September 30, 2010
Apologies, folks. This post got hung up in the tubes last night. — Eden
(Stop #12, at the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, was covered yesterday here. Meanwhile, watch below where Alfonso says in response to the question “where are all your [supporters]?” when they encountered protesters in Napa, he replied, “all the Latinos are working while you’re out here wasting your time.” Of course, if it were the reverse, I’m sure it’d be a different story. — Adam)
By Arisha Michelle Hatch
Stop #13: Napa
In Napa, 32 counter-protesters greeted the Vota Bus tour with chants of “more jobs, more jobs.”
As this was the first vocal counter-protest of the tour, the Vota Bus staff didn’t know what to do. Alfonso and a few others got off the bus briefly, attempting to shout over the counter-protesters’ chants.
East San Jose did the progressive community proud today.
Because it was in East San Jose, because the counter-protest was predominantly Latino and because the local NBC affiliate was present to interview Alfonso, the Vota Bus had no choice but to stay and confront it.
And they tried – some were more effective than others. Alfonso is the least skilled – his temper rages and rather than attempting to dial down his tone and present himself as the rational person in the debate, he gets frustrated and tries to talk the loudest.
“Your barrio pass has been revoked,” one Latino activist shouted from a megaphone. He later led a chant of “te vendistes, te vendistes” meaning “you sold yourself.” Alfonso’s response was to tell the crowd that they were failing their community and their race before hurrying back onto the bus.
Alfonso, trust me, there’s no shouting-down that guy. You’ve either got to pull him to the side, find out his story and present him with facts that appeal to his personal values or focus on a different person. Remember, you’re the politician; Brian Brown understood this.
I don’t know what Alfonso is thinking, but I do know that he’s slowly driving himself and everyone else in that bus into a ditch of political failure.
In addition to poor planning and even poorer execution, Alfonso has now instituted a media blackout against the Courage Campaign NOM Tour Trackers which officially means that we’re in control of the narrative. Ninety-eight percent of the articles written about this tour will be by us.
My guess is that Alfonso thinks silence will make us go away. It’s an interesting tactic; Brian Brown tried that tactic on the third day that I was on the Summer of Marriage tour too when he tried to have our videographer arrested in Anapolis, Maryland. He later realized that he might as well just talk to us, but he’s not as confident as Brian.
There are, in my opinion, several reasons why Alfonso’s calculation is wrong:
1) Although he may think the Courage Campaign and the P8TT community is irrelevant, apparently he isn’t watching the Glenn Beck show on FOX News. Check out Beck’s attack on Courage and some other organizations on Tuesday;
2) He doesn’t understand who we are — we did 40 days and 9,000 miles in 100% humidity; this team can do 10 days down the California coast in our sleep;
3) You’re in our state now. The car is already paid for and we all have to get back to southern California anyway;
4) But more importantly, their silence is the real story anyway — it reinforces everything that appears so negative about this tour; it’s not engaging, has no targeting and there’s no attempt to have a discourse that feels empowering or aimed at changing the hearts and minds of anyone they encounter.
Let me say that I know that many people on the Vota Bus are well-intentioned. They want to have that dialogue – it’s the reason they jumped on the bus to begin with.
Tomorrow, I’d like to introduce you to a few of the more open-minded tour organizers. I’ll introduce you to Alan, an anti-choice musician who is quickly becoming my favorite person on the tour because he’s not afraid of discourse or having his views challenged.
Stop #17: San Mateo
In San Mateo, the Vota Bus was met by 14 equality counter-protesters from organizations like PFLAG and Marriage Equality USA. Tour organizers made marginal attempts to engage about 4 people who were sitting in the local park and two of the volunteer organizers attempted to have a civil discourse with two of the equality supporters.
Overall, they still appeared somewhat rattled by the stop in San Jose.
But for now, good night. I wonder what the central valley has in store for us tomorrow?