I attended the Tea Party in downtown Dallas – one of several that were held yesterday throughout the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. I am not good at guessing crowd sizes – local media reports say that “several thousand” attended the downtown Dallas event. The Fort Worth event was held in a stadium where it is easier to make a count and that attracted over 4,000 protesters. Several events in the suburbs had crowds that local media outlets say ran into the several hundred. While Fort Worth is home, I attended the Dallas event as it was closer to where I work and was the largest and best publicized one in the area and the one most likely to get media attention.
The Dallas event exceeded my expectations. The speakers, for the most part, were articulate and interesting. The event was emceed by local talk show host Mark Davis – people outside North Texas might be familiar with him as an occasional fill-in host on the Rush Limbaugh program. Blogger and columnist Michell Malkin phoned in and briefly spoke to the crowd via a cell phone held up to a microphone.
My favorite speaker was the very first in the line up, Phillip Dennis, the man who initially organized the Dallas protest and someone I had never heard of before. He noted that he had spotted several signs in the crowd that made mention of Atlas Shrugged and John Galt. He asked for a show of hands from the people who had read Atlas Shrugged. A lot of hands were raised – from my vantage point, it looked to be perhaps 30 – 40 percent. He then said something to the effect of: “Well, the rest of you now have your reading assignment – and we are going to be doing another one of these tea parties in July and there will be a quiz, so go out and get the book and not just the Cliff’s Notes.” He then went into a brief description of the plot and concluded by quoting John Galt’s oath: “I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” I was a little stunned that I was actually watching it. I overheard someone in front of me asking the lady next to her: “have you ever heard of this book?” to which she replied: “Oh, yes – it’s LONG, over 1,000 pages, but it is great, you need to read it. ”
My rather pathetic homemade sign (I am NOT good at arts and crafts type stuff) read “Atlas Will Shrug” on one side and “It’s Not Your Wealth To Spread Around” on the other. At some point, a nicely dressed man in a suit walked up to me, put his hand on my shoulder and said with a little grin in his voice “It’s not your wealth to spread around – boy, you just don’t understand, do you?” The man somehow looked VERY familiar but I couldn’t place him until later on in the event when Mark Davis mentioned that “Dennis McCuistion of PBS” was on the stage. Some readers might recognize McCuistion from Leonard Peikoff’s and Yaron Brook’s appearances on his program.
I did take some photographs. Here are the ones I was able to get of some of the Atlas Shrugged related signs I spotted – there were a few more that I saw that I either did not have a good vantage point of or spotted when it was inconvenient to reach for my camera. All of these signs I had to zoom in from quite a distance to photograph. Unfortunately, because the crowd was so large and dense, it was not really practical for me to walk in closer and see if they were being carried by anyone I might recognize from the local Objectivist community.