Protesting Pelosi in Houston, and Looking at the Bigger Picture


By Jamilah Hoffman
On Friday, June 12, Nancy Pelosi spoke in Houston at an event sponsored a group called the “Progressive Forum”. The Progressive Forum Houston is a mainstream organization that presents speakers who are supposed to bring political and cultural voices that enrich, “our democracy and culture by presenting the great minds we believe are advancing the success of the individual, our species, and life on the planet.”
Since Pelosi has gone along with Bush's program on war and torture, and now Obama's continuation of Bush's program, some people in the anti war and movement called for protests. Some people associated with both World Can’t Wait and Revolution newspaper also went. But as I walked to where the event was being held, I saw a lot of American flags. I know that there are so-called progressives who wave the flag, but even this was too many for them.   I realized that we were walking into an angry batch of reactionaries and extremists. 
Imagine my shock that on a steamy Friday night in Houston, over 200 people would come out to protest Pelosi, not because she knew about torture and did nothing about it. Not because she continues to support imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or took impeachment of Bush off the table. Rather, their messages ranged from the “teabaggers”, the majority of the people there, who wanted “no taxation without representation,” to the Minute Men/Border Watch people with their hatred of immigrants. There were anti-abortion, christian fascists and pro-capitalist people as well. It was a range of people with different messages that all boiled down to a reactionary view of the world.
I think that it's important to look at the bigger picture. I think that this particular event in Houston, that brought out all of these reactionaries, showed just how determined and angry these people are. And it's not just relegated to the South but, in fact, has manifested all over the country. I think the assassination of abortion provider George Tiller, the murder of the security guard at the National Holocaust Museum by a known white supremacist, and the California Supreme Court ruling upholding Proposition 8, which makes gay marriage illegal in that state, I think all of these things are connected and show how divided things really are in this country.
And the fact that in Houston, the anti war groups were able to bring out significantly fewer people to protest Pelosi for the right reasons – her complicity with torturers - than were the reactionaries highlights the need for people to wake up and confront reality. These reactionaries are not going away, and ignoring them is not going to work. We cannot seek common ground with people who are so extreme in their views that they cannot reason with reality. 
The political atmosphere has changed since Obama took office; this is something that we need to seriously get into, understand, and transform.