What’s up with Brighton?

This afternoon, shortly after the President addressed the students of America with his controversial message of personal responsibility and educational achievement, thousands of angry local men and women gathered in Brighton, Michigan for a tea party… Here’s some video of the event:

As you might recall, I mentioned Brighton in a post yesterday, as their public schools were among those refusing to share today’s truly terrifying Obama indoctrination video with school children.

Sorry for the tangent, but remember a few months ago how there was an uproar over the fact that Obama had been seen in the White House with short sleeves? If you’ll recall, the argument at that time was that he didn’t show sufficient respect for the office of President. People on the fringes of the right were absolutely up in arms about it. Anyway, it makes me wonder why people aren’t now outraged by school districts, such as the one in Brighton, that chose not to air the President’s message. Surely, it would seem, that demonstrates a lack of respect toward the office of the President. Or doesn’t that matter anymore?

Speaking of which, if you’d like to write to the Superintendent of Brighton’s schools, his name is Gregory Gray, and you can reach him at: grayg@gwise.bas.k12.mi.us. In Gray’s defense, he said that his students wouldn’t be able to watch because teaching time is precious… So, I guess that means there won’t be any pep rallies and the like this year. Sorry, kids.

Back to the tea party, it seems that the highlight was a rousing speech by everyone’s favorite tax-dodging patriot, the anti-government former welfare recipient known affectionately as Joe the Plumber, who railed against big government Socialism.

It actually looks like a lot of fun, in the same kind of way that German beers halls must have been (for some) when this guy was getting people fired up. People were waving handmade signs about Socialism and death panels, and singing along to catchy songs. And FOX, the only major network to refuse to air the President’s speech to kids, was on hand to document the outrage. I guess somewhere along the line they must have decided that protests against the party in power were worth covering. Whatever the reason, it was good to see them there, flexing their journalistic muscles.

So, here’s my question… What is it about Brighton that makes it so attractive a spot to host an event like this one?

It couldn’t by any chance have anything to do with the fact that it’s one of the whitest areas in the economically depressed Metro Detroit area, with 96.61% of people identifying themselves as white, and only .34% identifying themselves as African American, could it?

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47 Comments

  1. Posted September 8, 2009 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    I should add that I have friends that live in Brighton. So, it wasn’t my intent to suggest that everyone there is small-minded, racist, etc. I’d even go so far as to say a good number of the folks attending the tea party are probably good, open-minded people with legitimate concerns. It does concern me, though, when I see fear being used as it is today, to motivate people not to work together to find solutions, but to pull away from society, buy arms, and sink deeper into paranoia. I don’t like at all where I see this headed.

  2. Posted September 8, 2009 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Wow. That place is packed… and that a seriously high percentage of white people. I’m sure all these same people were out in the streets when Bush spoke to school kids. Yep.

  3. Posted September 8, 2009 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    And let me just add that, perhaps better than anyone, I know that change can be terrifying. If OCD has taught me anything, it’s that… So I’m not judging those who look at the state of the world and feel nostalgic for the way things once were. I get that. I really do. I just think that, at some point, reason has to win out over fear.

  4. Oliva
    Posted September 8, 2009 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting Superintendent Gray’s email address and the whole sordid other stuff.

    I lived in Brighton a long time ago for a little while. At that time there was like .6 percent African American(s), and there was a black man who lived in town (back then the only black person I ever saw there) who walked on a wooden leg, and I crassly thought for once a statistic made a kind of empirical sense. (I always felt for the man in a town known back then for its intolerance.) There were some brutish types around there, not-nice people–among plenty of good ones, surely. But then the place exploded with growth. Sadly, they tore down the amazing place Burroughs Farms (acres upon acres designed many decades earlier and there for employees of Burroughs Corp. to come in summer and recreate; by 1980 or so the trees had grown large and wild, the landscape retaining its ordered design, nature and artifice in a longtime marriage, grown so beautiful), now a housing developments, from a decade or two when Brighton grew and grew. With that, more good-hearted people moved there, people of varied backgrounds, mixing things up, and some of the area’s more brutish character seemed like it was really being left to history. Such was the hope and dream. But the sight in the video is pretty horrifying, that headless (and heedless) swelling hatred awfully close by. I heard people are coming in on buses for this round of tea parties. That they were welcome in Brighton is creepy and so disappointing.

