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This Glorious Quest

The Citadel - location of Steve Bannon speech

The Citadel – location of Steve Bannon speech on 11/10/17

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest. ~~~ To Dream The Impossible Dream (1965)

We’re now in the gorgeous southern Arizona desert and I haven’t posted since Thanksgiving, so I thought I’d try to give a brief update and in the next post summarize the southern portion of the trip.

The silence and vast expanse of the desert can prompt the mind to recall and reflect on some strange places, thus the title of this post, which is not irony or snark.

Out of nowhere, in the silence of one cold night, I somehow became focused on fond childhood memories – highlights of my grade school experience, most especially two peak moments:

1) sitting next to and holding Cathy Rosenthal’s hand on a 4th grade class trip to the Broadway musical Finian’s Rainbow (1967) (I apparently mistakenly recalled it as “Finnegan’s Rainbow”, but Wikipedia tells me otherwise!).

Cathy was my first “girlfriend” and I haven’t done better since! She was awesome – smart, pretty, athletic, sweet, and very competitive. I used to skip out of school (on Wednesday afternoons, the early release day for religious ed) to walk her to the bus stop when she went to a ballet class. I gave her a silver ID bracelet (and never got it back after we “broke up” a few years later at a summer party at Lisa Cohen’s house.) Last I can recall, she seemed to disappear in 9th grade. Wonder what became of her?

2) another class trip (5th grade) to the Broadway production of “Man of La Mancha” (1968) – thus the opening quote, which had a huge impact on my life.

I was born three months before Sputnik – which shaped my education and love of science and math – and my Mom was a huge fan of JFK and the idealism and public service spirit of the “Camelot” mythology.

[Note: for a deeply disturbing, well researched, documented, and written – and all too plausible – take on the JFK legacy, read “JFK and The Unspeakable – Why He Died and Why It Matters” by Jim Douglass. I just read that, which may explain the youthful recollections.]

I can recall my first grade teacher, Ms. Vera Vradenberg, crying as school was dismissed abruptly the day JFK was murdered. Amazingly, I now note that that same song from Man of La Mancha was one of Robert Kennedy’s favorites too – and that he was murdered in 1968, the year I saw the play.

Well enough of my nostalgia.

Our current journey has taken us to some amazing places this year (2017) – where we witnessed many incredible things, including the damage from climate change induced extreme weather, e.g. record setting hurricanes (Florida, Texas Gulf coast), wildfires (Washington, Oregon, California), droughts, floods, heatwaves (in many places, including San Francisco, no less!) and tornadoes (golf ball sized hail in Little Rock, Arkansas).

We also toured lovely cities – like Charleston South Carolina – where architectural beauty and history stood side by side with the ugliest forms of ignorance and hatred imaginable (e.g. Steve Bannon’s speech at The Citadel, where, in the wake of Dylann Roof, he was warmly welcomed by virtually the entire South Carolina political establishment and lots of the young men and women training at The Citadel for US military leadership positions who “whooped and hollered” their support. See if you can read this lede from the local page 1 coverage without vomiting:

Steve Bannon tells Republicans in South Carolina: ‘It’s time for us to get angry again’

When former White House adviser Steve Bannon walked onstage Friday night to address a sold-out crowd at the Citadel Republican Society’s annual Patriot Dinner, he was welcomed like a rock-star.

Cadets whooped and hollered in their woolen dress uniforms. A man wearing a coat and tie pulled out a red towel, waving it high in the air. Even the three Republicans in the room who are hoping to be the next governor of South Carolina tripped over themselves to align their campaigns with Bannon and his populist message that propelled Donald Trump into the White House.

I stood with a disappointingly small group of protesters:

Protest against Steve Bannon's speech at The Citadel (Charleston, SC) (11/10/17)

Protest against Steve Bannon’s speech at The Citadel (Charleston, SC) (11/10/17)

Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC

Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC

We’ll post more pics and commentary from the southern portion soon – can’t do so now because I forgot to bring the wire that downloads photos from the camera to the computer.

Peace out!

[Update: The Citadel Bannon protesters were manipulated and poorly led by a local black minister – the epitome of what Glen Ford calls “the black misleadership class”.

The minister voluntarily agreed to a protest permit that located the event in a parking lot a few hundred yards away from the building where Bannon spoke and the press tent was located, thereby further marginalizing his own protesters in a classic “protest zone”.

When protesters arrived early – the police had closed all the roads in an approximately 1 square mile perimeter, making it very difficult to even get there – they all converged on what was obviously  the most strategic and effective location – at the barricades directly across the street from the building where Bannon was speaking and the press tent stood.

They began chants and had creative and highly visible signs.  They were in a place to directly confront and shame Bannon and the attendees as they arrived at the event. The press began to take note.

Almost immediately, a PR official from The Citadel and the local black minister arrived.Look at the photo, as the minister tells the Citadel’s PR flack that he’s moving his people away:


The minister directed his protesters to move away from that prime location and relocate 300 yards away at his small stage.

I loudly urged protesters to stay where they were and the minister immediately got in my face – chest to chest – and told me to shut up and get my own protest if I didn’t like his. I got into a shouting match with him and yelled that he was being manipulated and was weak.

Afterwards, a few protesters came over to talk and agreed with me, attributing the problem to a conservative southern political culture that avoids overt conflicts with power and aggressive “rude” tactics. ~~~ end update]

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