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Here is the thirty-ninth video in a series of computer animations called The Unicorn With An Attitude that I started back in the 1990’s in an ill-fated attempt to show off my abilities as an artist and a computer whiz in the hopes of either 1) get famous or 2) get a higher paying job than the office administrative work that I was frequently offered.

This is another one of my more political animations that I created just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. As the original writeup for this animation puts it:

The Unicorn With An Attitude meets a Leprechaun With An Attitude with violent yet funny results!

I created this animation back in 2001 around the time when various LGBTQ Irish-American groups tried for years to participate in the St. Patrick’s Day parades in both Boston and New York City (starting in the 1990’s) only to be denied by the organizers in both cities. They tried filing lawsuits only to have the judges side with the organizers.

To me it was totally surreal because at that same time I started to know more open LGBTQ people in my Unitarian Universalist congregation (that denomination was in the process of encouraging its member churches to go through the Welcoming Congregation program in order to be more welcoming to those whose orientations are anything other than cis-gender heterosexual. On top of that, I am of both Irish and Scotch-Irish ancestry (along with German, Scottish, English, Welsh, and Czech) so I definitely paid attention to what was going on with the effort to diversify the St. Patrick’s Day parades.

In response to the news at the time, I created “Leprechaun” where The Unicorn With An Attitude meets a leprechaun at the end of a rainbow. The two fantasy creatures hit it off real well until the leprechaun started to display an ugly side of himself and the unicorn reacted to this in a way that only a unicorn could.

Thanks to an increasing tolerance towards LGBTQ in recent years (including the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states in the United States), this animation is now quaint but it still serves as a reflection of a less tolerant past from not too long ago. This year, 2015, marks the first time that openly gay groups could march in Boston and New York City on St. Patrick’s Day.

So, without further ado, here is “Leprechaun.”

Last Saturday there were two demonstrations that came through my hometown of Washington, DC just in time for the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous March on Washington that culminated in his classic "I Have a Dream" speech.

Several months ago that really loony right-wing pundit Glenn Beck announced that he was going to have a special rally to "Restore America’s Honor". He kept on saying stuff like God told him to have this rally in DC and he just happened to pick August 28 . He later said that he didn’t realize until later that it was the MLK anniversary and he thought it was a great idea to hold his own rally. <sarcasm> Yeah, right. I guess he didn’t have any access to the Wikipedia so he could research that date quickly </sarcasm>. I could provide more background on both Glenn Beck and this occasion but last Thursday’s The Daily Show did such a great job that there is no way I could match that so I highly recommend that you see the video.

In the meantime there was some kind of organizing going on via Twitter under the #p828 discussion of people who were pretty pissed that a man who once described himself as being an entertainer is attempting to lead a march and rally that would elevate him as Martin Luther King’s successor. There were talks about counter-demonstrations against Glenn Beck’s delusions of himself as the next Martin Luther King. I was pretty annoyed myself since I think he’s a lunatic kook. (To learn more about how crazy and paranoid he can be, I highly recommend that you check out Lewis Black’s rant on The Daily Show from a few months ago about how Glenn Beck has Nazi Tourettes.)

Normally I’m not much on counter-demonstrations. I’m a big believer in people having the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and the freedom to assemble together in order to petition the government to express grievances–even if I am personally opposed for the reason behind such a demonstration in the first place. Counter-demonstrations tend to draw a very small group of people (100 or less) whose message gets lost in a sea of the main demonstration, they arouse the ire of the main demonstrators and it breaks out into arguments that sometimes lead to arrests, and I just feel that they are a waste of time.

Well this isn’t just some usual demonstration. This is a giant rally that was being organized by a television personality whose sanity I question at times yet has managed to attract a following. Not long ago I finally did a Google search to find out why Keith Olbermann keeps on referring to the guy as "Lonesome Rhodes Beck" and I learned about a 1950’s movie called A Face in the Crowd. I put it in my Netflix queue. That movie is such a revelation on many levels (for example it’s one of the rare instances where Andy Griffith plays someone other than a comical easy-going good ol’ Southern guy and he did a convincing job of it in that film) and I felt like the movie somehow made a future prediciton about people like Glenn Beck.

If he had done his rally on any other weekend, I would’ve just ignored him because people like him do have the right to organize a peaceful rally and march even if I don’t personally agree with the message. But holding it on the anniversary of MLK’s "I Have a Dream" speech held a darker meaning for me. Glenn Beck is attempting to fashion himself as the next MLK complete with his own movement–never mind the fact that Beck opposes some of MLK’s stands. (For example, King was a big believer in social justice and Beck has used his show to urge people to quit any churches that are big on social justice because social justice is just a smokescreen for socialism–which is the one thing that, Beck said, the Nazis and Communists have in common.)

