My wife and children and several family friends made apple cider this day—about 20 gallons, from the family orchard. I wanted to do this myself, but thought it important to make the sacrifice. Having a strong family as a foundation gives me strength, even when we are apart. Some family members would have joined me except that the cider making had already been arranged before we knew of the Obama rally.
Before I left home, I altered the two Choice signs that I had planned to take. These approximately 3.5’ by 5’ signs have the word “CHOICE” across the top in white letters on black. Below that is a large color (mostly red) photo of an aborted baby at 10 weeks of age. I printed off the letters ANG and with them covered up OIC, which of course then spelled out the theme word of Barack Obama. The signs are mounted on thick light-weight (blue) insulation board purchased at Lowe’s.
[See the Choice signs at www.abortionNo.org ]
I had originally planned to stand on the corner of Victoria and Biltmore to be at a busy intersection and away from crowds, but when I arrived at about 11:30 am, there was no car traffic, so I turned onto Victoria and drove past the Asheville High Stadium and through the campus of AB Tech. There I saw lines and line of people walking to the rally. On the other side of campus I drove up a hill to a nearly vacant parking lot. I gathered up my stuff and walked down to lines of people. The lines where incredibly long and slow moving. I set up the signs along the road in a grassy spot and stood behind the signs. I had not been there more than two minutes when someone who looked like a campaign representative approached and said to me, “You're a fxxxing freak!” I asked him if Obama approved of his language.
That’s how it went. People flinging one line zingers at me, and I usually answering a one liner back. I seldom spoke to anyone unless they spoke to me first. Here are a few samples.
“It’s inappropriate to have those signs when children are here.”
My responses: “People have brought children to a political rally, abortion is a political issue and this is the truth about abortion. Is it appropriate to bring children and make them stand six hours in the hot sun?” (There’s much more to be said about this having graphic photos where children are or may be. I had about a dozen extended conversations on this subject, one with a very irate mom. Another with a self pro-claimed “Christian pro-lifer” who used the f-word countless times in describing me and my activity.)
“Those pictures are disgusting.”
My responses: “Obama’s support for legal abortion is disgusting. What’s worse, a picture, or the reality?”
“It doesn’t even look human!”
My response, “That’s what [little] humans look like when they get chewed up.”
[The middle finger.]
My response, “Is that Obama’s International sign?” A better answer would be, “Does that mean Obama is Number One?”
“Why didn’t you bring pictures of dead Iraqi children?”
My response: “Why didn’t YOU bring them?”
“Sarah Palin gave her daughter the choice on abortion.”
My response: “Show me your documentation.”
“Do you believe in foster care?”
My response: “Yes.”
“Have you kept foster children?”
My response: “No, but my son’s finance’s family has kept about 23 foster children.”
“Well, if only you all kept 23 foster children!”
She didn’t wait for me and walked away while I said, “And one of the foster children is a crack-baby who was born very premature.”
"Those pictures are fake. They're photo-shopped. They [the babies] aren't that developed at that stage."
My response: "Look in any medical textbook. Watch the video at abortionNo.org ."
By in large the crowd was quiet and left me alone except for looking. I think some of the more radical ones were restrained by the presence of so many others. In another situation I would have been concerned about getting beat up or my signs destroyed. A lot of people took my photograph and some thought their camera was an intimidating weapon.
Obama campaign volunteers worked the lines of people, making sure that they had contact information from every person. They had some kind of “ticket” with a tear off stub that one was supposed to fill out and turn in. One campaign worker loudly encouraged everyone to “Vote Early” so as to leave more room for the throngs of voters on election day. One campaign worker approached and said, “I don’t think you’re supposed to be here. The Obama people have rented the entire campus of AB Tech.” I made sure he knew that I was recording him. He left and we heard nothing about this again.
Conversations are the most interesting part of being a sign holder. One young woman came up to me and looked over one of the posters. She told me then that she had given birth to a baby but it died at five weeks (after the birth) of SID’s. She said that the doctors had done an exhaustive autopsy and could not find a reason for the baby dying. I told her that this was very sad. She said that all of her female friends had gotten pregnant at about the same time and all of them but her had aborted. She said that she was glad that she gave birth, and was a mom, though the outcome was a bitter irony. I told her that at least she had a clear conscience. Later on she approached me to ask about illegal abortion.
