One hates to contradict such a likable guy. Mitch Albom has been around for a long time and he’s a great writer with a big heart. Which makes it hard to understand his article about the recent protest in Lansing.
Mitch gets it wrong and I’d like to think he didn’t intend to. His article makes some important points about this crisis and the courage, patience, and wisdom of our citizens. In his telling, we face something like the biblical story of exodus, a slow and steady escape from deadly peril.
So far so good, but that’s not his main point. He wants to draw us a bit further into the story, to the part where a wise and selfless leader, set apart by God, is abandoned by a wild and impatient rabble who throws the community into deeper crisis.
It’s a fantastic metaphor and further proof of Mitch’s genius. But it’s not true. And I suspect he knows it’s not true.
Mitch probably saw the “protest” at Lansing, either in person or via the vast information resources available to him as a reporter at a major newspaper. As a participant, I saw it too – as best I could as one car in a sea of cars. Clearly, I didn’t see everything, but here are a few important things Mitch reports that I didn’t see…
• “A phalanx of gun-toting men in close proximity on the Capitol steps.” (According to Webster, a “phalanx” is “a body of troops in close array” or “a heavily armed infantry… formed in close deep ranks and files.” I’m pretty sure that would have made headlines!)
• “People screaming ‘Lock Her Up!’”
• Citizens “throwing angry protests”
• People “looking for a new golden calf to believe in, one rooted in anger…”
• People in “revolt” when Moses (played by Miss Whitmer, apparently) “doesn’t return exactly on time”
In short, I “see” a very different event by reading Mitch’s article than I did by actually attending the event. I think this was the purpose of the article.
It’s important to Mitch that you think the event was angry – people “screaming”, “rooted in anger”, in “revolt” and “throwing angry protests”, a “phalanx” of frightening warriors. What a sight! I would have been frightened, too.
But that’s not what I saw. Instead, I saw a few thousand cars and hundreds of American flags. People smiling and taking turns, staying in their cars, usually leaving lanes open for local traffic. I saw police officers walking their beat, relaxed and seemingly aware of our support. I suppose we have to call it a protest, though it seemed more of a celebration – a free people reminding their Governor they intend to remain free.
I had second thoughts about going. An event so large is a clumsy thing. I worried we might impede an ambulance and I worried that hotheads (on either side) would create trouble. From what I saw and hear, that didn’t happen, and I am so thankful.
In my view, Governor Whitmer’s executive order pushes aside a beautiful thing, and that is the demonstrated willingness of our citizens to cooperate in a project we all recognize as important. Our willing cooperation was forcibly displaced by something far inferior to it – an odd collection of demands backed not by science, but by a threat of force.
I agree with Mitch that anger is not a solid foundation for anything productive, let alone in a time of crisis. Our Constitution, on the other hand, is exactly the right foundation, and it’s unfortunate that Mitch chose to minimize, dismiss, and misrepresent those who prefer it to governmental fiat.