Even though Glenn Beck has expressed fear of Nazism, I feel that he is using some of Adolf Hitler’s same tactics to gain fame and power for himself. Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, where he outlined his policies, while Beck has written many books where he has done the same. I’m becoming more and more alarmed at Glenn Beck’s antics to the point where I’m starting to feel that he has the potential to become a threat to democracy in the United States. I’ve never felt that way towards any other political pundit of any political stripe until Glenn Beck came along.

I eventually learned that the Rev. Al Sharpton was planning his own rally and demonstration in honor of MLK. At first I thought it was a counter-demonstration until I learned that this is something that Sharpton’s organization does every year around the King anniversary. With the Beck event, this year’s event has also taken on an air of a counter-protest.

I was sitting on the fence about actually participating in it. I sent a link about the Twitter discussion on the counter-protest to some of my Facebook friends, many of whom are also involved in my Unitarian Universalist congregation, and two of them expressed concerns about it turning into a violent slugfest. Those concerns faded away when I learned about the Sharpton march and provided a link about it. Other than that, I didn’t really talk to too many people about it. That’s because I still have less than fond memories about the time when, as a very young adult, I went with a few friends to the 20th anniversary of the King march in 1983 and it was high heat (I remembered that it was in the upper 90’s that day) and high humidity. I was so parched that when we took the Metro back to the Takoma station (where one of my friends’ car was parked), we headed to a nearby 7-11 where I ordered a Big Gulp Coke. I drank that Big Gulp in one sitting, which is something I normally can’t do. Until this year I stayed away from any more King commemoration marches because August in Washington, DC can get really hot outside.

Well this past week was relatively balmy by DC standards. It was hot but the humidity was low. I waited until the a few days before the march before I finally made a decision to check out DC. That was because I happened to catch The Ed Show on MSNBC and found out that Ed Schultz was speaking at the Sharpton march. As you may have known, I had a chance to check out Ed Schultz in person when I was volunteering at the Free Health Clinics event in DC a few weeks ago but I was so exhausted and drained from my shift that I ended up going home where I caught the broadcast on television. Well imagine my surprise when I learned that I had a second chance to check him out in person again. It wasn’t like I was praying to God asking for a second chance or anything like that. It just happened. So I decided to go for it.

Another motivation for me to go to this rally was that I was totally pissed at the type of people who currently follow Glenn Beck like he’s some kind of American Messiah or something. Someone posted this visitor’s guide to DC that urged people to avoid riding the Yellow and Green Lines on the Metro system because they are "dangerous". Look, I’m willing to admit that crime is a problem in DC but avoiding entire subway lines is NOT the way to avoid being a crime victim. Besides, I live just a few miles away from a couple of the stops on the so-called "dangerous" Green Line and it’s definitely NOT some criminal war zone.

My husband is still in Florida, as of this writing, and I didn’t get around to contacting many of my friends. I decided to just go in the hopes that I would run into someone I know and hang around with him/her/them.

My original plan was to go to the Sharpton rally and march until it ended at the Tidal Basin at the site where the Martin Luther King Memorial will be erected, do some filming with my portable video camera, then cut over to the Lincoln Memorial where the Glenn Beck rally was taking place, do some more filming, then get out of DC because I had purchased tickets to attend a special locavore dinner that my Unitarian Universalist congregation had planned for that evening. (My congregation is trying to get certified by the Unitarian Universalist Association as a "Green Sanctuary" and holding a locavore dinner featuring locally acquired food is one of the requirements.)

Things didn’t really go off as planned. I was late arriving to Dunbar High School because the Metro was crowded as all hell so it took forever to add money to my Smart Trip farecard plus the subway train was doing track maintenance work so it was moving slowly. So the rally started when I got ther by 11:30 a.m.. But it turned out I had nothing to worry about because the march wasn’t going to start until 1 p.m. So I was able to sit on the football field made out of plastic astroturf, eat the lunch I had brought with me, and listened to the speeches. I caught Ed Schultz’s short yet uplifting speech on video.

I had hoped to run into someone I knew but I didn’t know anyone at that event. People were nice and friendly to me but I felt like kicking myself for not contacting someone I know about coming to this event.

