Curse my inveterate curiosity, but I just had to join the Tacoma 9/12 Project Meetup group and attend their second meeting the other night. It was interesting, to say the least.
I arrived promptly at 5:00, but the meeting seemed to be already underway. Soon we moved into a smaller, private room, though, which was nice because I was afraid the background noise would interfere with my sound recording. We had to start with the Pledge of Allegiance, which meant the group leader had to dash out to his truck to retrieve a small American flag.
Then we moved on to introductions, new people first. When it came my turn, I just said I had found them on Meetup.com and was intrigued, so decided to come see what they were all about! They seemed happy about that…
One new member was from the Federal Way area, and was there because her own area’s Meetup group was “kinda dead.” Why does Tacoma seem like the magnet for right-wing nutcases? Is it some kind of poison gas the port’s spewing out or something? Even our “progressive” politicians aren’t worth the ink I’d waste in putting an X by their name. A friend seriously suggested I run for city council, because if Tacoma’s ever going to turn its reputation around, we citizens have to start getting involved in a bigger way.
They discussed the merits/demerits of mailing letters directly to legislators. One lady thought that if something arrived in a sealed envelope, the legislator was obliged to open it him- or her-self. I actually cut in to say that not only wasn’t that true, but that mailed hard-copy letters might take longer to reach a legislator than email or faxes, due to security measures. Hey, I live to serve, even misguided folks like these!
The leader then shifted to a discussion of our nation’s “extreme vulnerability” to EMP threat. I listened as long as I could before interjecting that I had studied this topic over 20 years ago, and it was hardly a new threat. The fact is, we’re always going to be vulnerable to EMP, as long as nuclear weapons technology exists. You can’t put knowledge and technology back into the bag, even if all nuclear weapons were abolished. But the leader didn’t want to hear it. We weren’t vulnerable, he contended, until Iran and North Korea began working on their own nuclear capabilities. I didn’t argue, but that just makes us more threatened, not more vulnerable. There’s a distinction.
Ironically, he had just criticized the media for, “even before this administration,” feeding the American public “crisis-mentality news.” Does he realize that that means they were reporting on Bush? That’s who was devoted to scaring us into forfeiting our Constitutional rights and invading a country that was no menace to us. And did he not see the incongruence of this remark, coming as introduction to his EMP threat warning? Obama is “very naïve,” he complained, for using diplomacy to defuse the potential for nuclear holocaust, thinking we’re all going to “sit down and sing Kumbaya together.” Does he not realize that Iran’s nuclear program started in the 60’s and 70’s, with US assistance and blessing? And that concerns about its misuse began under Bush’s watch? All our bluster and bombast hasn’t deterred them one bit. Our invasion of Iraq only showed them that the only “shocking” thing about our fearsome “shock and awe” campaign was how easily we were driven back by a rag-tag band of insurgents. Rummy let us get beat by refusing to acknowledge the resistance we’d meet, and deploy adequate forces in the first place. That’s what has emboldened Iran — NOT the olive branch Obama’s now offering them.
Next rant: disclosure of interrogation techniques in the form of Bush memos. I couldn’t help remarking that I figured any detainee that ever got released probably talked long and loud about his detention, and whatever was in those memos, while news to Americans, was probably old news to Arabs and fundamentalist Muslims. But I backed off when the leader rather pointedly retorted that the bad guys were most likely still in detention. Well, that may or may not be — we’d have to actually interrogate and investigate them to know, and in many cases, investigations weren’t even conducted. But I bit my lip: who’s being naïve now? Hundreds of them have been released, guilty or innocent. Does anyone imagine that each and every one has not told stories over and over again about what they saw, and heard, and experienced while incarcerated? And this is the modern world now — word travels fast. No, the only people who didn’t know, and didn’t want to know, what was going on behind those walls were the American people.
