Thursday, December 8, 2016

This Machine Kills Fascists

There was this little "thing" that happened on the Texas A&M University campus Tuesday night. A self styled "Alt-Right" speaker came and poured out hate to a room. But the messenger is not what I want to write about. Instead, it is the protest against the message. How do you push back against a message of hate? Well, ridiculing it is one of the most effective ways. As such then, it surprised me not a bit when I saw the photo below of my friend, Donny Hall, owner the local video production company Studio 82 with a boombox and sign that read "This machine kills fascists."

Yep, that's him with his machine down front in the photo to the right.

Donny decided to attack this spasm of speech-hate with the best of tools - his creativity. Thus, Donny brought his own "machine" to kill fascists. He killed it with sarcasm. He killed it with humor. He killed it with irony. He killed it with my personal favorite, an appropriate blast of hip hop at the assembled white nationalists inside the MSC in the form of Lil Troy's "I Wanna Be A Baller."

Yet Donny and his machine's masterstroke was a continuing audio loop of Martin Luther King's speech "I Have a Dream." Caleb Downs, who covered the protests for the Dallas Morning News, shot video of Donny, His Box, and The Speech, here. The precision of the audio, its resonance, and the technical quality are all what you would expect from a professional like Donny.


The coup de grace? Well, Donny did more than protest. He singlehandedly kept the peace. I picked up the Bryan College Station Eagle Wednesday morning to read their news story when something jumped off the page.
More than once, A&M students could be overheard telling these more vocal group of protesters that they weren't going to engage with police or try to overpower them. At least twice, tension was diffused by someone with a boombox who turned to music to lighten the moment. He also played a recording of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I have a dream' speech as several audibly followed along.
What can be said except, well done, Donny Hall, VERY well done.

Several people told me these protests only brought attention to a little band of racists. They said ignore it, let these racists speak to 2 or 3 like minded ignoramuses and then just go away. Perhaps this is right. Perhaps, instead, we live in a time when enough racial antipathy exists that people of their evil ilk can emerge from under their rock and channel that antipathy into something more than just a factional political movement. Perhaps ignoring now means allowing it to fester into something larger and uglier. What I really want to tell the Ignore-And-They-Will-Go-Away crowd is to go read something that articulates why they are wrong better than I ever can: The not often repeated enough speech attributed to Martin Niemöller:
In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist; And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist; And then they came for the Jews, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew; And then . . . they came for me . . .
People like Donny will not let this happen. By fighting with his machine and intelligence, Donny took a stand to expose these people for what they really are - Weak.

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