Military Mom: Why I'm Sour About Sarah Palin
Today I decided that I needed to see the great communicator Sarah Palin in person at the giant Home Depot Stadium in Carson, and voice my opposition to the many public statements she has made recently about supporting the troops. The implication here is that she is, in effect, ready to abandon our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. In other words, supporting the troops means you leave them there. No need to have a reason. You see, my Marine son, Beto, has already done two tours in Iraq and is about to be deployed for his third. This is why I found it particularly offensive when she said at the debate that we just can't fly the "white flag of surrender".
And so I felt compelled to brave a sea of red, right-wing, Palin worshipping republicans who were sure to throw me out of the arena. I was able to get a ticket from a passerby who didn't want to use her ticket. I had not planned to get into the event, but it seemed that destiny was calling, so dutifully covered up my Military Families Speak Out T-shirt and joined the flag waving crowd entering the Home Depot Stadium. After all, if my son can just buck up and go out for another tour, I can do this. So here I was among huge throng of republicans who would normally be calling me names, and were telling the Palin demonstrators to go back to Cuba and accusing even Iraq veterans of not knowing the words to the song "America the Beautiful", while they sang their way into the stadium. I was really out of my element and quite worried as I found myself lost in a swarm of pro-war and damn-the-torpedo people. No one even batted an eye at the guy next to me with the "Guns, God and Glory" T-shirt. Just the whole wrong headed thinking of this group filled me with enough indignation to get me through at least the airport-type security check.
I was beginning to wonder what had I been thinking when I decided to go all alone into this wild crowd of thousands of rabid republicans? Had the whole Republican Party membership come to my community? This was not going to be pretty. My knees were starting to wobble, but because I was alone, at least it was easy to get a seat. It would be a long time before Sarah Palin showed up. I seriously thought about forgetting the whole thing and leaving because people were so hyped up. The crowd what doing "The Wave", and I knew then it would be a long while before Palin would be on stage. So I took in some of the ambiance and picked up on a few conversations around me. A guy behind me was actually trying to impress his friends by joking that he tried to run over those Obama people on the way in, but didn't, and said if he had, he would have put the car in reverse and run over them twice. I cringed. Then I felt sad because a guy was sitting next to me with his two pre-teen girls. The girls looked at their daddy and waited for his response. The dad laughed at the car joke and so they echoed his laugh. They waited, but got the signal. I was amused by a conversation between a couple almost in front of me. A husband whispered too loudly to his wife that she should look across the stadium at this woman who was wearing pink. He was proud that he could detect that because her pink shirt had no words on it, she must be a protester. "Watch, something is going to happened", he clued her in.
I knew that in this crowd could get ugly. I was starting to agonize over my position and feeling very conspicuous in the heat with a sweatshirt all buttoned up, but then I looked up at the sky. Lo and behold, buzzing right over all those heads was a small pesky plane with the most wonderful banner that read, " Thanks but no thanks, Sarah Palin". Ah -- a sign from the gods, I thought. It has to be the Courage Campaign folks. Can't overlook that message -- COURAGE! Then out trotted my old nemesis, my representative in Congress, Dana Rohrabacher -- the one who promised that he would call for the troops to get out of Iraq when the Iraqis want us out, which we all know was several months ago. Also, the same caring guy who called military families, and a Gold Star family member traitors for wanting the troops home. My new found courage got me thorough that tired and broken accordion Rohrabacher. I considered moving my seat to another one, though, because there was a sweet old woman who was sitting on my right who was going to give up her seat to some much younger demanding woman who said she made 50 phone calls to get these seats She was waving her tickets and complaining that none of those seats were reserved! How dare the Republican Party treat her like that!
The older woman wanted to give up her seat to her. I started thinking that maybe it wasn't very nice of me to sit next to this woman who was having trouble just getting up and down and thought that if I were tossed out, the old woman would be in the way and she might get hurt if the police had to stomp over her to get to me. There really wasn't much aisle room. I started to look for another seat, but there weren't any except one next to some kids, so I stayed put. I did tell her not to give up her seat to the demanding woman, though.
