What I Saw At The Stop the Steal Rally in DC


Since it was predictable that the legacy media would report only on ugly clashes and try to portray everyone as a racist, I spent Saturday afternoon taking pictures and talking to people at #StoptheSteal in DC. Here are some photos and my firsthand impressions of the mood. 

I am aware of only two ugly incidents during the rally and March, both of which preceded my arrival at about 12:30 pm.  You've probably seen the videos:  white folks in BLM shirts harass a black woman taking her kids to the rally. And antifa types mixing it up, being separated out by the cops, and meanwhile, one of the marchers uses his bullhorn to hit.  

Make of that what you will, but I didn't see anything even remotely like that for the four hours I was there, both at the rally at Freedom Plaza and then marching up to the Supreme Court, where a series of folks made remarks. I made it a point to leave before it started getting dark, because that's when Antifa types come out (you know, after the crowds thin and they can pick on the few). 

This was among the most diverse crowds I've seen, rivaling the March for Life for being "here comes everybody." Except there were a lot more working class white men than you might see at the March for Life. Black, white, latino, gay, young, old, families..... The surprise for me was the number of Chinese / Taiwanese immigrants who are deeply fearful the nation's media and other elites are all in the pocket of the Chinese Communist Party. 

I didn't see any signs or hear any slogans that had anything to do with white supremacy. I did stand for a while next to a guy whose appearance gave me the creeps. His look seemed aggressive: lots of tattoos, including on his neck, and piercings involving not earrings but needles and such. And his American flag was mounted on a baseball bat (only thing of that kind I saw). But his comments on the speeches were appropriate and his chit-chat with people standing nearby --including people of color-- was courteous and even sweet, which is not like anything I've heard before from skinheads, so if he was a racist, he was hiding it. 

This young man is the first person I ran into at the rally. He was in the same Metro train with me. I was impressed that he was willing to ride on the train with his big Trump flag when he was traveling alone, and I asked him whether he was afraid at all.  "Not at all." 

I asked him what brought him there and he said he was worried about the loss of the power of "we the people" in light of the non-transparency of many of the vote counts. 

He likes Trump, although is to the right of Trump on several issues -- wants more free market solutions for healthcare, including medicaid. 

I asked him if he'd grown up in a household that thought like that and he cracked up laughing. "Noooooo." So I asked if he got flak from the African American community for supporting Trump. He said his folks and most of his extended family hate that he supports Trump, but that he has been his own man since grammar school, when he took up skateboarding and loved punk rock music. He was bullied terribly for liking punk rock and for being a skateboarder, and that is what put him on the road to doing his own reading and looking into things.  It was sort of funny. He seems to think that in his circle, it was worse to be a skateboarder than to be a Republican. 

These two guys were chinning like old pals, so I asked them how long they'd been friends and they'd just met at the rally. One is from Cincinnati and the other from Detroit. Each came because he thinks his ability to earn a living depends on a Trump presidency, and because they think the fix is in. 

As I say, a sizable contingent of all kinds of Chinese immigrants and Taiwanese who believe everything we hear from legacy media and politicians now comes at the behest of the CCP. They had lots of literature out about this.  (In fact, a Chinese friend of mine is the person who told me about this rally.) 

While my bro and I were at Freedom Plaza listening to the gearing-up before the march, people were mingling and having a good time. A gal originally from Guatemala was going around introducing herself and thanking people for being there. She said she fears the US is falling prey to the kind of tricks she has seen under dictatorships and feels alone when she watches the news.  "We feel so isolated, but when we get together we encourage each other." Here are some other photos, just to give you the mood. 

This man was blessing people in the name of Jesus as they passed by

This man was laughing at CNN. "They say we're just 10,000 people, y'all." (The crowd was at least equivalent to the 2nd- largest March for Life I've ever been at -- on the order of 500-750,000 it seemed to me from within it. Though I am a bit skeptical of the most popular aerial shot of the crowd going around. The crowd never seemed that dense to me and I wonder whether those are photoshopped Obama inauguration photos. Just asking.).  My brother said the solution was that CNN should turn off its cameras and leave the area, and then we would count for them. 

