Today, Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express came to Boston. I attended a counterprotest, called The Real Boston Tea Party. The purpose of the event was to emphasize civility and politeness in a somewhat absurdist fashion. Approximately 150 people were in attendance, compared to the several-thousand strong crowd across Boston Common (though it should be noted that there were nearly as many counterprotesters at that event as actual teabaggers). I was concerned at first that the counterprotesters would have difficulty remaining apolitical, but after several hours, all encounters with people wishing to pick fights were gracefully defused with politeness. Several anecdotes from the day:
- The ride down to Park Street on the T was wonderfully metaphorical. All these people of different lives and opinions squished together in a small space, forced to interact with each other as equals. Two women near me began chatting about the difficulty of eating on the subway, and eventually ended up exchanging professional information, as they were both writers. When we got to Park Street, one woman ended up going over to the Tea Party protest, and one to the counterprotest.
- Another encounter I had on the T with actual Tea Party protesters: I started a conversation with them about their Ayn Rand signs and told them I was going to Boston Common as well, and we had a pleasant conversation in which I avoided letting them know that I was going for the counterprotest. For me, the event was about how we’re all humans and Americans, and we should be able to converse politely as people. I had fun talking to these folks, and hearing about the woman’s experience working for 30 years in the Department of Education, as well as running a toy store for five years in Faneuil Hall. It was fun discreetly hiding my political leanings from them.
- There was a young boy who I caught a brief glance of who was dressed up as a bat (bat boy?) holding a sign that read “Tea for Bats!”
- We had one visitor at our tea party who was a counter-counter-protester, who had a fluorescent green arrow with “liberal moonbat” and “fake tea party protester” written on it. She was sunglassed and had headphones on, connected to her wealth of fanny packs, so it was difficult to converse with her. However, many people offered her cups of tea as she wandered through the small crowd, frantically standing for a few seconds next to different groups of people. At last, one very-prepared man (he brought many edibles as well as a camping stove) got her to take a cup, and there were pictures taken of her holding it. Sometimes you can neutralize hatred by opening your heart and your pantry to your aggressors. This is why hospitality is so great.
The event had a very successful air about it. I hope something is published about it by some of the media outlets who were there. You can organize something similar! Go be civil!