We're Here! We're Godless!
Get Used To It!
There was one underlying theme throughout the entire rally:
You are not alone
This played out in many ways, but it was always there, for some the biggest leap to make is from being a silent unbeliever, alone; to part of the, "We have a voice, we will be silent no more!" So, if you attended, you were one of the real VIPs and part of the we, who will be silent no more, who gathered on Saturday to shout it to the seat of power in this country.
We do not believe...
It wasn't the best weather, but no one attending the rally for legitimate reasons tried to pray for better weather, or even wish it away, no. We came prepared, thanks to science, …meteorology in particular as well as the means to access the predictions made for what the weather would be that day.
We weren't surprised, we were prepared, …ponchos, rain gear, umbrellas. The six people I was with showed up at about 8:30 joined with others from our MeetUp group and we stayed until after Bad Religion finished and the Hitchins tribute, after a first glitched attempt ...played all the way through.
Every speaker made a point of expressing their gratitude to all who came, and most spoke directly to those, still alone and for whatever reasons they may have, afraid to admit their disbelief to any but themselves. They were told, in no uncertain terms that they have a community of others who answer no, to a ridiculous notion that an invisible and unknowable entity has anything to do with reality.
But, this was also about more than just what we as a community, don't believe, and about the many important issues and ideologies attached to that single "no", that we not only lack a belief in, but we won't tolerate any more.
This was a very loud "no" to; religion and state, religion and its bigotries (all of them), and religion and its lies (all of them).
Not just individual atheists who came to the Reason Rally. Groups, often representing larger local groups of Atheists, Freethinkers, Secularists, Critical Thinkers, Skeptics, Foxhole Atheists,
Humanist, Non-Believers; came together to join as one large, unified, and very loud community.
Our van load (minus me), of 7 on our way to the event to join with 7 more to attend, and one of us whom we were proud to see as a participant on the stage. Tommy and Jim on the right, the co-organizers of F.A.C.T.
We are a community of organized communities.
This is another aspect of the underlying theme of this event, for together; we represent a constituency, not just of non-believers, but of voters. Unlike the Teabagger Taliban:
We are a real grass-roots movement.
Arrival, at about 8:30
Where we found the rest of our F.A.C.T. group and set up for the day
Tommy, our tireless driver (there and back) and co-organizer of our trip and our group, Forsyth Area Critical Thinkers; an Iraq war vet and Foxhole Atheist and huge Bad Religion fan.
Yes, the dog tags he wears proudly have Atheist stamped on them.
We had 14 of us at our spot, the 15th member from our group was with the VIPs, Steven Hewett, a Bronze Star recipient and veteran of the war in Afghanistan and also the American Flag bearer for the ceremonies at the rally.
Of the 15 from our MeetUp group, many were veterans. We had diversity going for us, almost half of our group was women, at least one was gay, one was African American, and one wasn't even a US citizen (me!)
Keeping in touch using SCIENCE! …love the black "evil little thing" Jessica Ahlquest hoodie.
The "swag tents", I picked up my Reason Rally shirt and hat before we got to our place close to the stage. There were a lot of Atheist orgs housed there, including Atheist Nexus.
I didn't take any side-trips to go check-out the protesters, but this was off to the side of the crowd close to where we were, so Tommy and I popped over to get a picture. After I got my pic, I walked up to the guy with the Fail shirt and shook his hand and thanked him. Tommy said, "Hell yeah!" and went over and shook his hand. After this, many people followed suit, ignoring the bible thumper and giving the kid his props and shaking his hand, …cool.
It gets better!
Jesus-Fail-Guy has his own YouTube channel, and he had his own cameraman there and was taping everything. So, I'm watching his "part 1" video, and notice that the FAIL shirt kid can be seen from behind, …oh! there's my buddy Tommy taking his picture, …oh! there's me, then, …EDIT… he had to cut out all his preaching for all the time that everybody was shaking the kid's hand. So, when the video continues post edit… nobody's there.
I left him some comments on YouTube:
Oh! Look! ….Atheists!
Flag ceremony, that's Steven on the far left.
Steven Hewett on the big screen, if you don't know about Steven and his story you should read this Blog entry at freethoughtblogs.com. Watch the documentary, yeah it's two hours long but worth every minute spent. I'm proud to know Steven, he's a real hero (having fought both a Muslim and Christian Taliban), and to top it off, a gracious man ...humble to a fault. Jessica Ahlquest is his idea of a real hero.
(Thanks! to Jude Johnson for sending me a better image than the one I had)
We the people…
E PLURIBUS UNUM
Judi Rockhill, was (one of) the sign-language interpreters who did a stellar job keeping up with the speakers and performers and did so in such a way that when they stopped speaking, it would only be a second, a second and a half at most …when they'd be caught up. Wow!
There were several ASL interpreters, these two did the lions share of the work, both were awesome.
During Tim Minchin's song "Fuck the Pope", the camera panned to ASL interpreter S.B. Morgaine and they put her up on the big screen. Some sign-language is universal. The crowd went crazy, I wonder if anybody told Tim that the biggest cheer during his show wasn't for him?
BTW, Tim Minchin was epic.
So was everybody on stage, so were all who made this possible, and most of all, so were all of us who showed up and made sure our voices were heard (and seen).
We were led in this chant by Fred Dewords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason, one of the speakers at the rally. After we repeated this chant many times, he stopped, paused and said, "…and we vote".
Okay, …now some video high-lights harvested from YouTube. I'm going to start with the Hitchins tribute, when it was played, it glitched, this brought everybody down for a bit. After Bad Religion closed the show, they managed to get the tribute on and it played all the way through. We had started to leave, I was the last to follow and I yelled ahead, "Hold up guys, they fixed the Hitchins tribute, and everybody within earshot who was leaving, stopped, turned and watched.
Jessica "Evil Little Thing" Ahlquist
Adam Savage (Mythbusters)
Eddie Izzard (complete)
Check back here over the next few days, I'll be updating content and info as I get it.
So far, 9 videos and the names (and twitter accts) of the fantastic ASL interpreters ….if any want to tweet them kudos.
Update part deux
James "The Amazing" Randi
(Mormons hee hee hee hee)
The Flag Ceremony
Jamila Bey (cut short, but w/interview)
Greta Christina (Incomplete, …still awesome)
Taslima Nasreen (clip)
Bad Religion (first three songs)
This video gives some idea of how huge the crowd was.
(Thanks to fellow Reason Rally blogger matthew greenberg for sending me the link!)
The next best thing to having been there though (as well as a great addition to having attended), is to order an official Reason Rally DVD and get ready to crank it up loud and cheer along with the rest of us...
WE ARE A VOICE
Join your local Atheist/Freethought/Secular MeetUp groups.
Support the many national groups that help make our voices be heard
Comment if you have something to say