One woman in her late 40’s came up to talk about war and peace. She said she was against all violence. She was not angry at me or hateful as many peaceniks were that day, but we talked about many things, including the poetry of Wendell Berry.
A close relative of the publisher of a large national news magazine came up to talk. At that moment a woman passed and said, “What about dead babies in Iraq?” After she had moved on the relative said that his/her own spouse was in Iraq at the moment covering news. He/she told me that discussion in the lines waiting to go into the rally was all about the importance of the U.S. Supreme Court in this election.
A woman with a homemade “Patriot for Obama” sign stood next to me for a few minutes. A guy with a “JoeSixPack for Obama” passed by in the line.
A mom brought her middle-school aged boy up to me to show off his nursery song with words the names of U.S. Presidents in order. I knew where he was headed--BO to be number 44.
One couple in their 60’s came up and they were smart alecky and belligerent in a mild way. People who were comfortable in the lives and confident, but not terribly bright. The woman trotted out the top 10 abortion-choice slogans as arguments and the man didn’t want me to take any time to give a thoughtful answer to his questions. (He took my slow pace for not having an answer at all.) Eventually, I was able to talk with the man alone and he was more reasonable. For him it came down to reducing the numbers of abortion because he was against “unnecessary surgery.” I pressed him on this, and he was not totally comfortable with that position and insisted that I was putting words into his mouth. Then he admitted that the surgery was “nasty” and I asked him to tell me why it was nasty, but he wouldn’t, so I said, “You won’t say it, but it’s nasty because it kills a baby.” Astonishingly, he then admitted then that it does kill a baby, but he said that in some circumstances that the baby was better off dead. He then launched into a heartbreaking narrative about how it would have been better if he had been aborted because his father was so abusive. The man spoke as if it had happened yesterday—his father saying that he wished he never had had any children.” I told the man, “That’s sad. But I disagree with you. I’m glad you were born.” About then he walked off, maybe tearful, exclaiming how death was better than life when life is unloved. Those are my words, not his, but his meaning.
The police didn’t bother me at all. I didn’t notice any Secret Service agents, but I wasn’t looking too hard.
Local Republican activist Eric Gorny and his daughter came by and held the signs for me while I took a break and made some photographs. (To be posted here later.) I noticed on WLOS that maybe 100 Republicans lined up along McDowell with a few McCain-Palin signs. There wasn’t much traffic. They should have come up to Victoria where I was and where all the people were. When the line at the AB Tech parking lot diminished, I moved further to the front of the line until it filed away, and then I moved close to the stadium and stayed there until after the rally.
Joe Sam Queen passed by and I called out his name to him. He nodded. He's a Democrat in the NC Legislature. I've seen his commercialsOne lonely guy walked up and down with a McCain-Palin yard sign draped over his shoulder and another guy held a sign that said, “How can Obama be for Peace and Abortion?” Something like that. His sign also bore a Mercedes-Benz symbol, not a peace symbol. They’re similar. I talked with him while. His name was Eddie. He told me that a female African-American police officer said that he couldn’t talk to anybody or she would arrest him. I told him that was B.S. As we stood there (and I had my signs on their sides with the images in the middle facing each other) a man in his 60’s approached and asked if either of us were medical people. Eddie said, “No,” and they guy said that he was a doctor and couldn’t tell us how many lives of women he had saved because he “performed” an abortion for them. I’m not sure if he had done abortion because the women’s lives were in danger from pregnancy or if he spared women going to a back-alley. I wish I had taken more time to ask, but I don’t think he really wanted to talk that much. I asked the doc/abortionist his name, and he said, “That’s none of your concern.” I glanced at his cap and read the small print and asked, “Where are you from, Virginia?” He said something, a brush-off, and then I said, “I was wondering, when you abort, does the baby look like this?” and at that point I spread the posters and showed him the aborted babies. He got really hostile instantly and said, “Better that than the woman dying!” and he hustled away.