  5. EOS
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    There were 3 local tea parties yesterday: Brighton, Troy, and Jackson. Seems like you singled out Brighton in order to support your racist label. China is protesting the devaluing of the American dollar. Are they motivated only by race as well?

  6. watching laughing
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    I’m sure, if receiving, the tea parties will, with a smile and, no problems what so ever, refuse all Socical Security, Medicade, Medicare etc.
    And if received the programs for years, will pay back all the money to the system.
    Is Mike Rogers returning his government paid grade A insurance?

    Watching Laughing.

  7. Edge of Obesity
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    It seems like a no-brainer for this tour to stop in Brighton. It’s a highly white, very conservative city, experiencing the worst of the economic collapse. People are losing their homes, and the middle class is drying up. There’s a lot of fear. I wouldn’t attribute it to racism, though. At least not consciously.

  8. Merrey
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    President Obama, please don’t judge Livingston County by this event. Many were bussed in (can’t we think for ourselves?) and many were interested parties representing the side of change. I’ve worked 36 years in the market place and will not have health insurance when I retire. Anyone (non-union) hired by GM after 1991 will not have health insurance when they retire. The way the economy is going, many companies are withdrawing this benefit from their retirement packages. We are supposed to be a ‘superpower’ but many children, parents, and grandparents lack basic health care. What is wrong with this picture? This should be part of the country’s infrastructure as a basic necessity. Yes, it will be expensive but so is the alternative. Stop sending so much foreign aid and start working on our national human condition. It’s about time we spend on ourselves and let the other countries take care of their own. For those of you who don’t want socialized health services, get off Medicare!

  9. Oliva
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    From TeaPartyExpress.org:

    Woo hoo!! Thirty-five cities, thirty-five tea parties in sixteen days!!

    . . . if you are going to DC for the big March on Washington and National Tea Party on 9/12, you won’t want to miss our National Freeper Convention!! Click here to order your tickets today!!

    If you can’t go to DC with us, we hope you will click here to support FR or to donate to our convention or travel funds!!

    Or mail checks . . .

    Thank you all very much!!

    Hope to see you in DC!!

    Rebellion is brewing!!

    Woo hoo, the spirit of the War of Northern Aggression continues. Rick “the Rebel” Perry helped resurrect the secessionist language–“rebellion” as loaded a term as “crusade” for churning up threatening raw emotion over reasonable solutions.

  10. cenus-stats
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    The other two cities are overwhelmingly white as well:

    Troy-
    White persons, 82.3%
    Black persons, 2.1%
    American Indian and Alaska Native persons, 0.2%
    Asian persons, 13.3%

    Jackson-
    White persons, 73.9%
    Black persons, 19.7%
    American Indian and Alaska Native persons, 0.6%
    Asian persons, 0.5%

  11. watching laughing
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    If people want to protest, regardless of your skin color, that’s fine;
    but come on, how about protesting something not completely so freakin ass backwards?!

    Watching Laughing.

  12. Kim
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/142493/tea_bagger_bus_company_sued_over_fire_that_killed_23

    One of the featured corporate sponsors of the Tea Party Express had to pay millions of dollars to settle lawsuits for its role in a bus fire that killed 23 seniors fleeing Hurricane Rita in 2005.

    The BusBank, a Chicago-based charter company, a “Tour Sponsor” of the Tea Party Express, a rolling protest sponsored by the Our Country Deserves Better PAC under the supervision of former Republican state legislator Howard Kaloogian, now a PR exec for the GOP-linked firmRusso, Marsh & Rogers.

    Bus Bank is also arranging to ferry Tea Baggers to their 9/12 march on Washington to voice their demands for unfettered capitalism.

    In 2005, a bus carrying seniors fleeing Hurricane Rita burst into flame outside of Dallas, killing 23 nursing home residents. Investigators later found that the bus was: driven by an undocumented migrant without a valid U.S. driver’s license, lacking adequate fire extinguishers, and not licensed to operate in Texas. When the bus had mechanical problems before the crash, the driver took it to an unqualified mechanic who failed to notice the critical fault–an unlubricated axle that eventually melted and burst into flame.

