Michael Kinsley sneered at participants in the Tea Party Movement, in the Atlantic, dismissing them as people only interested in a tax cut, and challenging their patriotism. Kinsley admires instead the 1960s anti-war movement, which he describes as “selfless and idealistic.”
Bah, humbug! I was there. Whom does Kinsley think he’s kidding? The 1960s anti-war movement was pure selfishness. The student revolution gave people our age the chance to throw their weight around and they took it. Adolescent hormones, excess energy, and self-importance found expression in opportunistic rebellion against authority powered by the disproportionate weight of an unusually large age group sept. A lot of people back then went out to the demonstration motivated by nothing nobler than the desire to see themselves on the six o’clock news.
The antiwar movement had no problem recruiting. Opposition to the war was morally crucial to justify one’s being at home in college, smoking pot and chasing girls, not on the other side of the world with the less fortunate male members of our generation, marching through the jungle getting shot at. If the war was right and a good cause, then we were a sleazy bunch of self indulgent louses taking shameful advantage of our student deferments while the blue collar crowd went to war in our place. If the war was wrong, we were wiser, better people, too noble to support an imperialist war. How surprising that so many people our age found the second theory so attractive.
But an even better reply to Mr. Kinsley came this weekend at a Tea Party gathering of residents of Douglas and Carroll Counties held at Clinton Preserve in Villa Rica, Georgia. The syndicated columnist and talk show host Herman Cain addressed the crowd, then there was a magical moment:
The most memorable part of the tea party occurred near the end. A white-haired gentleman let a young woman go ahead of him in the rapid fire line so he could be last. When he reached the microphone, he introduced himself as Louis, a former Marine, and announced that he had recently heard the second, seldom played, verse of the Star Spangled Banner and then began to sing:
Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto, “In God is our trust”
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
As Louis sang (actually the fourth and last verse; find the complete lyrics here), the surprised crowd began to stand to their feet, remove their hats, and cover their hearts with their hands. As he reached the more familiar last lines, members of the crowd joined in, and the entire crowd erupted into cheers at the finale. Upon completion of the song, Louis turned and hurried away, shaking a few hands that were thrust toward him as he walked. He quickly blended into the crowd, not to be seen again, but a photographer from http://secularstupidest.com recorded his performance and posted it on youtube for posterity.
Hat tip to David Larkin, Karen L. Myers, and Bruce Kesler.