In 1967 Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman orchestrated an event to levitate and exorcise the Pentagon. Legend has it that the GSA permit for the event was denied when organizers planned 300 feet of levitation. It was subsequently granted when Hoffman agreed to raise the Pentagon a more modest ten feet.
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Saturday, August 15 (coinciding with the Feast of Assumption), an event took place: “White House Witness: 500 Roman Catholic Men Pray at White House to Repeal & Ban Same-Gender Civil Marriage.” At least I think that an event took place.
What is the difference between these two demonstrations?
In 1967 the Pentagon probably didn’t move. Whether or not evil spirits were exorcised is unknown. However, more than 100,000 people participated in the event which garnered a considerable amount of press coverage. the participants were entertained and they had fun. The absurdity of the event was by design and included Hoffman and Allen Ginsberg leading Aramaic exorcism chants in strange headdresses. Ultimately, the event helped to further raise awareness of the war in Vietnam and contributed to its cessation. The absurdity of the whole thing probably saved lives.
So what happened yesterday? While the event was equal in absurdity to levitating the Pentagon, absurdism only works when it is part of the plan. It is unlikely that anyone had any fun at this rather dour demonstration. I don’t know how many Catholic men showed up near the White House yesterday because nobody seems to have paid much attention. As of Friday only about100 men had registered (h/t Ned Flaherty). More importantly, praying the rosary to effect a constitutional amendment is absurd per se. The fact that Brian Brown is unaware of the absurdity only adds to the irrationality. You want irrational? Alan Keyes was to speak at this event. Mr. Keyes is always unintentionally absurd and irrational. Two right wing Catholic cults participated in this event; Tradition, Family & Property and the King’s Men. Neither are my idea of fun.
In summary, the 1967 event turned anger into absurdity and accomplished something important. The only thing that was accomplished in yesterday’s equally angry event was to demonstrate just how foolish its organizers are.
Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Allen Ginsburg were brilliant thinkers. Brian Brown, Mark Houck (the King’s Men) and Alan Keyes? Not so much.