I was glad that I had the foresight to bring the water bottle/fan hybrid that I purchased during my recent trip to Walt Disney World because the high heat and high humidity came back with a total vengeance. (I later learned that the temperature reached around 88 degrees Farenheit.) It was so hot that the water inside that water bottle/fan hybrid had turned warm so I was left with warm water. (At least the fan part worked so I was able to get some cool breezes coming my way.) It was so hot that the frozen ice pack I brought with me melted really fast and failed to keep the three cans of Diet Pepsi I brought with me cold so I ended up drinking warm soda.

I listened to a few other speeches. DC Mayor Adrian Fenty got a mixed response since he’s been a running a pretty controversial reelction campaign this year. NAACP Ben Jealous got a bigger round of applause but one guy near me gave a big boo and started to yell out Shirley Sherrod’s name indicating that there are still hard feelings over how Ben Jealous reacted to the whole Sherrod incident. Then Rev. Al Sharpton came to the podium where he gave a 17-minute speech. I’ve filmed it and put it online in its entirety so that anyone can see it without any kind of media filtering or editing. The sole editing I did was to break the video up into two parts but I didn’t omit any sentences from that video.

So we began the march at 1 p.m. and it was such a bottleneck getting out of Dunbar High School that it was unreal. By the time we were on the street, there were at least two people who were loaded on to ambulances. I guess the heat had gotten to them. I began to shoot a lot of miscellaneous footage of the march, which I’ve cobbled together and uploaded online. It’s not a slick professional job but it should give you an idea of what the march was like.

Things were fine once the march got going even though it was totally hot. Even though there were a lot of African-Americans marching I also saw plenty of whites and an occasional Asian in that crowd. We marched for a while until we hit Chinatown. I started to feel extremely hot by that point. The march went past the Verizon Center and I remembered that there is a Metro stop there. The closer we got to the Metro stop, the more tempted I felt to just head home. I looked down on my watch and realized that it was 2:30 and I had a dinner to go to that started at 5:30. I gave in to temptation, went to that Metro stop, boarded the next subway, and headed home.

When I got home over an hour later and saw the route published in the Metro section of The Washington Post, I realized that I had only marched a 1/2 mile from Dunbar High School to the Verizon Center. I was sort of peeved at myself for being such a heat wimp and missing out on something that could potentially be a turning point in this nation’s history but I just couldn’t help myself. Besides I really didn’t want to miss that dinner.

The next day I read The Washington Post and came across this story that made it seem like the Beck and Sharpton events were racially segregated with whites going to the Beck event and the blacks going to the Sharpton event. Since I didn’t make it to the Beck event, I can’t say that it was all-white (although the published photos didn’t show any non-white faces in that crowd) but it was a misnomer so say that the Sharpton event was all-black. The videos I posted in this blog should show that.

What really got me was that the story said that the Sharpton event drew a much smaller crowd, which floored me because I remember the bottleneck getting out of Dunbar High School. I’ve seen small protests in DC over the years featuring crowds of less than 500 people but the Sharpton event could not be considered a small protest with low turnout.

In addition, I saw photos showing large number of people at the Lincoln Memorial. I felt despair that many of my fellow Americans seemed to be glomming on to Glenn Beck and there were enough of them to cover the Lincoln Memorial grounds and the reflecting pool. My husband is still in Florida as of this writing so I couldn’t talk to him about it. I began to think that maybe millions of people had turned out for Glenn Beck and he really does have a major movement going that could change the course of U.S. history, which made me more depressed.

I did some miscellaneous web surfing in an attempt to cheer myself up and I needed a cheap laugh so I went over to Keith Olbermann’s Twitter feed to see if he had done his usual hilarious bashing of the right-wing trolls who send crazy stuff to him, hurl all kinds of sick accusations that you can think of, and call him "Keithie". I found this link he had posted to a CBS News article about Glenn Beck’s rally. CBS had used an outside company called to come up with estimates and it came up with an estimate of between 78,000-96,000 people in attendance. Beck’s original rally had planned for 300,000 attendees.

The company used aerial shots taken during the rally’s high point at noon and based its estimates on that. I know that there are right-wingers who will claim that it’s not accurate at all and that millions of people had turned out but at least someone attempted some kind of scientific data. Then again, there are plenty of right-wingers who show such a disdain for science–look at how worked up they get over the issue of teaching evolution in science class in the public schools.

Here are a few more stories about both the Beck and Sharpton events:

Huffington Post

BBC News

Clusterfuck Nation

I felt better knowing that Beck’s movement haven’t reached all Americans yet or whipped up most Americans into following him the way that the Nazis whipped up most Germans into following Hitler. But I’m going to be watching the election polls for the mid-terms this November to see what the hell will happen.

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