Don’t Think of an Elephant

Kai -- December 15th, 2007

Don’t think of an elephant. No, really. Don’t think of an elephant.

What’d you think of? An elephant, right?

The ARA rally was a colorful scene, with a number of posters and signs, a couple drums – and at least a dozen cops in the immediate vicinity (inspired by “vague threats” I’m sure).

While the rally was impossible to miss due mainly to the location and the size and wording on the signage, I had an initial reaction based on the point above to the choice of message: “ANTI-RACIST” “ANTI-NAZI” “ANTI-HATE”. Drivers by not knowing what this was all about had images of racism, nazism, and hate brought to their mind, rather than equality, respect, and love.

I spoke later with a participate who said they’d considered that point in their planning, but decided to use the “anti” message to make it very clear that there are racists, neo-Nazis, and haters here. Having only what they are promoting on the signs might hide this fact. There was one little kid in front of the larger signs with one too-big-for-him poster that said something like “Free hugs” with a heart on it. Looking at that seemed to conjure up the ideas of what the rally was for. But, it certainly didn’t communicate, “There are racists here.”

I see both sides, and there are different strokes for different folks, but I’ve begun leaning more towards the idea that we need to “be for” something rather than only against. It’s often times more effective to argue for an alternative when protesting the status quo or another action.

I bring it up here to highlight the recent focus on strategies of protesting and supporting things, as there have been a number of discussions about actions where we’re talking about the nature of the action or process as much as the topic itself. Residents and JMU discussing Memorial Stadium plans, the Pay Day Loan protests, the scarved/rallying crusaders exposing hate groups, and the Early Church working for alternative places for people to get on their feet are all just recent examples, and as community members continue to work towards change, I hope the process people choose to use will continue to be a topic for discussion here.

19 Responses to “Don’t Think of an Elephant”

  1. J. Tyler Ballance says:

    Anyone can stand on a corner and shout, “Injustice!” However, it takes a true patriot to sit down with those with whom you may differ and seek to work on common ground issues.

    My experience has shown me that racists of every color, whether they be black, brown or white, have at their core, a concern for their children’s future. While a few Sharptons and Jacksons try to game the system to extort money for their own personal gain, most people just want a fair shot at the American dream; not quotas, not welfare, not race or gender based promotions, just a fair shot at success.

    We are beginning to see Americans of every political stripe begin to awaken to the fact that the various factions among the working class have been pitted against one another for the benefit of those in power, and this includes both the Democratic and Republican leaders.

    Ron Paul’s candidacy for President has attracted millions of people from every race and ethnic background; people who are committed to fairness and FREEDOM for all Americans. In the Ron Paul campaign you will find blacks, whites and browns, some of whom may have possibly held racist views, working in concert together, because they all know that if we are a FREE People, then opportunity will exist for ALL.

    It is time we ended the welfare plantation and created real economic opportunity for all citizens, without regard to their gene pool. The site to read more about Ron Paul is

  2. Mike says:

    Dammit, now I’m thinking of racist elephants.

    Seriously though, great post Kai. How many folks showed up?

  3. finnegan says:

    I counted between 20 and 30. But not all of them were anti-fascists and anarchists. There was at least one elephant. Outspoken pro-life/anti-gay marriage Republican Luis Padilla showed up and joined them.

    It was a strange thing to witness.

  4. Lowell Fulk says:

    When you say “joined them”… how do you mean?

  5. finnegan says:

    He was up there on the courthouse lawn, hanging out with all the anti-racists. To any observer, it would appear he was joining the demonstration.

  6. Lowell Fulk says:

    Strange indeed. I wonder… I know Mr. Padilla participates here once in a while. Perhaps he would like to engage in this conversation about a very real issue? I would very much welcome your input Luis.

  7. cook says:

    Brent, perhaps you need to clarify. It sounds like you are saying it is “strange” for someone who is “pro-life” to be

  8. cook says:

    Hey! What happened to the last two-thirds of my post? It was oh so profound, but now it is gone. And the inspiration is gone too. So I’ll just finish with . . .


  9. Draegn88 says:

    I would like to know if the ara is neutral, in that it will oppose all racism regardless of it’s source. Or if they pick and choose who they oppose based on the political idealogy of thier “leader”.