Next up: public schools. I know, what’s this got to do with EMP or interrogation techniques? Only one thing — common right-wing agenda. Leader, a teacher, bemoaned the encroachment of “the PC” in public schools, “under the false premise of separation of church and state.” He read an excerpt from this book they’re all reading, in which it says that the Founding Fathers intended to promote “all religions” equally. I couldn’t resist asking how they were supposed to do that. Was told that that was part of our later discussion. Otay…. Incidentally, I wonder if I might have blown my cover by noting that I had never heard of the book before then, only to discover in an Amazon review that apparently Glenn Beck has been hawking it on his show!
But the leader’s intent was to show that, rather than separating church and state, the Founding Fathers really intended to offer all religions an equal opportunity to flourish and utilize public facilities if they so desired. How this led into a discussion of the encroachment of Islam on modern society escaped me — it seemed to happen in a flash, and nobody apparently even noticed that if you’re going to say “all religions,” you’ve got to include Islam too! The words “fear” and “scare” kept popping up in every other sentence, until the leader shook his head and sadly informed us that it was “probably going to be like the French Revolution,” leading one older lady to go off on “living in Montana,” and something about guns. My head was spinning, trying to keep up with it all. One minute we’re talking about school curricula, and the next we’re wringing our hands in fear of a Muslim takeover?
In another blinding pivot, literally within the space of one sentence, the discussion then shifted from a serious examination of Montana gun laws to gay marriage! It’s a good thing I got it all on audio, because if I had been taking notes, I would have suspected some pretty huge gaps in my recording. One astute member informed us triumphantly that just last week, the AMA admitted not having found evidence of a “gay gene.” Thus, being gay is a choice! The younger man sitting next to him noted that gays already have the same rights as everyone else — “they could still marry an opposite-sex person!” Now, why would any person want to marry any other person, gay or straight, to whom there was no sexual attraction? Sure, some do it for money, citizenship, or similar practical reasons, but the vast majority of people want to marry someone they desire to be intimate with. Does this guy really believe that, just because a gay man has the right to marry a lesbian, they have the same rights as straight people? In order to have the same rights, wouldn’t you have to be allowed to marry any consenting adult human being you wanted to?
The leader then assured us that he would “like to see us all have happiness.” What? Was he really going to come out in support of gay marriage? “But don’t destroy the institution of marriage.” Oops, I guess not…. Because gay marriage would inevitably lead to polygamy — it’s about to happen in Canada right now. God help us all!
How this led to a questioning of President Obama’s birth certificate wasn’t entirely clear. But the leader made sure we knew that the copy we’ve all seen online isn’t a birth certificate
— it’s a “certificate of live birth,” and there is a difference, he stated! I couldn’t resist remarking that my own original birth certificate says “Certificate of Live Birth” at the top. Perhaps I’m not a US citizen after all?
At this point, my recorder stopped. But it’s worth noting that all of these topics were raised and discussed within the space of under 45 minutes! EMP, interrogation techniques, public schools, Islamic rule, Montana survivalism, gay marriage, Obama’s citizenship, and more! Amazing, these people…. But oh so predictable.
I wonder if they’ve pegged me as an infiltrator. Indeed, near the end of the 2-hour meeting, one lady piped up and actually asked, “Should we worry about being infiltrated?” The general consensus seemed to come down to “no,” because there really wasn’t any way to prevent it. And besides, as soon as anybody heard the logic and reason behind their carefully thought-out positions, they could not help but be converted anyway. Righhhht….
Will I go back? I haven’t decided. They don’t really seem to have an organized campaign afoot to target legislators and trumpet their agenda. It’s mostly on an individual level right now, although they are planning to stage a protest at the health care rally coming up in Seattle soon, at which Patty Murray will be speaking. And, those who can will be attending the weekly Pierce County Council meetings at 3:00 every Tuesday. This might be something we need to think about doing as well, because this county, and Tacoma in particular, seem to be home to an oddly disproportionate percentage of these folks, and the last thing we need is for them to shout the loudest.