It was a different story Sunday in Hudson, where 250 to 300 people gathered on a bridge over Hwy. I94 to hold signs and wave at drivers on the freeway and crossing the bridge on the local road.
The number in Hudson wasn’t so intimidating, and some drivers felt free to show their disdain for, and, in a few cases, even hatred for the demonstrators.
Something less than half the drivers crossing the bridge during the time I was there simply ignored us, looking straight ahead. That’s less of such behavior than one usually sees at demonstrations.
The number of people who honked and waved and gave us thumbs-up signs surprised me. It was a much higher percentage than I’ve ever seen before during a demonstration of any kind.
But, of course, there also were those who despised us, and they were interesting. Almost all were obviously relatively low income, driving beaters, clothes by Wal-Mart. (Sorry, but it’s true.) I saw maybe a dozen people flash us the middle finger, and of those, about nine were women. Men who didn’t like us, many of them driving elderly pickup trucks, generally just gave us a thumbs-down. Guys in newer pickups tended to turn the thumb up, and honk and smile.
One man sticks in my brain. He was stopped on the bridge, waiting for the traffic light to change. He was directly opposite me. He was with a woman, and he had a boy of about 9 in the back seat. The boy continually gave us the thumbs-down sign. The man shouted at us, without opening his window, and his face grew angrier and angrier. Just before the traffic began to move, he fully faced the window and shook both fists at us, even pounded them against his window. Then he pointed the index fingers of both hands at his temples – trying to tell us, I finally figured out, that we were crazy, or that we should learn to think or something like that.
That guy, in a beat-up car about 15 years old, with the general appearance of someone who maybe makes $9 an hour, was enraged with people who are fighting for the rights of working people and for the survival of democracy. There’s your real Tea Party, folks.
But he’s very much in the minority these days, and the only thing to do is ignore him and get on with the fight where it counts.
James Clay Fuller