Posted by Lynne Peskoe on December 3, 2010 at 1:23 pm
This morning, from 10 to 11:30 AM, Mt. Auburn Street in front of the Harvard Hillel was packed with absurdist anti-protesters responding to the demonstration of the Westboro Baptist Church across the street. The sixty-odd anti-protesters bore signs designed to highlight the absurdity of the three WBC protesters’ hateful claims by totally thrashing them in a nonsense contest. Some of the best signs of the morning included “GOD HATES MUGGLES,” “PRAISE CHEESUS,” “TEAM EDWARD,” “I HAVE TO PEE,” and “I WAKE UP IN THE MORNING FEELING LIKE P. DIDDY.” There were also people holding up giant rainbow signs, a couple of supportive Quakers from the neighborhood, two WHRB members in rabbit suits and a moose man who was blocking everybody’s view with his magnificent antlers.
Absurdist responses to the hatred of the WBC have precedents in several major cities, most notably in San Francisco, where church members canceled a demonstration in front of Twitter’s local headquarters but the anti-protesters carried on with their randomness anyway.
While many suggest that acknowledging the WBC’s protests is just giving them more of the attention they want, Hillel members insist that this anti-protest is actually a part of a much larger movement toward peaceable activism. In a message to attendees of the Facebook event, Harvard junior Chelsea Link wrote,
“…remember that, really, this event isn’t about the Westboro Baptist Church. They are not worth our attention. But their message of hatred and intolerance is all too common in our country today. We are using them as a foil to the world we want to create – a means to achieve real change in our own communities. This is a movement of acceptance, of support, of engaged pluralism, and of radical love.”
FINAL COUNT: WBC – 6 members. Harvard Supporters – ~300 members.