Oh boy, imagine my elation when I walked from underground off the Market-Frankford El train, entered Independence Hall and accidentally found myself in the midst of the “Proud to Be An American” July 4th Tea Party Rally. I was actually on my way to another rally (more of that in another post), when I stumbled upon what had to be the whitest bunch of folks I have ever seen. It was so white that the only other black person present, who too looked as if she had made a wrong turn around the Liberty Bell, asked me if this was a Klan Rally. I don’t know, Sis, the juror is still out, I said.
What I found out very quickly was that there is never a shortage of Thomas Jefferson quotes at a Tea Party Rally, which is unfortunate if you’re trying to convince the world that you are not a pseudo-racist group posing as a party of free-thinking individuals (Sorry but you can’t believe that all men are created equal while owning enslaved people). The tall older white man, who was dressed in the traditional red, white and blue, had the bad luck of stepping in my path and attempting to hand me a pamphlet with The Best of Thomas Jefferson quotes. What he received back was a rude Angry Black Woman awakening when I spiritedly slapped the leaflet from his hand. Happy Birthday to the ground, Thomas Jefferson, Happy Birthday to the ground.
Also present were the anti-abortion groups, the state chapter of a national conservation party group and the 9-11 Truthers (actually I have no beef with the Truthers other than why are you at a Tea Party rally?). There was also frequent buzzing around me from other ralliers, who gazed at me suspiciously as much as I did at them, about their belief that Obama was to blame for…well, just about everything. Obama was the reason the U.S was in two wars, knee-deep in the economic recession and lost in the World Cup to Ghana (Because he never produced that birth certificate, you know). While no one would ever accuse me of being a blind follower of our commander-in-chief, you do have to wonder where all these were folks were during the Bush-Cheney years.
After the reading of the names of those locally (and white) serving in Iraq, followed by an uncomfortable speech from the sister of an soldier in Iraq, who bizarrely ended her homage to her brother with a picture of the family dog, and several cult-like salutes to the American flag, I was done. Unfortunately, I couldn’t muster the patience to hear their thoughts on Immigration, National Security and Defense (which was conveniently outlined in five-page program book. I also found out that Joey Vento of Geno’s Steaks was one of several businesses co-sponsoring the event). Way too much white, middle class angst for my taste. But despite published media reports about the antic at previous Tea Party gatherings, there were no violent outburst, overtly-racist gestures or issuances of death threats against Obama (at least not during the 20-25 minutes I had been present).
Although the guy with the oversized hiking backpack and Don’t Tread on Me flags, did make me a bit uncomfortable. There are no trails here dude, what’s with the backpack?