As many as 400 people gather in Coolidge Park along the Tennessee River to hear brief talks from and eyewitness to Charlottesville, Va.’s, clashing protests and others determined to resist what they see as a rising tide of fascism.
By David Tulis / Noogaradio 1240 AM 92.7 FM
Not a single fisticuff appears to have occurred among people gathered in either of two groups — one of the leftists around the stage, another afar off, evidently of a patriotic or traditional opinion.
The counterprotest bears few, if any, placards and is so far away from the main event that it appears like a non sequitur. Not a single “make America great again” red ballcap from the fans of Donald Trump makes an appearance. Even further away from this second group stands a small group of apparent Ku Klux Klan backers, according to a photographer. A dozen people from the Quaker friends group get others to join them in a hand-to-hand line separating the two protests.
David Roddy, named as the next chief of police, ambles about the park with fellow officers, who stand about in groups along the edges, unobtrusive and watchful. Mr. Roddy refuses to make any comment. Neither does Rob Simmons, the agency spokesman, who is at his elbow.
The chief is here to supervise as many as 50 officers who stand quietly in the back as speakers thunder against public rejection of their social theory, definition of marriage, there disordering of sexuality and their self-contradictory demands for the total state and total individual sovereignty.
Mr. Roddy refuses to make any statement; neither does his spokesman, Rob Simmons. The crowd is under 400. An estimated 50 officers are on the edges of the event, one that some officers feared might turn into an explosive clash. One officer says he prayed for God’s mercy on the city all the way to the event.
Chattanooga is in many ways a city of grace, with a strong Christian homeschool movement, its abortion clinic having been wrecked more than 20 years ago, a reputable Christian charity sector supporting, for example, a free school for inner city black boys, and little police violence compared to other cities. The pacific nature of the rally is in keeping with the extensive claims of God upon the city and its people and its measurable toleration.
The speakers operate in the tendentious progressive theory that seeks to overturn Christian and traditional mores, espousing yet more special rights for gays, sexual fluidity, definitions of marriage, and destruction of political enemies.
Its implacable rhetoric disturbs Rev. Charles Neal, minister emeritus from First Centenary United Methodist Church. “My greatest concern is, I didn’t hear anything being said about the fact that Jesus would want us to love those who hate. While we disagree with the behavior of people such as Nazis and Ku Klux Klanners, Jesus would insist that we love them as people. In fact, Jesus once said, I didn’t come for the well, I came for the broken. And Nazis and Ku Klux Klanners are pretty broken people.”
Socialist standard-issue talk
Most of the progressive speeches are brief and exhortative rather than analytical. Red-shirted “James” from a socialist political party gives a pep talk about the evil of tolerating those who either fail to join the reform program or who from racial bias criticize efforts to bring about an egalitarian society. It is the duty of him and his “white friends” to “take this fight” into one’s personal life.
“It’s going to have to be our responsibility our burden and our duty to take this fight head-on. We’re not well we are not going to sit here and have our black friends do all the work, have our LGBTQ friends do all the work. We have to be there as allies. We have to be there as allies. We have to put ourselves out in front. *** Wherever you see white supremacy, racism, oppression, transphobia, homophobia — anything that oppresses people anywhere in this world — you need to call it out immediately.”
He urges his listeners to condemn people publicly for personal opinions, even provoke a fight at work. “If it’s your boyfriend you need to dump him” — and here, a celebratory uproar — “or if it’s your girlfriend. If it’s a racist uncle that comes around, tell him don’t come to Thanksgiving no more. If it’s somebody in your office, you go tell HR they got a racist on the job. Call it out anywhere and everywhere you see it. Do not be afraid. Because folks actually have been oppressed and beaten and killed and murdered for doing what we all should have been doing all along.”
Denouncement a great personal sacrifice
Lillie Stubsten is the young woman who openly denounced a back-kitchen worker as a Nazi at a Chattanooga restaurant. She offers herself as an example of how libertarians and Trump supporters can be uprooted and cast into a sort of cultural outer darkness.
