If the two Larouchian activists (and I use that term very loosely--misguided souls would be a more appropriate label, as would loons) that set up shop at Solano and Cornell today were trying to get a reaction, they got one. From me. In spades.
I innocently walked past their booth (pictured here) this afternoon on my way to drop off a package, totally in my own little world. I would have completely missed their loathsome display if the woman standing there hadn't grabbed my attention by saying, "Sir, come over and help us impeach this bum."
As the word "impeach" might imply, the bum in question was President Obama. And to be honest, if all they'd done was called him a bum, my derisive look as I walked away would have been the end of it. But no, on my way back across the street, I had to notice the picture of Obama sporting a Hitler moustache. And that was that. My blood started to boil. Rage welled within me. An insultingly casual Hitler reference on MY little Albany corner? I don't think so!
I didn't think I could be any more offended, but when I walked by, spouting something along the lines of, "Are you freakin' kidding me with that?," the woman's partner in lunacy, a man who was on the phone, responded with, "Can you be quiet? I'm on a conference call."
Are you kidding me? You put a Hitler moustache on a picture of the just-re-elected President, set up shop on a corner in one of the strongest liberal enclaves in the country, and expect to have conference calls in peace? You're lucky a crowd of pitchfork-carrying leftists weren't burning you at the stake, buddy.
As much as I wanted to tear into the guy, my wife and two boys were waiting in the car, so I decided to return to them, but I was steamed. I drove them home, put the preschooler down for a nap while my wife went to nurse the baby, and then did some research on the topic. I found out that some barely articulate woman named Kesha Rogers (a Larouche disciple who happens to be black and claims herself as an anti-Obama Democrat) ran for one of Texas' spots in the House of Representatives in 2010 on a platform that was even more simplistic than it sounds: "Save NASA. Impeach Obama." (These words were splashed on the booth in Albany, as well.)
The NASA angle is a convoluted one that has to do with dwindling resources for the agency and a perceived undermining of our efforts to explore space, but it's worth noting that after winning (!) the Democratic primary in her election, she was trounced by her Republican opponent largely because the Democratic Party refused to give her a single dollar, saying that Larouche followers are "not Democrats." (Thank goodness for level-headedness.)
Armed with this extra insight into the history of the Larouche movement, I got on my longboard for a spirited ride to my much-desired confrontation.
I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it so say there was not much agreement. And no matter how much I insisted I was not there to debate politics, but rather to call into question their incendiary tactics, they kept bringing the discussion back to the Glass-Steagall Act and other hot-button topics that, while worthy of debate, don't come close to justifying the use of Nazi imagery. And I'll be damned if I'm going to dishonor my Jewish ancestors by allowing someone to callously slap a Hitler moustache on a poster being displayed in my neighborhood for my children and their friends to see, whether that poster depicts Barack Obama, Dick Cheney or Bozo the Clown.
(I will offer that I was impressed with one facet, which was that they were willing to air these views in Albany of all places.)
Beyond the Hitler distraction (and it's a big one), the beliefs these people were spewing reminded me that this is what politics has become in this country, even on the grass-roots level--mud slinging, name calling and character bashing. And here's the kicker: I asked them, okay, once Obama's impeached, what then? Who you got in mind? The woman's answer: "Joe Biden would be okay." Seriously. That sound you hear is whatever shred of credibility they might have had spontaneously combusting.
Note to other Larouche zealots who might be reading: If you're going to go so far as to invoke the image of Hitler, at least have a viable alternate path in mind. Otherwise, keep your poisonous philosophies to yourself.