Right before Palin came out, the LA Chapter leader of the National Organization for Women, Shelly Mandell of all people, pranced out to introduce Palin saying she wasn't speaking for the organization, but as a private citizen. If she was speaking as a private citizen, one would have to wonder why they felt the need to include her title with the introduction. When she said she was a life-long democrat the crowd booed her loud and clear. As if wasn't bad enough to be labeled a traitor by other women. Then she actually said, "This is what a feminist looks like", twisting a favorite line of real feminist activists, "This is what democracy looks like!". Sadly, one guy said," I can't believe she actually admitted to being a democrat!", missing the whole point of getting someone on the other side to speak out for you to make you look non-partisan.
Anyway, in sails Sarah Palin fresh as a daisy. She started talking about a slogan "written' "on her Starbucks coffee, (sorry all of the peace activists I know don't think the giant Starbucks corporation is very folksy), and for me it was the moment of truth. I could just sit there and who would know the difference? But the sound of her voice -- that same one that I knew would soon start talking about sending off our families to fight in an endless, pointless war and dare to call it patriotism, would soon be singing the same song. I couldn't stand it. I just couldn't let her use her son's name again to justify this war. She would be sure to mention that because her son got the orders to go to Iraq, just like mine did , that it's patriotic to keep sending them. That's it. That's the only reason to continue the war- because they are already there. The lesson for them is say nothing, let the senseless slaughter go on indefinitely or your don't support the troops. That was it for me. The crowd got quiet. I held my sign up and took off my outer sweatshirt. I was surprised how long it took for them to catch up with me. About two applause lengths. My neighbors started asking me to put down the sign. I did off and on, but when others put their signs up, mine went up too. Then two staffers in the red shirts and brown khakis trod past the dear old lady and put their sign over mine and a man, also a staffer, sat in my seat. I couldn't sit back down. One person grabbed my "Troops Home Now" sign, and tore part of it. Then the crowd started turning on me like a McCarthy party on a commie. The rest of the sign got ripped out of my hands and someone hit me with a red pom pom! Two quite older men started yelling at me to leave. One kept screaming right in my ear , "USA", trying to hurt my ear. Then the seat stealing staffer asked me if I had a ticket. I told him I had one. When he asked me to give it to him, I went to get it from my purse and then thought better and said , " No, I have one all right, but you took my seat and they took my sign and you will take my ticket. Besides, I am not doing anything disruptive!"
Then the two other staffers tried desperately to put their McCain signs over mine. I was familiar with this dirty trick, because that's what the Schwartzenegger staffers did to me when I showed up at another republican rally in Placentia. Maybe because it was taking away from the limelight, but at least Arnold had the courtesy to tell them to leave me alone. Not so with the Palin lions. They wanted blood.
To hush my sole weak "Troops home now" shout, a whole slew of angry Palinites began yelling in unison, "USA! USA!" This caused Palin to have to stop and make some remark about how free speech was why her son was fighting in Iraq. Clearly the mob was having none of that! A really nice young African American cozied up to me and said to trust him and that the Palin people wanted to talk to me and it was a good thing. I wasn't biting. One woman said her son was in the military and I said so was mine. More folks screamed for me to go, making more noise and fuss than I ever could. Even the sweet old lady turned on me. "Get her out of her. I don't want her here", she said in her new-found authoritative voice. Finally, Mutt , (or was if Jeff?) showed up asking me to leave or they would get the sheriffs. Once again I reminded them that I wasn't doing anything wrong. The man, the daddy of the pre-teens, told them to leave me alone and that I was entitled to my opinion and he just wanted to hear Palin. But no, the sheriffs came.
I ignored them. Then, tromping across the re-energized old woman they plucked me right out of my diminishing space. I knew it would be stupid to go limp, (Protest 101), so I started screaming, "Bring out troops home. Stop the war.
Bring our troops home!" all the way up and out of the stadium. I was completely surrounded by at least three sheriffs -- they had to be sheriffs because they had very shiny badges and greenish uniforms. All that work and all you can see of my big party crash with all that media coverage, is one single hand slightly above a group of sheriffs, raised in the classic peace sign. They can't take THAT away from me.
AlterNet is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed by its writers are their own.