  13. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Okay, all lameness of the neocon strawmen aside, the “you can’t say that unless you get-off-medicare /social security” argument is bullshit. They were forced to pay into it for years, and now’s their promised time to get their money back. If it were voluntary, and they could immediately get back what they put into it and opt out, you might have a point. But they didn’t have a choice on whether they paid into it or not — it was taken from them and there was nothing they could do about it, unless they wanted to face down some ATF snipers. If their taxes were taken from them by force on the promise of getting them back, they are owed their taxes back. You can’t make people do something they don’t want to do on the promise that they’ll get something back, then when they argue against your overbearing actions say, “well, you better not accept back what I owe you then, or you’re a hypocrit!” That’s a manipulative, bullshit argument that an abusive person would make to try to turn it around on the victem.

  14. watching laughing
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    You right wingers can’t have it both ways.
    You had your chance, screwed the country up to biggest dive off a cliff ever in the history of the US.
    You lost in a landslide last November.
    Good bye, see ya,

    Watching Laughing.

  15. kjc
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    i have no sympathy for these people terrified of change, considering what we’ve been dealing with for the past 8 years. seriously, *now* everything sucks?? ridiculous.

  16. watching laughing
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Here is just a lovely one of many hot off the press, “PARTY OF FAMILY VALUES” member.
    Classic.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Idw-CzHwgc

    Watching Laughing.

  17. Anonymous this time
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    This is the same city where I worked for a local monthly coupon magazine and we received threatening phone calls for a solid week after running an ad featuring the left half of a woman’s torso (she was clearly wearing a bathing suit) because we were “promoting obscenity” so I think it goes without saying that Brighton has issues. The biggest problem that I’ve found in that city is that the people who run it are more concerned with pleasing their most vocal citizens – you know, the ones who call and complain about bellybuttons in magazines – in situations where most cities would normally take a stand and say “you are all welcome to your opinions but as a city we are moving in this direction and that’s that.”

    I would hate to see Ann Arbor or Ypsi run that way, where the opinions of the most negative, curmudgeonly old coots in the city are given the highest respect and the loudest voice. Someone should remind them that they are putting out this public image that makes them look like the laughing stock of SE Michigan.

    I used to tell people I was from Howell, then I could only manage to admit that I grew up “near Brighton” but now I can’t even bear to make that association. This is embarrassing and sickening but I don’t think that city will ever stop operating on the fear that the lunatic conservatives are the only ones voting for public offices.

  18. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    You had your chance, screwed the country up to biggest dive off a cliff ever in the history of the US

    2nd biggest, now. Obama is not only continuing, but expanding Bush’s horrible spending policies, not to mention the War on Terror.

    Leave it to the guys who lied to you to out-do the guys who lied to us.

  19. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Obamacare supporter resorts to disruptive tactics and physical violence; tea-party victem turns the other cheek.

  20. kjc
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    “2nd biggest, now. Obama is not only continuing, but expanding Bush’s horrible spending policies, not to mention the War on Terror.

    Leave it to the guys who lied to you to out-do the guys who lied to us.”

    No offense but bullshit.

  21. Michael R
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    photos of kids before and after the Obama speech.

    http://imgur.com/A9mDD.jpg

  22. Oliva
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    The problem is so deep and multi-stranded, and it’s been afoot much longer than eight years–unchecked corporate greed, poorly educated adults, on and on. For example, here’s Naomi Klein addressing former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan (9/24/2007): “when Reagan took office, CEOs earned forty-three times more than their workers, and when you [Greenspan] left the Federal Reserve, they made more than 400 times more than their workers . . .”

    Greenspan: “. . . with respect to the increasing inequality of income . . . we’ve had a dysfunctional education system in this country, both in primary and secondary schools, which is showing up in all of the studies, which indicate that while our children in the fourth grade are doing fairly well relative to international comparisons, by the end of high school, they are in terrible shape. . . .”

