstock. No one who wanted to attend was turned away for ideological deviation from the sponsors’ goals, and those who responded represented the broadest imaginable spectrum of opposition to the status quo in Washington.
Not far from where Pastor Lucas preached his message through a bullhorn, Kell Grenga stood with his daughter, Sarah. They had traveled from Charlotte, N.C., the father dressed in the uniform of a Revolutionary War patriot militiaman and the daughter in a colonial homespun dress. Grenga held a staff from which flew a yellow flag bearing the image of a coiled rattlesnake and the defiant motto “Don’t Tread On Me!”
Hundreds of those banners fluttered among the crowd. This traditional emblem of American liberty was nearly as ubiquitous as the red, white, and blue of Old Glory. Standing beside the stage Saturday afternoon in his trademark black leather jacket, Nick Gillespie of the libertarian journal Reason agreed that, whether or not this event had established a Washington record for attendance at a political rally, it certainly deserved Guinness Book recognition as history’s largest mass display of the Gadsden flag.
While the crowd estimate was furiously debated online, the people who turned out for the March on D.C. -- not figments of anyone’s imagination, but flesh-and-blood Americans whom I saw, spoke to, and even sometimes shook hands with -- were unanimously agreed that they’d never seen anything so huge. However much critics want to denounce the sponsorship as “corporate” (by which liberals mean “phony,” if not indeed “evil”), the crowd was real. And it was spectacular.
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