Category Archive 'Amherst'

22 Jan 2010

Weeping into their Cappucinos in Amherst

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The Boston Globe reports from Amherst:

They filed in and out of coffeehouses, all but crying in their cappuccinos, barely touching their carrot cake muffins, still in shock that Scott Brown – a Republican! – had been elected to the US Senate in the state that pioneered universal health care, legalized same-sex marriage, and normally sends 12 Democrats to Congress.

In the days since the unthinkable happened, diehard Democrats have been forced to confront results that suggest Massachusetts votes much the way rest of the country does – blue on the edges with a big red swath in the middle. They have grappled with the possibility that the Commonwealth, until this week viewed by the much of the country as an outpost of extreme liberalism, may not be all that. And that has left them blue – in the other meaning of the word – over Martha Coakley’s defeat.

There is no better place to sense that mood than Amherst and Cambridge, two outposts of extreme liberalism in Massachusetts. They share a self-effacing nickname – “The People’s Republic.’’ They share (along with Provincetown) the distinction of being the most pro-Coakley communities, having handed her 84 percent of the vote. And they share the shock.

“I’m upset. I’m heartbroken. I just hate the idea that the Republicans have just won,’’ said Nick Seamon, owner of The Black Sheep, a bakery/bastion of liberalism on Main Street in Amherst. Yesterday, Seamon served up one of his best-selling Republican Party cookies (“because they are full of fruits and nuts’’), and summed up the jolt delivered by the vote.

“We tend to be a little insulated here. We don’t spend a lot of time in Central Massachusetts, or wherever they voted for whatever his name was,’’ Seamon said.

Across the Commonwealth, the Democrats’ dejection was no less palpable at the 1369 Coffee House in Inman Square.

“In Cambridge I’m surrounded by disappointed and upset people now so I’m not feeling that isolated,’’ Annabel Gill, shift manager at 1369, said Wednesday as she fashioned an elegant leaf design in the foam of a skim milk latte. “But it is a little unsettling to realize that more people in this state want to vote [Republican] than I would have suspected, so that does make me feel a little isolated.’’

This week, Coakley supporters in Cambridge gazed at the electoral aftermath beyond the Republic’s blue horizon and saw a political landscape they barely recognized.

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How liberal is Amherst? So liberal, reports the Telegraph, that the town has actually voted to welcome Guantanamo Detainees.

[The same Amherst is the first town] in the country to pass a resolution welcoming detainees from the prison on the US naval base on Cuba.

Amherst remains a liberal hot spot in a state that until the shock election of Republican Scott Brown to succeed Edward Kennedy in the Senate was regarded as reliably Democratic. …

Amherst wants to welcome any former terror suspects who have been cleared for release into its general population of 34,874.

It has set its sights on two men in particular who are languishing in Guantánamo unable prevented from returning to their home countries by the likelihood of maltreatment.

Ravil Mingazov, a former ballet dancer in the Russian army, said he was persecuted by the authorities because of his conversion to Islam. He travelled to Afghanistan in 2001 before his arrest in Pakistan in early 2002.

Also handed over to the Americans in Pakistan was Ahmed Belbacha, a 40-year-old Algerian accountant. Though deemed not to be a threat by the Pentagon in 2005, he asked to stay in Guantánamo because he so feared torture by his country’s security services. His lawyer has said he “would love to move to Amherst”.

Send them all to Amherst.


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