“It’s a baby. When they don’t want it, they kill it.” -African-American Grandma to three young children.
It was amazing to hear the difference in reaction between “blacks” and “whites”. Blacks were pretty matter-of-fact about abortion and didn’t say rude things to me. Two black men came up once and the younger took some pictures of me. He said, “This is great” and he wasn’t sarcastic. I noticed joy and quiet confidence in him, not cockiness, and I asked, “Are you a preacher?” He said he was and his father with him, the older man, was too. Many blacks support Obama because he is mixed race, but they differ with him on abortion.
Many people with children passed by and most of the children did not notice the signs, and if they did, some asked, “What’s that?” One African-American parent said to me, “You tell them.” And I answered. “An aborted baby. It’s sad.”
“People didn’t come here to support Obama. They came because they love him.” -A 30-some woman to her companions.
This plays into the messianic/worship quality of his support. It was a little creepy hearing the large crowd yell and scream for him. It reminded me some of the film, “Triumph of the Will,” the Nazi propaganda film of Hitler speaking at a Nuremburg rally in the 1930’s
“I’ll kick your political butt.” This guy was the only redneck Obama supporter I saw.
The dominant response. Quiet shock. The second most common response: Verbalized shock.
One of the Obama merchandise hawkers confronted me aggressively with this question. “Have you ever adopted any children?”
I answered, “About 15 thousand.”
“No really, how many children have you adopted?”
“No. Be serious.”
“Seriously, 15 thousand, except their parents aborted them. Have you ever killed a child?”
The guy wouldn’t listen at this point and loudly talked over me as I said, “If you haven’t killed any children, then you have no credibility representing a pro-choice position.” That's a mirror image of the pro-choice ad hominem argument that says our pro-life position is invalidated if we personally have not adopted children.”
Well, this Obama button hawker had a different spin. He yelled, “If you are holding those pictures and you have not adopted children, then YOU ARE A SATANIST!!!” And then he stormed away. He never gave me a chance to explain how in the past 20 years, approximately 15,000 pre-born children passed me as they were carried into an abortion building. In a spiritual sense, I had adopted them as I plead for their lives to be spared.
I was amazed at how many hawkers and Obama merchandise dealers there were. Some walked around with large cards, others pulled wagons, some had set up tents. I was grateful that some had water for sale and I bought two bottles and was given a third by Eddie. I told the vendors, “Water is the best thing you have for sale here.” Apparently, the sellers follow Obama’s campaign appearances and sell bumperstickers, T-shirts, buttons, caps and so on. Clearly, Obama has star quality. I asked one vendor if he was with the Obama campaign or if he was only a private entrepreneur. He said that he and a couple of his buddies take stuff around the country to sell and they all search the internet to see where Obama will be next. Kind of like the String Cheese band groupies. I wonder if you could buy Obama gear at Wal-Mart? One vendor was near me and the signs and politely asked me to move because, “Those pictures are killing my business. I’m just trying to provide for my family.” I moved away. It didn’t cost me anything.
When the crowds thinned away, I left. I walked to my van, put the signs away and sat in the shade until the road was clear.
Closing reflections. If the presence of two signs “killed” the vendor’s Obama merchandise business, just think of what 200 such signs would do to an Obama rally. One passing person commented to me that I was “raining on our parade.” To use a Sarah Palin expression, “You’re darn right.” People came to the Obama rally for fun and sunshine, and to see a celebrity. Well, this is politics and politics is a dirty business, especially when their candidate supports the legal killing of children in the womb. These pictures of an aborted baby are not my pictures. They are, in essence, the pictures of our abortionist friend from Virginia and the Democratic Party and Barack Obama. It is true what many critics said at the rally that John McCain and Sarah Palin will do little about abortion. Except that little is something and it’s better than ensuring that abortion remains legal forever, as is Obama’s intention. I look forward to seeing the Palin family live out their pro-life values before the world, with her as Vice-President and later as the elected President of the United States, if that is to be.