    Poorly educated people don’t explain the income disparity directly–as in Americans just can’t keep up technologically, Greenspan’s argument. More like some “rebels” have been tricked into propping up the very entities that are harming them most and are now luring them onto buses to fight strawmen, while the forces behind the dumbing-down efforts chuckle, grin, and stay rich. If the rebels weren’t such bullies and hotheads, with some really disturbing remarks and ideas, egged on by imbeciles like Beck, it would be tempting to give them some of the love they’re crying out for and join forces to hold the real bad guys accountable.

  23. Oliva
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    “Obamacare” was coined as a derisive term. Remains offensive for that reason, even if some of his supporters have mistakenly used the word.

  24. EOS
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Medicare is socialism? If I get back a tenth of what has been taken from me, I’ll be one of the lucky ones. Had I been allowed to invest my money on my own, I’d be rich.

    If there isn’t the possibility of earning significantly more money, there won’t be anyone willing to risk their capital to create jobs for the rest of us. If you envy what others earn, then take the initiative, risk your life savings and make yourself a high paying executive at your own company.

  25. kjc
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    “Had I been allowed to invest my money on my own, I’d be rich.”

    no, you’d be broke.

  26. EOS
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, I meant to say a high paid executive.

  27. watching laughing
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Ohhhh, that’s fine. Up is down, these days.
    Pull it right out of their asses.

    Watching Laughing.

  28. Oliva
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    We could use more high paying executives . . .

    While we’re at it, add greater economic justice and equality so that people can stop focusing on greed and need and false controversies and start enjoying true wealth, the kind that has little to do with currency. Just think of the public health possibilities, among many other things.

    How to separate sense of self-worth from accounting of net worth?

  29. EOS
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Oliva –

    What’s stopping you? Why don’t you start a company and pay your hourly workers the same wage you pay yourself?

  30. Oliva
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    EOS, you assume things. Not everyone wants to be a boss, though I have had employees whom I pay exactly what I make.

    But running even a tiny business can take you too far away from the very enterprise you set out to do for a living, that you love and excel at. Squasher of excellent impulses, if that is your makeup. Imagine a better system, more fulsome values, more satisfied people. We don’t have to love [or read: how in the world could you love?] our present-day economic system or even keep it. It was never a fair representation of free market capitalism, and the free market idea that’s a gem in theory isn’t so swell anyway, what with its preference for “market forces” over realities of humans’ lives. But if historical examples serve, these are giant matters that can take whole lives to make sense of even roughly and serious clear thinking along the way.

  31. Oliva
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Wishing I’d been clearer about this, EOS: It’s a pleasure to watch good people excel as businessmen and women. It’s just not for everybody–competition isn’t. Makes some people curl up and feel small, throw up, lose it, just not enjoy life enough. Whereas some people thrive on it. But ideally there’d be plenty of room for, means for, those who don’t easily fit in the world of commerce, given the many other worthwhile choices.

  32. Posted September 9, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    I grew up in a trailer park out there and couldn’t wait to leave. I currently live on the most diverse street I’ve ever lived on. It’s here in Ypsi. I wouldn’t change that for the world. Fuck Livingston County.

  33. Mike want longr name
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Oliva, commerce is not limited to people in suits pouring over quarterly earnings reports, it is something we are all engaged in, and it is the foundation of all human society. The only people who can live outside the world of commerce are those who descend into the wilderness and provide for themselves in isolation. Commerce is what has bound us all together, and makes friends of enemies.

  34. Oliva
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Mike want . . .

    I shouldn’t have used that word, was using it loosely, to vary “business” (and per Webster’s, which offers the loose definition too). I thought someone might quarrel with that word used that way (it’s a blog, after all). But I appreciate the concern for being more scrupulous. (Oh, but why did I take the original bite offered by EOS? C’est la vie.)

    What I meant was that the particular requirements, skills, needs, etc., of running a business, varied though they be, are not for everybody and shouldn’t necessarily be a measure of worth or pressed on people as a highest goal. And that it’s nice when the economy still has decent room for valuable others not so good at running businesses or making it big in the sometimes wonderful, always brimming commercial realm that, while badly flawed right now, goes far in giving lives meaning, provides means and measures for exchange, and much more. Ugh, but in macro terms is way too complex, with many sordid aspects.

