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Autos show-Protests at odds with each other and amongst themselves

January 12, 2010

(Written by Correspondent Nick Carey)

Two protests outside the conference center in downtown Detroit where the auto show is being held provided an odd image.

This was not merely because the two protests — one by workers protesting for more help for workers amid the bailout of the U.S. financial sector, the other ostensibly by “tea party” activists — were rather small, barely a few dozen altogether. Though it must be said that seeing protesters outnumbered by journalists, and there are hordes of us here, is always a surreal experience.

But the oddity of the occasion manifested itself in two ways. First, the two groups of protesters were separated from each other by a one-lane road and a few from each side — and there were maybe a dozen or so more of the workers than the “tea party” people — stood at their respective street corners and stared each other down. Both groups were confined to a small patch of concrete that for 90 minutes they could call their own.

 Some waved banners and chanted their slogans, but for the most part everyone was civil. Perhaps that was because the workers and the main part of the tea partiers were there to protest more or less against the same thing: bailouts. The workers were against bailouts for Wall Street bankers, while the tea partiers were against bailouts, period. So there was little for them to shout about, or maybe it was just too cold to argue.

But the group that left both sides feeling uncomfortable, including many of the tea partiers, was a small group on the same side of the street as tea party activists. At first this group seemed to be one and the same as the tea party folks, but evidently with stronger feelings about the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama. This group of a half dozen or so protesters carried posters depicting Obama sporting an Adolf Hitler mustache and the words “I’ve changed” — a play on words from the “Change” platform on which Obama ran for president in 2008.

They sang songs including an unnerving, and historically inaccurate, ditty about Nazi doctors and how Obama was becoming like them thanks to his healthcare reform. As this group became more vocal and sang more loudly about Obama’s similarities to the Nazis and Hitler, the other tea party activists moved away from them and occuped the edge of their patch of concrete and leaving the center ground to this small band.

One of the tea party activists to distance himself from this group was Andy Moylan, a 26-year-old who said that he had tried unsuccessfully to remonstrate with this group prior to the protest and asked them to discard the Obama-as-Hitler posters.

“They’re sending the wrong message,” he said, jerking his head toward the group. “I oppose Obama’s policies vehemently. I don’t agree with what he is trying to do. But I believe that he is well-intentioned, even if he is dead wrong. Comparing him to Hitler is not only wrong on so many levels, it also reflects badly on us because all the pictures in the papers and on TV will be of them.”

“Our message will get lost in that,” he added.

(Reuters photo)



The Obama-as-Hitler people sure succeeded in getting more than just the tea party message lost. Yours too, unless your aim is to divert attention away from concerns of US workers that their jobs, their healthcare and pension funds are far too unsafe from TBTF corporate predators no matter how gaily glowing auto show-related prognostication of alleged turnaround may be.

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