20 August 2005

Reflections on Camp Sheehan

Today was a good day. Made the two hour trek to Waco for their monthly USPSA shoot, and had a great day at the range. Even walked away with a box of precision bullets for winning my class. They make great bullets (shameless plug) and you can find out more at their website at http://www.precisionbullets.com/ .

After the match, headed south to Crawford, picked up lunch at Subway, where I ran into two fellow shooters and we sat around and chatted about the match and about my plans to go visit the demonstration. Both were what I would politely call extremely irate with the demonstrators.

The first thing you see as you enter Crawford from the north is the Crawford Peace House. It’s a hovel on the side of the road, and it was packed. More on this later. As I crossed into Crawford proper, the first thing I noticed was the number of pro Bush and pro troops signage. From what I could see, the folks in Crawford are barely tolerating the demonstration, but thankful for the money that it is infusing into their little town.

To get to the Western White House, I turned off the main road, down a very twisty country road. As soon as I left the main road, I immediately noticed two Sheriff’s cruisers - the first of many that I would see.

I made my way further and further into the countryside, and noticed there were large numbers of folks leaving, and I was the only one headed in. I figured that was either really good, or really bad. From what I would later gather, there was a shift change of the anti’s. Finally, I reached the site of the demonstration and noticed 4 Sheriff’s cruisers, with the Sheriffs out directing traffic and being very visible. I stopped and asked them which way to parking and they pointed the way.

To the right side of the road were the pro-Bushies. There were maybe a dozen, holding signs and trying to stay out of the heat, which was significant. On the left side of the road were the anti’s. Tents, cars, and a somber line of crosses make up their demonstration. As I drove past both camps, it was humorous to feel the eyes of both camps as each side tried to size up which side I belonged to.

Just past the Pro-Bushies was the media tent, fairly vacant - with only what I took to be a college RTF crew in residence. There were only 2 large media trucks - one was labeled CNN, and based out of Dallas and the other was not marked. Whether it was a CNN truck or some other media outlet was not clear. Still, I found it interesting that CNN was the only major news outlet that I could identify.

That says something all by itself.

Parked the Z, grabbed some water, and hiked a short walk back to the camp. As I had not yet identified myself with one camp or the other, I wandered through the anti’s camp, observing as I went along. Three things have since struck me as key:

1. Everyone was very well behaved. No one was misbehaving. At the anti’s check in table, there were clear instructions telling everyone to behave and to respect and appreciate everyone’s point of view even if you disagreed with it. This pretty much sums up their whole view on life. I would be interested to see how they would interact with a terrorist intent on making them the next demonstration of Islamic strength. One of the first signs I noticed said “No solitary confinement of psychiatric prisoners. Guantanimo kills.” I’m still trying to figure that one out. Frankly, what I think is that they were recycling a poster from another demonstration and added on the “Gitmo kills” piece to fit in with this demonstration. That would follow the trend that the anti’s were professionals posing as spontaneous hippies.

2. The anti’s were very well organized. This was a professional job. I base this on the fact that a good portion of my job is to organize large civic events and I can recognize good organization when I see it. And this event WAS organized. Contrary to what is reported on the news, this is not a spontaneous event. There were porta potties. Water. Food. First Aid. Shuttles in the form of maybe ½ a dozen rented 15 passenger vans and a smattering of personal cars. All of which costs money. Someone’s footing the bill for all of that, and it would be interesting to know who.

After a while I noticed that there were many many more cars than people. On the way home, as I drove by the Crawford Peace House, I found out why. I would say that there were more people at the CPH than were at the demonstration itself. If I were to guess, I would have to say, grand total (anti’s and Pro-Bushies together) there were less than 100 people at the demonstration. Again, as I mentioned before, it gave me the impression that the anti’s were changing shifts - organized.

3. The event was not so much a demonstration as it is a Grateful Dead concert. Every stereotype that you can think of when you think of hippies and anti-war activists was present. It was almost comical. We joke here about long haired, maggot infested, Birkenstock wearing, stinky liberals. Well, I’m here to tell you fellas, stereotypes don’t come from nowhere. It was almost as if I had been transported back to 1972 and in fact, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see some of the same folks back then. (I would have to say that the bulk of the protestors were in their mid to late 40s and older with a smattering of college age folks.) Tie dies, long unkempt pony tails and sandals were the uniform of the day.

