USA Vote 2008

Culture Wars: New Yorkers give McCain supporters the finger

On the U.S. presidential campaign trail, the focus lately hasn't been on just the candidates - but their supporters as well, with each saying the other side is out of control. John McCain tried to dial back the rhetoric late last week. And now, some of his supporters are saying their opponents are just as bad - if not worse. Read more...


On the U.S. presidential campaign trail, the focus lately hasn't been on just the candidates - but their supporters as well, with each saying the other side is out of control. Sen. John McCain tried to dial back the rhetoric late last week. And now, some of his supporters are saying their opponents are just as bad - if not worse.

Blogger Pamela Hall of the Squirrel Brigade recently participated in a march for McCain through New York City's affluent, liberal Upper West Side - and captured some of her opponents on film as they yelled at her group. A fellow blogger from the People's Cube edited the video and inserted some comments:


Pamela Hall spoke with France 24 about that march through Manhattan, and what it's like to show support for a Republican in a very liberal neighborhood:

Marching for McCain in Manhattan

We had already done a couple of walks, one was in Washington Square Park and I had thought that one in particular might be heated. I've done a lot of counter-protests down there and I sort of expected a verbal, vocal crowd, and there were some hoots and hollers but it was actually a very civilized crowd. So we headed uptown and we had an even more enjoyable walk. Again, you get applause, you get some boos, and there was one woman who was in shock. She was frozen. She was maybe 68 years old, she looked very comfortable, like a very educated woman, but her face was frozen in horror and she kept saying "How can you, how can you, what are you doing, what are you thinking?"

Again, there were some hoots and hollers and some applause - but not this en masse thing that happened on the Upper West Side. It was like a mob. One group just fed the next group, and the next group, and the next group as we headed uptown. And the flipping off, and the thumbs down, and the shouts of "More war!" and "Nazi Germany!" it was like something from central casting. They were very angry and we were fine. We've never been anything but polite and positive, and just like you see in the video we just kept proudly walking through.

It was hysterically funny. We were laughing. We never felt threatened, but we were a little deaf at the end of it because it was very loud. Someone insinuated that we doctored the sound, but I can tell you I did not doctor the sound. It was that loud. In the one section where the big fat guy is yelling at us, that block was the loudest of all the blocks. Those people at the restaurant tables were very loud.

These people kept coming and going. They'd walk away, but some of them were so angry that they'd come back. The only person that was ready to burst out of her skin, and I think it was woman, was the person you see in the video who goes "Nazi Germany! Nazi Germany!" That person with the Prince Valiant haircut, she was so physically angry that if she could have done something physical, she would have. She knew she couldn't, but I've seen that body language before. She was jumping out of her skin. She wanted us erased, she wanted us gone. But I don't think anyone was going to cross a physical line.

This should be embarrassing to them. I feel they've lost contact with what it is to let somebody just do what we did, which is just walk around with a bunch of signs. That's all we were doing. They said, "Go back to Ohio, go back to the suburbs." One young woman was very, very, very angry. She kept carrying on about abortion. Every once in a while there was someone like that. Like the lesbian on the bicycle, she had so much fun constantly double-flipping us off and riding her bicycle back and forth. These people were really convinced that we didn't belong there.

What you don't see in the shorter video is we really did have a lot of people applauding us and thanking us and giving us high fives. Who knows if they were Republicans, or if they were just appalled by all the yelling and screaming. Sometimes people came up and whispered "Thank you, I'm so glad you're here, I'm so glad to see a McCain sign."

There was one charming family, just as I ran out of video, this one family looking like they came from a Norman Rockwell painting. They knew we were coming back, and as soon as we got close they lined themselves up across the street and began chanting "Obama! Obama!" and I posted what I had of them because I thought they were the one little spark of charm among the Democrats we had met. I really thought they were sweet. What a nice example for their children - they didn't flip us off, they didn't curse, and there were plenty of people there with children who did that, but this family found a pleasant way to make their statement. It was healthy, I thought.

It was an amazing experience. I didn't expect the en masse response of that area, but I never felt threatened there. I was assaulted recently at a subway station when I was handing out McCain fliers with another supporter. We were standing there, talking to each other, and a rather benign, doughy-looking Jewish guy - not a person I would have expected to assault me - he saw us and he ripped a McCain sign out of his hands, broke it and tore it. And I said "What are you doing? You can't do that!" And he was red in the face screaming, "You people are ridiculous!" And I said "Yeah, whatever, but you can't do that."

So I reached for the sign that he ripped up, and he grabbed another sign, broke it and ripped it to shreds. And when I said "You can't do that," he took the stick from the sign and started beating me on the head with it. He broke the skin on my head, he scratched my wrist, and I thought he broke my glasses, but he didn't, and then he left.

I followed him down the stairs until I could get the police and I said, "You're not going to get away with it." And as soon as he saw the police he immediately went calm. He still had the stick in his hand, and you could see the injury on my face, and he admitted it. He was arrested. He actually said "I don't know why I did this. It's just those signs, and this election, it has me so upset."

Some people are losing control, and it's not the people on the right. Never have I seen that with any of the people on my side of the fence. Do we sometimes feel a desire to yell back at the left, yeah, and sometimes newbies will yell back and expend more energy than they need to. But past that, no. Physical behavior, no. Crossing the line - it's just not our way. Look at us, most of us have never been protesters on our side of the fence. This is new.

Does everyone have a lunatic? Yes. We might have a lunatic, but I can't name anyone right now. Do I feel that the left is aggressive and potentially violent? Yes, because we've all seen it.