(Page 2 of 2)
THE CROWD IS UNCOMMONLY polite (and extremely tolerant incidentally of those few who haven’t yet been delivered of the smoking habit, a section being set aside just for them). No shoving, no pushing. The cops are bored. I’m ready for the protest, which consists of the NOW people making one round to the front of the Arena with the chant, “What do we want? Equality. When do we want it? Now!”
In an amusing afterword, the Times Union of Albany in its coverage counted 24 protesters from NOW. I counted six. The comic Stine, who did an encore Saturday evening, counted four-and-a-half.
Inside again, the tone remained unchanged. But in the end, I heard no political propaganda, no advice to call your congressperson. No gay bashing. No anti-abortion themes. Promise Keepers’ official stance is that women are equal to men and it has no position on abortion, no candidates to endorse and no political agenda to pursue. Spokesmen categorically state that PK is not politically motivated, has no affiliation or “formal flow of cash” to or from Falwell or Robertson, and welcomes all men, including gays (okay, they might have to repent a little, but they are welcome). I scoured the bowels of the Arena and found no wife-beating workshops, only a bullpen bookstore with Christian music, hats and other PK paraphernalia, and of course lots of books with themes like how to love your wife unconditionally, spend money wisely and similarly wholesome topics.
Forget the religious themes for a moment. Maybe these PK guys really are just a bunch of dirty rotten liars. Maybe there is the stealth, the hidden agendas, and the “strident cultural messages muted to a point of inaudibility.” Or how about downright non-existent? What, then, is the rock of offense?
These conferences would hardly compel anyone to go home and vote Republican. But if a man relies on God and takes personal responsibility for his life and those around him, as he is urged to do by PK, he is probably not likely to be hoodwinked into believing that government shall supply all his needs according to its riches and glory and the wishes of the Democratic party, nor be fooled by any like statist mentality or liberal ideals — nor harbor any confusion about what civil liberties really mean. Is this the real bee in NOW’s bonnet?