At My Nose

by David Glenn Cox


so it has come to this, an army of mercenaries, Bible thumpers and

right wing staffers invading town hall meetings trying to shout down

healthcare reform. The media on the left express outrage while the

media on the right play along with the gag. Have we all forgotten the

2000 election? The congressional staffers pounding on the doors while

the protesters with fresh-painted signs paraded out front.


the thirties, when Americans fought for labor rights, there were

bullyboys, thugs, stoolies and finks. Henry Ford had the lavatories

bugged and operated his own police force with scads of informers on his

payroll. These people attended union meetings and gave the bosses the

names of all those active in the union.

When needed, these

toughs would come out to the picket line and start trouble. If they

could start a fight then maybe the cops could haul everyone in and

break the picket line. That is how my grandfather got his head split

open, thugs trying to break a legal picket line while the cops assisted


It is important, however, that we view these new rabble

rousers like we would the first dry leaf of fall. They are a sign of

what is coming down the road and a sign of how serious the Republican

party and their clients, the healthcare industry, are about derailing

all of this.

This campaign is part theater but it is also part

intimidation. The intimidation is part of the theater because the

congressperson will quickly become frustrated trying to shout down a

mob. The mob, in turn, then tells the press, “He wouldn’t answer our

questions.” The flip side is to have the unruly removed or screened at

the door before entering. After all, if it’s a town hall meeting for

the Fifth District in New York and you’re from Ohio, it’s none of your

concern. Of course that would be met by chants of Nazi! Which would be

treated on Fox News as a Breaking News Alert!

In early union

halls members would stand up to propose a motion of support for

whatever was on the agenda and then a plant would stand ostensibly to

agree, and then add while we are at it how about a motion of support

for the Communist party! Which would be met by shouts and jeers and

maybe the guy would be thrown out of the meeting. If he was thrown out

the local headline would read “Union Meeting Broken Up by Disagreement

with Communist Hard-liner.” If he wasn’t thrown out the headline would

read, “Union Hall Votes on Communist Resolution.”

This is not

new and it will continue and we on the left should be ashamed of

ourselves for not doing it first. Not with thugs and bullyboys but with

you and me showing up at town hall meetings and asking pointed

questions of our Republican congresspeople and not letting them off the

hook with easy answers.

I once worked with a guy who was in

charge of getting out the Democratic vote in his ward in Chicago. When

the polls opened the Republican sheriff had placed police cars in the

parking lots in African-American precincts. His response was to hire

real gang members to hang out in the parking lots of the white

precincts. The message was clear and direct; you fight fire with fire.

You don’t back down and you don’t give up.

This is first and

foremost a media show about creating a ruckus for the benefit of the

camera. The mainstream media will never be on our side, but the camera,

despite their best efforts, will still sometimes show the truth. In

October of 1967, 50,000 people rallied at the Lincoln Memorial and

marched to the Pentagon against the war in Vietnam. No matter what the

media said, the sight of 50,000 people said more.

In August of

the following year, protesters disrupted the Democratic National

Convention in Chicago. In what was later ruled a police riot, the

protesters, through non-violence, prompted a violent reaction from the

police. Hubert Humphrey’s candidacy was toast and Mayor Daley was

toast, as well, but it inadvertently gave Nixon the White House and the

Vietnam War went on for four more years.

These are the cauldrons

of revolution from where chain reactions start and know not where they

will lead. Those who would try to intimidate you with a thought will

quickly move to sticks and then guns. Those who can be intimidated by a

mob of gray-haired, beer-gutted, Bible toting blue hairs need best to

stay home. You’re not needed.

Woody Allen once said, “In

Hollywood, 50% is just showing up.” In politics it is probably more

like 70%. Those that will fight and stand their ground and not let

themselves be intimidated by the fear something bad will happen will

soon find out that something good will happen. Imagine the busloads of

these charlatans met by two or three hundred lined up, arms crossed and

steely-eyed in the parking lot.

Suddenly they remember prayer

vigils they had promised to attend or maybe they forgot the question

that they were going to ask and maybe their ringleader gets shouted

down and they slink away. It is not pretty politics; it is practical

politics. The middle class has never been given anything in this

country without fighting for it. We are grossly outnumbered by ten of

millions of dollars. They own the newspapers and the cable news

networks. They can buy loyalty but that kind of loyalty can’t stand a

fat lip.

We have each other, and millions of each others, to

boot. This is where and how we fix democracy, where push comes to shove

both figuratively and literally. To not respond to a bully only makes

the bully bolder, but to punch a bully in the nose gives a release

denied even in prayer. My father used to say, “The right to swing your

arm ends at my nose” and sending out thugs, elderly or otherwise, to

break up public meetings is at my nose.

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.