Brandon Tatum in the flesh, doing photos w/ fans 

A drag queen calling herself "Lady Maga" was a popular photo op for the crowd

Make of it what you will, but if you think it was all a bunch of haters, racists, and ignorant boobs, you are being lied to. 

Annals of Self-Awareness, #24



Lockdowns Are So Over


Perhaps you have seen these pictures of Virginia Gov. Northam at the beach yesterday on Ian T. Lovejoy's Facebook & Twitter (this is my screen shot of a collage of them).

Saucy people might say that given his history we all thank Gov. Northam for not wearing a mask, but what of "social distancing"?

Two conclusions reasonable people might make from these examples. 

1) See how relaxed and happy the governor and the people he's posing with  look?  As Governor he is getting all the medical reports and he is not afraid of getting Covid-19. So why should I be? 

2) Equality before the law means, as the Oklahoma lyric has it, "I don't say I'm no better than anybody else, but I'll be damned if I ain't just as good."  If the governor can do it, so can I. 

A quick search brings up other examples of our nation's leaders violating their own lockdown rules.

Illinois Gov. Pritzker's family has been traveling to Florida and Wisconsin.  He now says his wife and daughter were in Florida when the lockdowns began and are just sheltering in place, but he was awfully coy about this at first if it is true. And he defends the travel to Wisconsin as essential too -- working their farm. Maybe so, but then anyone else's work to save their business seems to be essential as well.

And the nation's mayors certainly are not locking down.
It's not merely the arrogance and hypocrisy on display here that are so galling -- though they certainly are.  It's that these people are destroying respect for the law by teaching that laws are arbitrary, just picky regulations with no basis in reality, so we need have no moral respect for them -- after all, the folks most in the know don't follow them. 

Remember Lincoln? "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is not democracy.If you, as legislator or executive, think you are exempt, then everyone is exempt. That is the meaning of rule of law.

Because you ain't better than anybody else. And they are all just as good. 

In any case, whatever the "Science" may say, between the restiveness of the people after more than 2 months in lockdown, and the financial ruin folks can no longer abide, Gov. Northam's photos are surely the sign that lockdowns are over. What can the state say to anyone at this point? 

P.S. Just because these particular examples are hilarious,  here are some hilarious international examples.  

Here's an Australian mayor who went out drinking under lockdown. 

The mayor in a small town in Peru violated lockdown and then faked his own death to avoid the fine! 

And perhaps the most egregious example: Neil Ferguson, who is the main reason we have any lockdowns in the first place,  felt adultery was an essential task

Dangling Foot Sunday!


image credit:  The Ascension, unknown English illustrator, shamelessly pinched from here

I think it's a pastoral mistake to transfer the Ascension  to Sunday, but Covid has taught me to just roll with it. Instead of Ascension Thursday maybe we can re-christen it DangleFoot Sunday, since so much of the sacred art for the day features Christ's feet as all that's left visible  

Bishop Barron's homily for the Ascension is worthwhile. 

This past Wednesday, together with a few other parishioners, Mr. W. & I participated in my first ever Rogation Day procession. (There seems to be an informal move, even among non- "Trads," to re-introduce rogation days.  There are three leading up to Ascension Thursday, and according to our neighborhood organizer, there was once a tradition in England of "beating the bounds" -- walking the boundaries of the parish in procession, both to remember those boundaries in the absence of maps, and to ask for protection against plague, famine, and natural disaster.  We were a homely little band what w/ social distancing and all, but I am pretty much always game for a procession. 

