Wednesday, September 08, 2004

A Fascist Visits My Hometown: What I Learned

Steve Kraske reports for the Kansas City Star on B*sh's visit to Lee's Summit Tuesday morning. As you may or may not know, I hail from this suburb of KC, so when I discovered that Dim-Son would be speaking at one of the local high schools, I decided to let the Commander-in-Thief know he wasn't welcome around here.

I'm too tired to go into much detail right now, and I haven't found any good pics of the protesters this morning, but I will include part of an email I received from an elderly acquaintance of mine on Monday evening. I've got to hand it to Gene DeVaux for his straight-shooting:

"A couple of weeks ago, John Kerry and John Edwards passed through Lee's Summit, Missouri on the 'Freedom Train.' Security was scarce. Republican protestors were right behind those waiting to welcome the Train... How different it will be tomorrow when our acting President, George W. Bush speaks at Lee's Summit High School... The Republican Party issued tickets to supporters who want to see Bush at our public high school. Imagine, taxpayers being denied the right of access to, or even a view of, a school that their taxes support. Their taxes are higher now because of the Bush tax policy that has nearly bankrupted this country and our education system... Attached, you will find photos of the Yellow Belly's Barricade." (the trucks are from Yellow Shipping Co.)

But what about MY experiences this morning? Well, I'll hit the highlights before hitting the hay, but feel free to ask me for additional details if you like. First off, I estimated that the main throng of protesters numbered around 200 or so, though Bev Chapman of KMBC 9 News said around 300 showed up and I heard one fellow estimate close to 400, so the truth is probably somewhere in between. For what it's worth, there were over 100 cops lined up across the street opposite from us (and we were at least a thousand yards away from the stadium, too). I just hope the Republican party picked up the bill for all of the police overtime rather than Lee's Summit's taxpayers; this event was listed as a partisan rally (even though it was held in a public school), so the bill should belong to B*sh and Co.

Anyway, I recognized a bunch of the people protesting from either the John Knox Retirement Village, one of the activist groups I belong to, or from past protests/rallies I've attended, but there were a lot of new faces too. It was your typical mix, from college-aged kids (or should I say draft-eligible kids) to typical moms and dads, from union members to grandparents. Those disappointed and utterly disgusted with this administration certainly don't fit any one stereotype, although they all recognize the necessity and urgency of ousting the Chimp this November.

I spent the night beforehand making my signs: poster-board, Sharpies, a broom handle, and some tape can really do a lot. On one side, I drew the standard "W" being crossed out by a slash running through a red circle. On the other, I wrote the words: "SACRIFICE OUR SUVs, NOT OUR KIDS." I thought it was fairly self-explanatory (but if you don't get it, please email me and I'll try to explain its meaning to you - in a completely non-patronizing manner, I promise). The Republican crowds I walked past had a hard time making fun of it, so even they must have realized there's gotta be some truth to it.

All right, I'm getting quite tuckered out now, and I imagine you are too (this is a rather long post for me), but before you skim through the rest of my blog (if you even bother to do that), I need to share with you my favorite moment of the morning...

As I stood alongside MO-291, fellow protesters to my left and right, I happened to notice a family which had attended the B*sh speech walking behind us back toward their car. They must have left the event early, because I could still hear someone speaking on the main stage in the distance.

To tell you the truth, I probably wouldn't have even turned around and glanced at this ordinary-looking American family if it hadn't been for the sound of a voice which rang crystal-clear in the morning sky. But amidst a flock of protesters chanting anti-B*sh slogans to the passing cars, a single exclamation stood out above all the others.

"It's not me!" came the cry. "I don't support George Bush!"

Although any of the 300-or-so of us could have uttered that statement, I turned my head to the source of this triumphant vocalization and looked into the eyes of a little girl with red hair, no more than 8 or 9 years old. Her older sister carried a "W'04" sign; her parents wore conservative dress and stern countenances on their faces. Even so, this surprising cry of independence flew from the lips of a youngster whose bright blue T-shirt and pleading face sticks out in my mind to this very moment.

Having let out what must have been a liberating proclamation to the world, her brave act was in turn rewarded by the crowd of men and women around me (myself included), as we all roared a resounding approval back. She met our eyes, head held high, a smile perched on her angelic, freckled face.

B*sh may win in November; I pray that he does not. We may continue to remain a country of selfish ignorance and apathetic indifference to others; I pray that we do not.

But no matter the outcome of this election (though I believe it may be the most pivotal of our lifetimes), as long as the twin beacons of logic and compassion are able to shine through the fogs of a society in cultural decay--so long as the spirit of liberalism can exist in the mind of a little girl growing up in a household which supports B*sh--the dream of a better tomorrow, hope itself, will still survive. I pray that we may never forget this.


At 10:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

as always, very well written.

At 12:15 AM, Blogger Luke said...

Thank you. Next time there's a protest, Mr. Keith, feel free to tag along. ;-)


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