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A Little Background and Follow-up - Salvador Dali in a lawn chair.
I'm invisible without 3D glasses.
lost_angel
lost_angel
A Little Background and Follow-up
Being on the front page of Reddit makes life a bit surreal. I had friends sending me links all day to places where my sign has turned up: Reddit (twice), Digg, PoliticalIrony.com, etc. The most humorous was when my friend, Claus, who is in Panama this week for work, sent another friend, Liz, a link to Buzzfeed not knowing it was my picture.

I thought I'd post a little follow-up for people who didn't understand why I responded so overtly to the theft of a tiny, plastic sign. I apologize for the repetition for those who also read this on flickr.

This sign is more than just a squabble over political yard signs — it's about fighting back honorably. It's about reminding Obama supporters (and those who wish to silence us) that we should never be afraid. It's about the right NOT to remain silent.

In most parts of Mississippi, there are repercussions for being openly liberal. Many people here are very verbally supportive of Obama when in small groups but are afraid to show that same support to the rest of the world. They're afraid to put Obama signs in their yard or stickers on their bumpers. They're terrified of their windows getting broken or their cars getting keyed or their pets getting killed or their kids becoming outcasts at school or being confronted at church — because it happens. This sign is about giving courage to the sizable yet silent group of Obama supporters in this bright-red state.

The political climate in Mississippi is very inhospitable for "liberals". It is stifling. In state and local elections, the Democrats and Republicans candidates are *usually* identical — they both have right-wing, Christian Coalition agendas. Candidates usually differ only on the issue of how much to tax and how those taxes should be spent. There are no pro-choice candidates, no gun-control candidates, no separation-of-church-and-state candidates, no gay-rights candidates. For state-wide elections, both sides regularly break down into "He's more liberal" accusations (see!). For national elections, most Mississippians, and even liberals themselves, believe that a liberal candidate could never carry the state. It's easy to feel hopeless, to feel defeated before you even start. But now we really do have a chance, and of all times to remember that liberals are not alone, that our vote is worth something, that time is now!

So many of the freedoms that the rest of you take for granted are not fully exercised here. I am not equating our yard-sign-fiasco to the burned crosses and murders of our state's past, but these things are in living memory and still influence our lives today. Our parents attended segregated schools in the 60's. Despite federal integration laws, I attended "effectively" segregated grammar schools in the 80's because the city councils and school boards had drawn the districts along racial lines. It wasn't until federally-enforced, cross-neighborhood busing that I was able to attend a fully-integrated school. In college, I worked in the Ole Miss Library archives where we still keep the Mississippi flag that was partially-burned on campus on the day James Meredith matriculated. Even as Ole Miss was preparing to host the first 2008 presidential debate, a large portion of the coverage by the media was about whether or not we'd made enough social progress as a state to host this historic debate with the first major-party African-American presidential candidate.

In grammar school, my sixth-grade teacher lead us in daily prayer and we were unable to excuse ourselves. Many Mississippians genuinely believe that atheists are taking over America and that Obama is a terrorist. I even have a younger cousin who believes that Obama is the anti-Christ. Things have changed, but not nearly as much as Mississippi would like to portray to the world.

I love my country, I love Mississippi, and I love a lot of the people who call Mississippi home. I'm sure there are Republicans living in bright-blue states who probably feel the same way liberals do down here. I don't condone any sign-theft on either side. I just expect people of all groups not to be punks.



The political environment here also makes for some very interesting flavors of liberal people — gun-toting, NRA-card-holding liberals and states-rightist liberals and small-government liberals, but the candidates nearly all look the same because they have been told by their strategists (and perhaps rightly so) if they show any "liberal" leanings there's no chance they'll win.

In fact, I'm one of those weird-flavor of liberals. I'm really more of an independent with my issue-choices often landing on both sides of the liberal-conservative line. But here, in Mississippi, I'm a liberal.

Current Location: Water Valley, MS

13 Voices in a Chorus | Lift Your Voice Aloft
Comments
sxyblkmn From: sxyblkmn Date: October 15th, 2008 08:45 am (UTC) (link)
hell yeah!
(once again)
:)
tanyad From: tanyad Date: October 15th, 2008 10:31 am (UTC) (link)
I thought that was your sign. I saw it in a few Obama comms yesterday and was like... um isn't that ginger's post? *blink*

Keep fighting, here's to a win on 4 Nov!