  35. Joanne
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    Everyone has forgotten that Brighton is near Howell which is home or was once years ago, home to the local KKK. I’m sure the same sort, if not the same group, is behind getting everyone so riled. This means not only are extreme Conservative types up there, but that they are extremely extreme, hate mongers, racists.

  36. Andy C
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    I grew up in Brighton, and even though many folks walked around with a crucifix up their ass, I’d say it is one of the more liberal towns in Livingston County. With that being said, Joanne’s comment really says it all.

    On another note, downtown Brighton has really been suffering due to the large amount of strip malls. I can totally see the downtown welcoming thousands of people there. I’m assuming since these “people” are against Obama’s tax hike for the rich, they must all be making at least $200,000 plus a year. That’s some good cash for a dying downtown.

    It’s also right off of US23 and I96. Easy on and off.

    Last time I was at that location was to see an Elvis tribute artist with my parents.

  37. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    “2nd biggest, now. Obama is not only continuing, but expanding Bush’s horrible spending policies, not to mention the War on Terror.

    Leave it to the guys who lied to you to out-do the guys who lied to us.”

    No offense but bullshit.

    Exactly what part of what I said do you assert is untrue, kjc? That Obama has continued Bush’s over-spending policies, or that he has expanded the war on terror? I will happily produce evidence to back up my claims.

  38. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Really? No one cares that our city bus services were cut this week?

  39. kjc
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    BA, i think it’s bullshit to compare obama to bush and say he’s done more damage to this country.

    and andy, yes i do care about the bus service. i know many people who will be affected and all of them need the bus to get to jobs. period. i hope the issue gets as much attention as ypsitucky (for example), and i’m glad mark is going to post on it. it’s sickeningly suburban to not care about public transportation in this city.

  40. Robert
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    In all fairness, there isn’t a whole hell of a lot else to do in Brighton.

  41. Oliva
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I agree with kjc and thank Andy for refocusing attention meaningfully, re. the buses. Really bad timing for that meeting, right after long weekend and time of dynamic change in households as people adjust to the first day of school and other things. I wasn’t at the meeting but had wanted to be very much. Thank you again, Andy.

  42. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    BA, i think it’s bullshit to compare obama to bush and say he’s done more damage to this country.

    Why?

  43. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Hey, you know me. Local issues first. Besides, if I want to hear Obama bashing, I’ll just listen to Theyrone On the Edge on AM1600. I really like that guy. I may not agree with all (if any) of what he has to say, but I sure do like the way he says it. And he’s as local as it gets. I would still like to suggest a post City Council party after every meeting at the Tap Room. We can listen to the Witch Doctors, talk about city issues, and argue politics with Theyrone. We need to get more buts in the seats at Council meetings…

  44. Camel Elbow
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Theyrone is hilarious. Better than Colbert.

    And I think we should drink during during City Council meetings. If our City Council members can doze off, eat candy and play video games during meetings, I don’t see why we can’t enjoy a beer or two.

  45. kjc
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    “BA, i think it’s bullshit to compare obama to bush and say he’s done more damage to this country.

    Why?”

    I think it minimizes the offenses, not to mention *crimes*, of the Bush administration. I don’t agree with a lot of what Obama’s doing, but I don’t think Bush contrasts favorably.

    I’m for the post-council Tap Room idea.

  46. KD2
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    I graduated from BHS 10 years ago but am loathe to say that I am from there.

    I spent most of high school grumbling about the small mindedness of small towns but I know now that I really didn’t get it.

    Brighton is not a real small town. It WAS a small town but had the misfortune of being located in the ideal “bedroom community” location for Flint, Ann Arbor, and Detroit so it swelled with McMansions. The wealthy immigrants were not usually from small towns but were people who were attracted to the idea of a small town. In the worst cases, they were not small minded because they were natively provincial but because they were attracted to the idea of provincialism.

    Moving there from Saginaw Township (not exactly a cosmopolitan place, but black people actually live there) I was shocked to hear kids using the N-word in the halls of the high school. I told my mother and she was shocked. When she complained about this to another parent she was told that “people move here for a reason, you know.”

  47. Man About Town
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    I see fat rich white people protecting the status quo and that’s all I see in Brighton.

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