Per my post yesterday, I went to last night’s meeting of the Saint Paul School Board. There, I met Swiftee from “Pair O’ Dice”.
The mission? Speak out against the movement by a well-heeled pressure group to ban or hinder military recruiters from Saint Paul School property.
The actual “public response” portion of the agenda was shorter than I’d expected. Aside from Swiftee and I (and a woman who was there to testify about an issue that was both unrelated and deeply familiar), the only speakers were a couple of not-overly-articulate kids from “Youth Against War and Racism”, supported by a couple of rows of Volvo (or Subaru)-driving, alpaca-wearing, Whole Foods-shopping, patchouli-reeking, puerile-placard-bearing
pro-dictatorship “anti-war” activist types.
It’s always a pleasure to watch Tom Swift engage the School Board. What he lacks in Ciceronian polish, he makes up for in passion. It was – as always – a joy to watch Ann Carroll, Swiftee’s nemesis on the board, shrink down behind the desk when Tom teed up.
The fun, as Tom relates, was after the public hearing was over. The rows of “activists” noisily got up and stampeded for the door like a bunch of Grateful Dead fans who’d heard there was a bag of Fritos in the rest room; Tom and I quietly left via the side door.
And then it got weird:
After receiving a few handshakes from parents and military vets, we were accosted by a young guy with a “Free Palestine” button on his coat who wanted to have a little dialogue with us…sure, I’ll play!
While we listened to his “Haliburton owns the military” spiel…
Talking with “Eric” was, indeed, of a piece with a pattern I’ve observed in many attempts to engage these people in a rational debate. When confronted by facts, they inevitably squiggle away into bizarre conspiracy theories and fanciful self-aggrandizing victimization operas.
Of course, that’s among the ones that make some pretense of rationality, which to be fair, Eric tried. Others, as I noted in my coverage of the
pro-terrorist “Anti-war” demonstration last month, have let the surly bonds of civility slip, as Tom relates.
… a live, breathing specimen of one of Mitch’s patented “smug, alpaca wearing, Volvo driving, tofu and beansprout eating, prematurely grey” female moonbats cruised by to spin the propeller on her tinfoil hat for us by (loudly) proclaiming that George Bush had “arranged” the 9/11 attacks.
As her pencil-necked life partner shuffled her quickly out of smackdown range, with her screaming incoherently all the while (I think it had something to do with chimpyMcbushitler but I can’t be sure), “Free Palestine” informed us that she was frustrated and felt powerless.
Swiftee is too charitable. The woman – a late 40-early-50-something who ooozed “college educated government/non-profit worker”, although that’s just a first impression – had veins bulging from her face; she was howling in an ululating tone that suggested she genuinely felt horrified to confront dissent. “Why don’t you go to Iraq yourself”, she snivelled as her partner shuffled her, all a-vapor, toward their Volvo.
“So only the military gets to speak?” I yelled after her – but I let her go. Confronting actual reason would have probably given her a stroke.
I turned back to “Eric”.
“So”, he said, affecting a moist, unctuous, lecturing tone, “how do you rationalize the fact that our military isn’t democratic, but it’s supposedly spreading democracy around the world?”
I stood, stunned. Swiftee, to his credit, took a whack at it. Finally, words came to me.
“Of course the military isn’t ‘democratic’ – but it’s controlled by civilians, who are elected. The military isn’t controlled by a fascist dictatorship”.
“Eric” affected that “gotcha” look that the rhetorically dim take on, looking a bit like a toddler that’d made a really good pants. “How do you know it’s not a fascist dictatorship”.
“Oh, for chrissake…”, I started, taking a deep breath, ready to lay into him.
Swiftee was, well, swifter. “I gotta go”, he said, taking his leave. It was, in retrospect, the right call.
I can’t wait to do it again!