the political climate in my neighborhood...on bullying and intimidation

I don't like to get too political with this blog but I ran into a neighbor a few weeks ago after a very disturbing incident. I feel it is important to share what happened to her and what is happening to the political climate in this country.

So here goes...

"Dear friends, family, and random people who are probably in my address book for a good reason,

For those of you who don't know that Glenn Beck personally attacked me, by name, on his show a couple of weeks ago, and for those who want some background, here goes:

I moderated the 8th US Congressional District forum Wednesday, October 20th, as a member of the League of Women Voters. While I had expected a contentious forum, I was not prepared for the audience taking control away from me to say the Pledge of Allegiance. This action was recorded by audience members (against explicit forum rules) and has gone viral, even drawing attacks from Glenn Beck.

Let me start with a little background. This forum was co-sponsored by the local high school and the LWV of Lake County, IL, with roughly 400 attendees. Many minutes into the forum, after two high school teachers had spoken, I’d been introduced, I’d explained the rules, and was about to have the first candidate speak, I recognized an audience member who was standing with his hand up. He asked IF we were going to say the Pledge. I said no, and while I was explaining, some audience members immediately began booing and shouting “why not?” Nearly the entire audience then rose and recited the Pledge, after which they applauded. This was NOT an example of having been asked at the start of the forum whether the pledge could be said.

Of course I can't prove that the entire pledge request and follow-up were a set-up, but watch the videos yourself and make up your own mind.

Local media covered the event in balanced fashion, and the local paper carried a front page photo of the audience reciting the Pledge. The blogosphere is not balanced. While vicious about me personally and extremely negative about the LWV, there is a more troubling thread through these comments, which is the use of the Pledge as a public litmus test of patriotism. Among many other comments on blogs, websites and youtube, some people have reposted the newspaper photo from that night pointing out who wasn’t standing. Commenters have said it would be a good idea to insist on the pledge and then see who the traitors are; and, paraphrased, have said that we give them a choice, love it or leave it, or die. One shot one kill.

LWV events take place in our local communities. The audience is made up of our neighbors. I do not believe we can allow one group to use our nonpartisan forum to intimidate other members of the community.

I (and, separately, our Executive Director, Jan Czarnik) have reported threats against us to the police, and Jan has made a report to the FBI.

I’ve laid out the chronology of events at the 8th District forum in the attachment, including links to some of the coverage, if you would like to see how the evening actually went.

Warmly, and a bit nervously,

Here is the video from Walsh’s youtube site. He went outside immediately and filmed the opening statement. Notice that the camera is unwavering on his face, getting his reaction, though one might think that a person speaking from the crowd, or the moderator saying that the pledge would not be said, might have been tempting to film. Note also that it is on his campaign youtube site, though he begrudgingly signed the candidate agreement not to use footage for campaigns.
Joe Walsh: The first time he posted it on youtube his campaign began the written intro by saying that “AMERICANS have shown the League…”
most of the pledge discussion, including after it was said: #2 (at 7:09 me, at 7:33 - "this is America")
Here’s the Glenn Beck show: 6:47 – 11:58! nice. He gets the chronology entirely wrong. Of course, I don’t need to address with League members that we moderators are perfectly entitled to be politically active. I am not even currently on my local board. I was an active Obama supporter. Jan did not work for ACORN, but of course there wouldn’t have been anything wrong if she had. "