This past Friday, in the course of my professional duties, I happened upon a scene at the corner of Main and South Auburn streets in Grass Valley that sent a rush of disgust and frustration from my toes to my nose.
A young man and woman were setting up an information booth, surrounded by extremely large photos of our president depicted with Hitler’s mustache. Forced by the red signal light to stare at this spectacle, I wondered which wing-nut group was going to attempt to convert the masses to their ideology that day.
I believe in the right to free speech. I also believe it’s appropriate to stand up for causes one believes, even if I don’t happen to agree with the message. However, what I find missing from most political dialogue these days is the crucial element of respect for the office of the president, no matter what political party he or she represents.
In my opinion, George W. Bush was the worst president ever elected in the history of our country, but I would never think to make caricatures of him sporting swastikas and Hitler’s mustache or remake his facial features into those of an ape. What kind of message does that send to our young people? And what must people in other countries think of a country that allows it’s citizens to openly denigrate its leader so horrendously? Most folks are appalled when anyone mistreats our flag, but apparently it’s acceptable to compare our president to comical animals and despicable dictators.
Even though it was Friday, and hot, I just had to see what these people were doing. I stopped, took a deep breath and reminded myself that these folks had a right to espouse their views and that I should listen with an open mind, and perhaps I could learn something.
A young man approached me and launched into a dissertation of how evil our president is and that he will be leading us into a thermonuclear war if he is re-elected. I reminded him that our president had just ended one war and was about to end another, but he was adamant that he was correct. As he was talking and showing me other propaganda, I noticed the young woman had succeeded in talking a middle-aged man into signing their petition or pledging money. I wondered at how gullible people were to take such information at face value, how, in their hatred of our president, they will sign anything and give their hard-earned money away to anyone who sets up a table on a street corner and displays a defaced photo of him. I also wondered why this young woman wasn’t more concerned about fighting to retain the rights to control her own body, which seemed a lot more immediate than the possibility of thermonuclear war.
I’m no political expert, but I am interested in who and what rules our country, and when I saw the name of the person whose PAC was responsible for the booth and the information being dispensed from it, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.
I had heard of Lyndon LaRouche in regard to the election in Illinois where Adlai Stevenson resigned his candidacy for governor of that state rather than be associated with two of LaRouche’s “loyalists” who had managed to obtain nominations for lieutenant governor and secretary of state. I went home and googled Lyndon LaRouche and, in a 1986 article by Chip Berlet and Joel Bellman from Political Research Associates, found out everything anyone would ever need to know about Mr. LaRouche.
Described as highly intelligent and well read, LaRouche has a long history of criminal, fanatic behavior and “often utilizes racist, anti-Jewish, sexist or homophobic stereotypes in attacking political enemies.” A press release identified him as appealing to “Northern neo-populist conservatives who are profoundly uncomfortable with modern America and susceptible to conspiratorial explanations of their distress.” He blames women for “castrating” their husbands and refers to regular Americans as beasts or sheep.
He has been associated throughout his political career with the KKK, the Communist Party and many anti-Semitic and right-wing racist organizations. To control his followers, he uses intense peer pressure, fear, and attacks on sexuality, like any cult leader. A real swell guy!
Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
I hope everyone will keep this in mind when deciding whom to support for any elected office.
Caryn Marshall Wilder lives in Nevada City.
… what I find missing from most political dialogue these days is the crucial element of respect for the office of the president, no matter what political party he or she represents.