On another note: earlier in the week -- the 18th-- it would have been Pope St. John Paul the Great's 100th birthday.  Pope Francis noted it in a special Mass and a very nice, simple homily.  And Papa Benedict wrote a letter for the occasion -- I wish I could see the original as the translations seems a bit awkward, but it's still encouraging and instructive.  

Tomatoes in Ground, 2020

The wifi went out Monday, which was fine by me because there were no snow days this semester and I've been weeks and weeks without a true day off.  The weather was gorgeous, and I bought plants, went for a walk with a friend, and then spent the rest of the day in the garden.

I almost planted everything on Palm Sunday, but it's been a cool Spring and I didn't feel confident we were past frost, so I held off until the first glorious, gorgeous May day.

But now they're saying it may snow on Friday? Yikes!  No snow in Jan-Feb, but snow in May? Skeptic though I am, that is some freaky climate change.

Or maybe not. On a lark I went and consulted the external memory drive and discovered this has actually been the pattern for a few years now. Snow would be novel, but cold and rainy all the way through May & June has been the new normal. Why is it that what happened when I was young trumps my memory of what has happened the last 5 years in a row?

To wit:


I might lose my four varieties of tomato, peppers, beans and various herbs. But the good news is, the spinach which I planted against reason since it's a cool-weather crop, may come up before Fall after all.

<googles tomato blankets>

A Madonna for the Month of May

Image credit: Madonna, Wlastimil Hofman, 1910, curtsy: @frajds

Good Shepherd Sunday

Image credit: Lucas Cranach, Christ as the Good Shepherd, c.1540

An excellent homily from Bishop Barron for today (starts at roughly 7:20). 

An excellent priest, Fr. Clinton Sensat, uses the occasion to thank the men who have been good shepherds to him. 

Take that, Grey!

Just because it's kind of grey, chill, and gloomy in the Nation's Capitol on this 3rd Sunday of Easter in the time of Corona. 

Went to holy hour -- our pastor has been very generous in making Adoration available-- and on the way out the door noticed the yellow iris were suddenly in bloom. I'd forgotten they existed. I didn't notice them coming up, and I have loads of purple iris that were spent already weeks ago, so these were unexpected. Take that, grey!  Coming at you with yellow.  

Buttercups coming up in the unkempt lawn (if it stopped raining, we could mow it) are bonus. 

Road to Emmaus

Image credit: "La mulata," Diego Velázquez  
(often called "Kitchen Maid at Emmaus," and you should click to enlarge)

PSA: Yesterday Pope Francis wrote us all a letter. It's short, simple, and lovely. You should read it! 

Meanwhile, 3rd Sunday of Easter, and the Gospel of the day is the road to Emmaus. Hear (or read if you must, but preferable in this instance to hear, so scroll down to his video) Msgr. Charles Pope explain how the entire passage represents a Mass -- not just the obvious Eucharistic moment at the end. Winsomely handled! 

You might read also Fr. Paul Scalia's reflection, "Easter Reluctance."

Ordinarily I'm not much of a fan of free verse, but I do like this ekphrasis on the painting above from Denise Levertov

The Servant Girl at Emmaus (A Painting by Velazquez)
by Denise Levertov 
She listens, listens, holding
her breath. Surely that voice
is his—the one
who had looked at her, once, across the crowd,
as no one ever had looked?
Had seen her? Had spoken as if to her?
Surely those hands were his,
taking the platter of bread from hers just now?
Hands he'd laid on the dying and made them well?
Surely that face—?
The man they'd crucified for sedition and blasphemy.
The man whose body disappeared from its tomb.
The man it was rumored now some women had seen this morning, alive?
Those who had brought this stranger home to their table
don't recognize yet with whom they sit.
But she in the kitchen, absently touching
the winejug she's to take in,
a young Black servant intently listening,
swings round and sees
the light around him
and is sure.

Update: Emmaus makes me think of this hymn, which we used to sing in community when I lived in Rome. I always loved it: so tender.  For you Spanish speakers, here are the lyrics