We have already posted several telling interviews from our filming at Glenn Beck's 828 Restoring Honor Rally, but we haven't yet posted our most emotional, interactive, and intense experiences. Towards the end of our day downtown, we stopped to chat with some folks from the crowd- as we did throughout the day. When we began our interview with Madonna from Indiana, we were in the exact center of a circular cement area that is the entrance way to the World War II Memorial. Our conversation started with Madonna, the only person in her group of 5 or so who decided to stop and chat with us. Quickly, however, not only did several of her friends decide to join our discussion, but several onlookers decided that they belonged in our conversation as well. Before we knew it, we were encircled by 30 or so rally goers who decided to engage us (verbally) in an effort to try and convert us to Glen Beck's White Christian Civil Rights Utopia. Below is the majority of the half hour experience in 6 parts and at the very bottom is all 30 minutes of our discussions unedited.
Now I must say, everyone was very respectful and a lot more informed than I had expected. As you will see in the first video, many of them watch the news, but they only watch and trust a single news source. That is always a bad idea, especially when that source is Fox News. Everyone who we spoke to (during this exchange and otherwise) very much wanted to address issues and has the best intentions to make concrete changes to improve America's future. They recognize and are feeling the stresses of the times, but want to revert to our old ways which led to this mess instead of finding new ways to lead us out of it. Many of their thoughts and ideas are skewed to fit within a narrow mindset, imagining we were living in a perfect world. For example, the fellow speaking with us in the second video somehow believes that all you need are clothes and shoes and the government will pay you $900 a week to sweet streets. Theoretically, clothes and the ability to work are the only prerequisites for getting a street sweeping job, but it doesn't mean that you will be able to get that job, especially at $900 a week.
The thing that was most distressing was the veiled racist and anti-Muslim beliefs. Again everyone was respectful - with the exception of a few crackpots who were summarily admonished by the crowd for their overt anti-Islamic statements, no one made any explicit or blatantly offensive comments. But almost every person seemed unable to think anything except that, in some way, every Muslim supports Sharia law and terrorism. They consciously say that they do not hold all Muslims responsible for the actions of the 911 terrorists, but they think that even peace-loving Muslims who have openly renounced terrorism and even worked with the US government to combat it actuality must secretly be supporting anti-American Islamic Fundamentalists.
The entire session, from the first interview with Madonna to being surrounded by a crowd, was really quite an experience in it's entirety and is well worth watching whole. For that reason and so that you can see that we took nothing out of context (a concern of many interviewees, silly teabaggers, Breitbart only does that to liberals) here is the entire 30 minutes of 'They Surround US - Sum of Change Takes on the Crowd at Glenn Becky's 828 Restoring Honor Rally in Washington DC'
In 1994, one of the worst atrocities of my lifetime happened while the world calmly looked the other way. For 100 days, "one group slaughtered another at the rate of 10,000 a day." It was cruel and inhuman, things beyond the nightmares of our worst horror films. When all was done, some brilliant, courageous minds called for forgiveness.
Professor Marc Gopin is the Director at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution (CRDC) with the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. You can follow his work by visiting www.MarcGopin.com. He has focused a lot of his work around interfaith conflict resolution, which is why we asked to speak with him about the controversy over the proposed construction of the Cordoba Mosque in lower Manhattan. Right after we scheduled the interview, news broke that peace talks among Israel, Palestine, and the United States would resume in September. This is an issue that Professor Gopin has been deeply involved with for a very long time now, so we included that in our line of questioning.
Chris Hayes, while hosting the Rachel Maddow Show tonight, brought up his research on the origin of the email smears against President Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign. I dug up this article that I wrote, using Hayes' research as on example, back in March.
Today, Thursday May 13th 2010, marks one year since we signed the paperwork to register Sum of Change. We did not know what to expect when we started but we are proud of what we have accomplished so far. We feel privileged to be able to do this work and wake up every day more appreciative of this opportunity.