We kinda caught the alleged mega-Tea Party thingummy in the Common today. It turned out to be a mini-rally, marked by delays, tedium and as third as may counter-demonstrators as mostly old white people...and dozens of varied flags.
In fact, come the eventual, predictable pledge of allegiance, the giggle was which standard people would face. Like peaceniks of the 60s had our flowers, this group of maybe 100 around the old bandshell used cloth on sticks.
Of course, there were several variations of Revolutionary-War era flags, several versions of don't-tread-on-me-snake art, some old colony flags, some modern Tea-Party regional banners, and more. One 20ish guy waved a stars-and-bars Confederate battle flag, with that snake in the middle of the cross and DON'T TREAD ON ME along the bottom. I had to ask about that. He said the only Southern/Confederate link was that he grew up in Florida. He said he bought it at Amazon for $3.
The noon rally turned into a 1:15 opener. The amazing list of windbags really didn't get started before we had to go a few blocks away. We had tickets for Café Variations at Emerson's Cutler's 2 PM show. Among the 14 scheduled speakers, not including previously scheduled before he tucked tail Rick Santorum, the two most infamous had not stepped up before we left. That would be MassResistance's Brian Camenker and Scott Lively.
Camenker, of course, is the notoriously anti-gay hysteric given to hyperbole and outright lies. His abiding image though is from The Daily Show. Lively is equally rabid in homophobia, to the point where his involvement in Uganda has brought a suit alleging involvement in inciting persecution of homosexuals in there (yes, in Africa). Lively describes himself as a preacher of gospel and minister, using the honorific Reverend. His degree is a J.D. from Trinity Law School (no relation to the respected Trinity College either in CT or the UK). His law school is not American Bar Association accredited but does have California accreditation. It's hard to tell from his résumé how he got to be a minister.
He is noted for pseudo-history/pseudo-research aimed at discrediting homosexuals. Those are listed on his résumé.
However, by the time we saw our show and returned, doings were still underway. Texas U.S. Congressman Louie Gohmert was still holding forth. He's pretty wacky (think caribou sex enabling) and a real blowhard.
We had chatted up lefties politely holding up placards on the sidewalk ringing the bandshell. They had a permit to be there. Before we left, they were agreeing among themselves to be polite and not give the TPers reason to play the they're-hypocrites, they-rob-us-of-our-right-to-free-speech cards.
Sure, I've been to demonstrations where wingers shout down lefties. Then on sites like MassResistance the report is how brave the anti-gay and anti-marriage equality people were to confront the horrible pinkos. In fact, I have seen right wingers slap and slug left wingers, claiming they just couldn't help themselves. God forbid though if lefties exercise their First Amendment rights to out-chant right wingers exercising theirs.
Apparently that happened and a little worse while we were hearing Gershwin variations down the street. The hearsay I got was that some Occupy folk skipped down the hill from the golden dome and subsequently charged the stage. They were arrested. I didn't see any of that and it was all over by the time I got back to Gohmert's clichéd diatribe. The last 10 minutes of his was dreadful and packed with attempts that barely got a rise from what should have been his people.
Lively came on at the very end to give a benediction. Of course, given his self-righteous bent, it wasn't a blessing at all. It was the eternal-damnation version of Deuteronomy 30. His went beyond the "I have set before you live and death; therefore choose life." It was if you warn someone what they have to believe and they don't do it, they're going to hell. So there.
Some benediction, Scotto.
During his time, the counter-demonstrators kept up their yelling, calling him a murderer, in allusions to his Ugandan politicking. They did shout him down.
Oddly though, despite promises of a huge crowd electrified by speakers, maybe 100 of them showed, if you didn't count the speakers and support staff. Perhaps 40 counter-demonstrators milled about. Once those ditched their signs, they were free to join the audience. You'd think that at over 2:1, the TPers would have been able to out-enthuse the pinkos. Not so.
At the end, main event organizer Saugus' Carlos Armando Hernandez (founder of the Saugus TP and the North Short TP) said they had expected a lot more folk, but were still pleased. He promised more at the next, yet unscheduled, rally.
He made the most intriguing and unamplified comment of the afternoon, as far as I was concerned. Before showtime, I was next to him up front. Speaking to another TPer in his stentorian manner, he said that he was convinced that the other, older local Tea Party groups had sabotaged the event. In fact, I had also heard that various TP groups disliked the anti-gay/social-issues orientation of today's rally, as here. Hernandez said that when he returned to Saugus, "My gloves are coming off." I'll be intrigued to see if that means anything beyond he was pissed to have such a wee turnout.
There was that overlay of various self-identified/self-named Tea Party groups claiming the others are brothers or pretenders or fakes or such. Meh.
However, a few of the TPers came in decent drag. Rich Howell of the Pioneer Valley Tea Party spoke briefly a few times. He was in a light brown Revolutionary War re-enactor type of uniform. He was really into the moment, at the end exhorting the dozens of TPers to "take your shoes off, because the Boston Common is sacred ground."
In the main though, the crowd (really too strong a word for the small gathering; it was more like a church coffee hour) was fragmented. One table in front of the bandshell had lots of literature about the immorality and other evils of the United Nations. The main organizer there kept saying, "The biggest threat right ow to America is the UN. We gotta get out."
Perhaps 8 or 10 individuals had signs decrying all government expenditures. On the other hand, a young man and a middle-aged woman were respectively making balloon animals and painting faces (no slogans, but primary colors, Old Glory style). Hernandez told one person that those efforts were to "make this a family event."
The counter-demonstrators did chant the obvious a few times. That included that it was an all-white affair. There was a black participant, one. She was Concetta Gordon, who was the hired larynx for the national anthem. She was fine, although she had no political interest in the day.
Perhaps if Santorum had spent a few more weeks in the POTUS-nomination race, he would have showed. The gathering might have been a few hundred instead of, to quote Terry Malloy from On the Waterfront, "instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it."
We can face it, even if Hernandez and his cohorts quibble, that this was a bust.
Monday Update: A pretty good piece in the Globe elaborates on the conflicts and tensions among the TP group rallying in Worcester and the one here. It portends more posturing.
Tags: massmarrier, Boston Common, BayWindows, Camenker, MassResistance, Tea Party, Scott Lively