I must confess you have a very different perspective when you’re actually part of the program. One big difference is that you feel compelled to show up. With the party scheduled to go from 2-4 on a day the temperature was in the high 90s, I suspect I would have come up with a very good excuse for staying home with the air conditioner helping me to maintain my sanity.
But having given my word, I was stuck having to drive over the hill from the San Fernando Valley.
I have no way of judging whether the turnout was better or worse than expected. The L.A. Times estimated the crowd at several hundred, the Beverly Hills Courier put the number at 400, and I would have guessed 600.
Not only were there no racist signs, but there were four black speakers. There were only a few more than that in the audience. Liberals would insist that the sparse turnout is a sure sign of racism on the part of the Tea Party, but the sad fact is that 91% of blacks vote for Democrats, so why would anyone expect them to show up at an event celebrating conservative values? The fact is, very few blacks show up at classical music concerts or in classical music orchestras, for that matter. I’m not casting aspersions, but merely stating obvious facts. Heck, I, too, would rather see a ballgame at Yankee Stadium than a violin recital at Carnegie Hall. Does that make Carnegie Hall anti-Semitic?
The crowd in the Beverly Hills park was respectful, which is more than I can say for some of the speakers. We had all been told that because of our large number, we would all be limited to five minutes. Clearly, not everyone thought the time limit pertained to them. When the temperature is hovering around triple digits, getting on and off the dais as quickly as possible is a very good idea. At 4 o’clock, the Beverly Hills cops reminded Pat Boone that the event was supposed to be over. By agreeing to pay a sizable fee, Mr. Boone bought us an additional 45 minutes. But all of us who had not yet spoken were asked to cut our five minutes in half.
At 4:30, I leaned forward and tapped Pat on the shoulder. I offered to forego my time because the woman seated to my right had been waiting patiently to go on, and I figured it was the gentlemanly thing to do. Besides, after sitting in the heat for all that time, I assumed she would have a much larger dry cleaning bill than I would.
Perhaps because I had made the offer, Mr. Boone insisted I take my turn. I spoke, but cut my remarks down to a minute. But, then, instead of hustling the woman, whom I believe was Sharon Sebastian, co-author of “Darwin’s Racists,” on stage, they brought up some comedian I had never heard of, who not only didn’t edit his inane remarks, but who went over the five minute mark, ensuring he would be the last speaker of the day.
And on that sour note, we had to vacate the premises.
The good news is that, as usual, the Tea Party guests left the park neater than they’d found it.
The bad news is that even in conservative ranks, some people are so infatuated with the sound of their own voices that they allow their over-inflated egos to trump common courtesy.
For those of you who may have been happily surprised to hear that a Tea Party took place in a town as notoriously liberal as Beverly Hills, allow me to set you straight. If I had had a little more time on the dais, I planned to ask the crowd to let me know with a show of hands how many of them actually lived in the community. I had made a bet with myself that the only hand that would have gone up would have been Pat Boone’s.
©2010 Burt Prelutsky
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