Pictures of a Tea Party:
It was the Fourth of July in Red State America, 2009. The Rude Pundit had celebrated by eating various kinds of grilled meat, and, yet, he still felt empty inside, like he needed to be among people who knew the meaning, the true meaning of this day. So he read about the local tea party going on in a local park, even though it was hotter than Satan's taint outside. After asking if any of the other carnivores wanted to go with him, alone he headed out.

In the park, there were about a hundred or so people gathered in the three strips of shade provided by the trees. The Rude Pundit walked through, looking at signs that proclaimed the people present disapproved of socialism, liberalism, and Barack Obama.

This gentleman's sign expressed his desire to not be anally raped, although he seems a bit ambitious in how low he could bend.

In case you can't tell, it's an image from the end of the film Planet of the Apes, with Charlton Heston on his knees before a ruined Statue of Liberty. That's President Obama's face as an ape. The Rude Pundit asked the man who was carrying it if he had gotten it off the internet. "No," the man said, "I made it myself."

Actual conversation (in play form):
RP: Did you make that yourself?
Man in Colonial Drag: No, Betsy Ross made it.
RP: (pause) So...um...General Washington?
Man: No, but I'm proud to be one of his aides.
RP: (thinking about an AIDS joke, but wanting to survive the day) Well, Ms. Ross did a fine job. Can I take your picture?

The man would later lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, in front of a band's drum kit that had a confederate flag dangling from it. A woman in costume would sing the National Anthem. Another man would read from the bible. It was really a catch-all kind of event.

Inside the air-conditioned rec center gym, another 200 people or so gathered to watch a John Birch Society video about how communists take over the country. Not pictured are the people in the bleachers. Some long-haired dude in what looked like a buccaneer's coat told us at the end that the event was not sponsored by the John Birch Society, but that he just thought the video was informative.

There were tables with all kinds of information about health care, abortion, taxes. The Rude Pundit heard one table attendant hold forth on how fascism was more widespread than communism, but that we need to be cautious about both. It didn't make sense then. It doesn't make sense now. But the people he spoke to were nodding.

Much like that sign there, which says, "46 million without health insurance...who are they kidding? 9.7 million are not even Americans." How do you argue with someone who can't even admit that the stat is over 46 million Americans? You don't.

No, instead you sigh, thinking that it's too hot a day. You debate in your mind whether or not this is a real movement or just a bunch of people who too readily believe all the goddamn lies they're fed. You get a free sno-cone (sour apple flavor). You listen to the costumed kids sing, "God Bless America." You leave when the band starts to cover Lee Greenwood's fucking song. You go to see fireworks downtown after the local symphony plays. You hear that people around here don't put pro-choice or pro-Obama stickers on their cars because they'll get keyed. You know this is America, too, yes, and, unlike the tea partygoers, you recognize it because, even as they celebrate a so-called "revolution" and hope for another, some things never change.