Having bathed in the last week, I felt decidedly out of place.

The environmentalists were also in full swing - everywhere you looked, hanging from practically every tent pole were signs directing me where to recycle my plastic, paper, and glass. The vegans were out, selling their soy products - and one older couple was even grilling a couple of soy burgers for the afternoon meal. Yum yum. You had the mandatory acoustic guitar player strumming along and singing anti-war songs all of which seemed to revolve around the opinion that we’re paying too much for our oil blah blah blah.

Hell, I thought when I first got there that I had stepped into a Partridge Family rerun as the first libby vehicle I saw was an old school bus, painted dark blue and light blue with anti war flags flying from a couple of the windows and camping gear stuffed inside. One of the flags criticized Raytheon, showing a picture of an Arab holding a little girl’s shattered body - and stating that Raytheon only builds things that kill people. Nice. You’ve just gotta love the tact. The other banner, which was a popular one for the anti’s, was one that had a fist wrapped around a carrot, with the words “food not war”. Good plan. See if Zarqawi would be willing to spend his time slicing potatoes instead of hacking off heads. Again, the flags weren’t homemade - professional custom job.

Another wonderful sign on display was a handmade job stating something along the lines of “Peace is not a goal. The Path to Peace is Peace.” Uh huh, sure. Let’s all just go hold hands and hope that the terrorists leave us alone. I wonder if they really think that if we just left Arabia and its environs that the terror mongers would be content to leave us alone.

Perhaps the quote of the day came to me from a mother/son combo. The kid was probably 9-10 years old, and his hand written sign said “Where’s the WMD’s, George?” He looked down and after reading his sign, asked his mom “What’s a WMD, mom?” I’m sure we’ll see his picture somewhere.

After cycling through the anti’s camp, I crossed the street and started talking to the pro-Bushie contingent. Almost immediately, one of the Sheriffs politely asked me to which side did I belong. After explaining to her that I was a pro Bushie, she told me that I couldn’t go back across the street and cycle back through the anti’s camp. Nice. So much for freedom of speech.

I understand why they were keeping the two camps separate, but it would have been nice to been able to go back and forth as you wished.

Among the pro Bushie’s were several veterans, and most interesting to me, a survivor of 9/11 - Earl C. Johnson. He was on the 51st floor of the WTC when the planes hit, and he’s working on a book telling his story on 9/11, titled Stairwell to Heaven. Earl was totally flabbergasted with the anti’s not understanding that the war on terror is directly connected to 9/11.

The vets I spoke to were, if anything, frustrated with the lack of news coverage they were getting. They implored me to help get the word out on-line that contrary to what the anti’s were putting out, the pro-Bushies had been given some land on a nearby ranch for camping and hanging out and told me to let our readers know that there was a place to stay and they would be welcome. They also informed me that a large contingent of pro-Bushies, in the form of a motorcycle ride with the American Legion out of Dallas had been turned away and was not allowed to enter the demonstration area. Your guess as to why would be as good as mine.

While I was visiting with the pro Bushies, an anti wearing (what else) a blue tie dye with a peace symbol in the middle walked to the edge of his side of the road and applauded us for exercising our 1st amendment rights, and that even though he didn’t agree with us, he was proud that we had taken the time and the effort to get out and counter protest their protest. One of the young troops next to me said “well, gee, you’re welcome. I risked my life overseas so you could come out and protest me. THANK YOU for your support.”


It was at that point that I voiced my opinion that while the anti’s had every right to speak their mind, that what they’re doing was coming very close to aiding and abetting the enemy. Anyone who thinks that the terror mongers aren’t gaining strength from the images of the protestors is kidding themselves. Does anyone remember Vietnam? Does anyone remember that the Vietnamese leaders themselves talk about the anti war movement giving them encouragement? Speaking of Vietnam, another of the posters said “Iraq = Arabic for Vietnam.”

As I walked back to my car, I couldn’t help but notice the sheer professionalism of the protestors. I wonder how many of them do this for a living? As I mentioned earlier, this was not a spontaneous event. This was well organized and well managed. Frankly, those of us on the right could learn quite a bit from them when it comes to organizing demonstrations. I also couldn’t help but wonder if the explanation for the smaller number of pro-Bushie’s is that we actually have jobs and a life with responsibilities while the anti’s flit from one Grateful Dead concert to another?
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