Oh mind if I link to this post?

Edited at 2008-10-15 10:32 am (UTC)
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: October 15th, 2008 06:08 pm (UTC) (link)
Of course not, link away!
wyldkyss From: wyldkyss Date: October 15th, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC) (link)
They even have the kids thinking Obama is the anti christ. WHERE did that even come from? I mean, seriously?

My neice and her friend asked who we were voting for. I already knew their families were supporting McCain by the stickers and such, but I thought to counter and ask who THEY would choose if they were old enough. I was curious if you vote like your family, you know?

They said, "Oh, McCain. Definitely." I asked why? "Because Obama is the Anti Christ" I said what else did they have to go by? They said nothing. I said well you have to have an informed reason why you choose one versus the other. "That's what our teacher said!" they complained.

It starts early I suppose. At least their teacher didn't seem to be encouraging the Anti Christ theory.
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: October 15th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC) (link)
I wish I had been in the room when my cousin said that she was afraid that Obama was the anti-Christ. I was sitting outside on the porch, but Jimmy was kitchen table when she said it. Being my boyfriend rather related by blood, he didn't say anything, but I wish I'd been inside simply to ask her, "Why? Why would you think that? Is it just because he's a smooth-talking black Democrat? Or do have you started see the "signs" of the end of days?" This is a college-educated, peace-loving person. She's traveled around the world (albeit with Missions). And I love her, but it hurt my heart when I'd heard what she said. I wasn't even an Obama supporter at the time (I think this was around Easter), but still her mindset startled me.

Plus, I think the reason why I am personally affronted when I hear such things is because I was raised by Republicans in a Republican community. I was very active and vocal about my Republican leanings until I got to college, grew up, and realized the world didn't work like they said it did. There are a lot of good, thoughtful republicans who can articulate their ideas, but they get lost among the loudest fear-mongers who bring politics to the pulpit. And they wield so much influence over everyone.
wmleler From: wmleler Date: October 15th, 2008 09:31 pm (UTC) (link)

Actually, McCain is the anti-christ

virginia_fell From: virginia_fell Date: October 15th, 2008 04:23 pm (UTC) (link)
A friend linked me the flickr page for your sign, and I wanted to thank you for it. I thought I'd explain who I am in case you were wondering who this random person is that friended you. *salute*
fabiann From: fabiann Date: October 15th, 2008 04:37 pm (UTC) (link)
found via digg.
Just got to ask, is the current sign still surviving?
everraven From: everraven Date: October 15th, 2008 09:44 pm (UTC) (link)
I'm sure there are Republicans living in bright-blue states who probably feel the same way liberals do down here.


Actually - One Republican living in this red state has this problem ;) Remember, my entire office is Democrat, by boss is a party politician and the majority of my friends are democrats. People stole McCain signs in my neighborhood and replaced them with Obama signs. It has been very difficult to be Republican for me. I can't talk politics with anyone in the office, nor many of my friends. I've actually had people call me stupid because of my choice.

I'll just be happy when it is all over.

The street does go both ways, even here.
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: October 15th, 2008 10:16 pm (UTC) (link)
Of course, the sign stealing goes both ways, and I think it's petty no matter who's doing it. Personally, these repeated episodes up here came across as an attempt at intimidation, "Shut up and take it." I don't like bullies and braggarts. As someone who knows that you once raced outside of your house at 3AM with just a baseball bat and a t-shirt to kill a monster under your house, I know you don't like bullies either.

Even if I could talk politics at work, I don't think I would want to. But it'd be nice to surround yourself with people who had the capacity to respect you even when you disagreed.
pubd2b From: pubd2b Date: October 16th, 2008 03:46 am (UTC) (link)
amen!! from North Mississippi== who is waaaaaaaaaaaay too close to memphis, and all the baggage there...
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 16th, 2008 10:49 pm (UTC) (link)

great post, great sign.... awesome all around

It's a brave thing you've done. I hope your sign stays up for quite some time. I think it's great what you've done and that you're helping America move forward. I hope you keep us updated

Best,
Daniel
vividcuriosity.com
jess_s From: jess_s Date: October 23rd, 2008 02:33 pm (UTC) (link)
nice work! y
13 Voices in a Chorus | Lift Your Voice Aloft