  10. finnegan says:

    Weird. I don’t know why your comment cut off.

    My comment was in reference to point four of the anti-racists’ “manifesto”

    4) We support abortion rights and reproductive freedom. ARA intends to do the hard work necessary to build a broad, strong movement against racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, discrimination against the disabled, the oldest, the youngest and the most oppressed people. We want a classless society. WE INTEND TO WIN!

    I doubt there is very much Padilla and the anti-fascists have in common, other than they both oppose racism. I’d wager that they have nothing in common when it comes to US foreign policy, abortion, President Bush, US domestic policy, climate change, gay marriage, or religion (to name a few).

  11. kestrel9000 says:

    #1 J. Tyler Ballance
    So you engage in apologia for racists, then you pimp Ron Paul.

  12. finnegan says:

    Yeah, no presidential pimping, please.

  13. Gxeremio says:

    As a former Libertarian I am somewhat disturbed that Ron Paul seems to have so much of a following among white supremacists – ads by his supporters were all over the VNN site. In case you didn’t know, Paul was the Libertarian Party nominee in 1988.). What does it mean that so many jerks like him?

  14. Annie Hololob says:

    I have been watching this entire thing unfold here on this site. I was one of the managers present at the B&N the morning of the ‘rally’, I talked with the police, I have had my own conversations with our masked avengers and I was in the courtroom when the judge threw out the case against two of the masked men.

    From start to finish this entire episode is still confusing and fishy.
    I have been present at nearly every stage and I can’t figure it out.

    The morning of the B&N rally the two men who were the target of the ARA were pimping Ron Paul- they were there with a stack of Middle America News, RP all over the cover. Enter Mr. Ballance.


  15. m says:

    But, Annie – were you scared when you saw men in masks entering the store?

  16. Frank J Witt says:

    Gentle readers, I would like to inform you all of something that transpired here at our restaurant yesterday (approx time about 12:30). While the lunch rush was later than usual yesterday we did have a number of new customers. Now, I have no idea if it was a new or returning customer but I doubt it would have been a returning customer that would use our brown roll towels in the men’s room to make a sign stating “BAD WAR” and then using the aerosol can and the hand soap, prop the message on the corner shelf in the men’s room for everyone else to see (if you hadto go, anyway).

    If anyone here thinks that Barb or I am in favor of war, you are mistaken. We are merely supporting those that choose to fight for this country and its’ government. Whatever reason these children have for going the military, like I did when I graduated high school, I feel compelled to make sure I can help these kids know that we are thinking about them.

    7G (Seven Generation), Lowell and Diane Fulk and many unnamed others had come in and helped bag gifts/goodies for troops overseas. I had hoped to get more locals involved but I guess with everything else going on, we all have to take care of ourselves first.

    Anyway, Thank you for those that had and continue to help…and if you know someone that has a problem with our support, have them come talk to me BEFORE they try and make a statement behind our backs (especially with Wendy still in Iraq until mid-April ’08).

    Have a Merry Christmas. We will do the same

  17. Greg says:

    Keep up the good work Frank and Barb! As a former military member who served overseas I know how special those care packages are, and how warmly each member of the platoon will receive them knowing that strangers thousands of miles away cared enough to send them.

    And although most people on the planet probably agree with your anonymous dissenter, I believe that you can support the troops even if you don’t support the war.

    Again, thanks for your efforts, and those of 7G….

    Merry Christmas to you too………

  18. Lowell Fulk says:

    Barb and Frank have been, and still are going through some very challenging days. And yet they continue to work to help others….
    Please keep them in your prayers, if you are inclined to pray, either way, please keep them in your thoughts and with your concern for they are good people and and are blessings to our community.

  19. Frank J Witt says:

    Lowell and Greg, thank you for the kind words. We buried Carmen yesterday and will be in PA until Christmas Day to tr and keep Barb’s mom in good spirits. Carmen was Kathy’s (Barb’s mom) boss and dear friend for quite some time so this is a tough time for their family.

    Thanks for the prayers and we’ll get those packages together when we get back home.

    Have a Merry Christmas everyone.

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