A national movement is “heating up” against anti-fascism,” Miss Stubsten proposes, requiring personal sacrifice. “Remember to take care of your people. Remember that if you are a white great guy and you cause some f–king trouble in the streets, you’re not going to be the one that’s going to take the burden — right? It’s going to be women. It’s going to be black people. It’s going to be trans people. Take care of them.”
“It’s time to listen to black people, black women, trans people, disabled people, black men; it’s time to listen — please, for the love of God,” she says, “listen.”
She offers herself as an example, having “outed” a Mojo Burrito coworker, Terrance Hightower, as a “Nazi.”
“I took a risk to fight fascism,” Miss Stubsten declares, “and I would do it again.” A few people are lobbyists, a few activists. “It’s getting to a point that this shit shouldn’t be a hobby anymore. This is a lifestyle, all right? This is a lifestyle of resistance. We have to fight the rising tide of fascism. So, follow my lead. Take some risks. Out some f–king Nazis, OK?”
She and her “wife,” a young blonde with a carry pouch at her loins, offer a declaration of defiance against the American political machine.
“We declare our resistance against the worldwide rise of fascism, Following the events of Charlottesville, where a terrorist attacked a group of protesters, killed one of our own, the threat of fascism is more immediate than ever ever.
“This is a threat to people of color. To queer people. To Muslims. To Jewish people. To disabled people. To the working class.
“Our enemies are strong. But, united, we will be stronger. White supremacy is your dr. White supremacy is a smelling principal” She says these “fascists do not work independently of other oppressive structures. When fascists march in the street against us, they march with the support of the police department. *** But that does not scare us. The people of America are stronger than the ruling class.”
Trump blamed for Virginia riot
Noted leftwing activist Ash Leigh Henderson says the “white supremaciest in the white house” among leading parties to blame for violence in Charlottesville. White supremacy is not merely the Klan; 50 “white supremacist organizations” were in Charlotesville.
It’s closer than you think; it’s not just “poor rural white people. *** White supremacy is your doctor. White supremacy is your smiling principal. It is your judge or judges in this city. It’s the police officers patrolling these communities. It’s institutions in our community that put people in cages, and [refuse] the resources our people need to survive.”
She demands to know what happened to prostitutes in the city. “They’re probably living in cages.” The people in Harriet Tubman government slum? “They kicked them out. Where are they?”
Queer activist Joel Willis from Sweetwater, Tenn., speaks about the need to reduce differences within the queer progressive movement. People are wrongly told “we can fight for queer liberation, or we can fight for racial justice. That’s not fair. They are one and the same.”
The most colorful speaker is “Maddie,” from Mercy Junction church. He apparently is a transsexual in a quasi-pastor’s costume with a loose, fruity air. He wins applause by sketching out an unusual life marked by fierce devotion to political causes. He is a “transgendered two-spirited. I am a differently abled. I have been on disability for the past 27 years. I’m also a native American person of color.” The crowd cheers every fact. He knows people “that would deny my right to exist, that I am a waste of space, that I am a useless individual.”
The best presentation
Perhaps the most realistic and useful presentation comes at the beginning of the lineup as part of the housekeeping. Local progressive liberal activist Beth Foster reminds her listeners about invoking, asserting and defending their rights.
A trained legal observer with national lawyer’s guild, she says specially dressed colleagues are on hand to record any abusive encounters with police. She tells of three types of interactions with police, all of which protesters should avoid.
Cops use casual conversations fishing for probable cause by which to make an arrest, she warns. “These are completely voluntary on your part, and you can walk away any time you want to.” Don’t consent to a search, and you are best to say nothing to police. She says detention and arrest are legally distinct, with the victim thinking during detention he can talk himself out of an arrest, when usually the opposite is true — a victim easily talks himself into an arrest, she says. However, detention and arrest are legally identical, with detention being the police form of marketing to mislead the arrestee into making admissions without realizing he is under protection of the Miranda ruling.
On the point of policing, the left often has a better analysis than pro-police conservatives and Trump backers, who claim to love liberty but who are boosters of cops and cop agencies and willing to accept the routine abuse the policing activity implies as against rights protected by the constitution.