My mother found this sheet, tucked into a white envelope on her front door a couple of days ago. She lives in one of Columbus’ more affluent suburbs (Bexley) and has an Obama sign in her front yard.
There’s nothing particularly new about the ugliness the flier contains, although it is kind of stunning to see so many paranoid lies that have been long since debunked collected on one white sheet of paper. Whoever left it clearly had no intention of speaking to her, only to send a bullying message which suggests, in the opinion of some anonymous coward, that her open support for the Democratic candidate impugns her patriotism.
There is no doubt that things can get really ugly in Ohio during presidential campaigns – especially in counties like this one, which is generally a slightly blue shade of purple. Small incidents like this just tell me that after eight years of divisive leadership from a president for whom no amount of legal bullying, menacing and damning of people with another point of view ever made him say “enough,” and even with a Republican candidate who finally just started to, we still have a long, long way to go.
I haven’t done a lot of jumping up and down and screaming at concerts in my adult life. Dancing? Yes. Yelling and applauding appreciatively? Absolutely. Taking notes to review the show for the paper? Check. But jumping up and down like a 14-year-old, waving my arms, mentally projecting look at me, in the striped shirt, I’m from Jersey! That’s something I reserve for a Bruce Springsteen show.
Thankfully, the free show he did to campaign for Obama and registration/early voting in Ohio yesterday was acoustic, and most of us spent our time in the mellow, perfect sunlight yelling for the candidate (who was elsewhere) as much as for the Boss. Before he closed his set, he spoke a few words about his vision of America, of Obama’s and what he hears from nations outside of ours today.
I am a sap for the Constitution. I am a sap for Woody Guthrie and American literature and the Asbury Park boardwalk and muy macho guys like Springsteen who are tough with a gentle spirit and a soft underbelly, so the words he said made me cry. They reminded me of my patriotism — of what I believe patriotism is in America. So I thought I’d share it. It sure beats the nasty turn in the rhetoric this week.
None of the videos that I found of Ohio’s show had the complete speech, so I’m lifting this from his appearance in Philly, where he gave virtually the same remarks. He starts speaking just before the one-minute mark:
Yesterday, we hung out in the parking lot of an urban carryout, looking at the side wall of a restaurant called “Chicken Gem’s.” During the years we lived in this Ohio State campus-area zip code, I don’t know exactly how many times I drove through and saw this exact lot in the Weinland Park neighborhood filled with police cars, investigating some neighborhood crime.
It was the official unveiling of this mural, featuring the brushstrokes of more than 40 adults and kids from the neighborhood (at the corner of 11th & 4th):
A friend got in touch with us Saturday afternoon, in need of a free PA for the event, and wondering if we knew how to procure one. Dan still has enough equipment left over from the club, that, with the help of another friend, he was able to cobble one together.
“Clean up the neighborhood, clean it good! Clean your room, too,” a group of kids told the crowd, in between Sunday school songs and a song they made up about Obama. There was a table of chicken wings, mac & cheese and peas & peanuts for anyone who came by to see what the fuss was about.
The organizers of the mural spoke, along with Max Kennedy (the ninth of RFK’s 11 children), who was there to pump up the crowd. Another local man offered a prayer for the neighborhood, for people involved in “bad things” that he said had happened just the night before.
Here’s the group portrait. There’s more about the event posted on Barack Obama’s Ohio campaign blog, tied to his “Plan for Urban Prosperity.”
“If you lose hope, you lose the vitality that keeps life moving. You lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today, I still have a dream.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. (The quote on the mural.)