By Matthew Rothschild on December 19, 2011

Despite Gov. Scott Walker’s edict that no more than three people can gather inside the capitol for a demonstration without a permit, about 1,000 people joined the Solidarity Sing-along at noon on Monday.

The sing-along, which has been occurring, Monday through Friday, for the past ten months, had its largest crowd since the earliest days of anti-Walker protests.

Signs dangled from the balconies (a practice also prohibited by Walker’s edict). One said: “This is a test of the Emergency Free Speech system.”

Madison Protest

Cindy Johnson held a sign that said: “We don’t need a permit to speak in our own house.” She’s in her late forties and lives in Mt. Horeb, a nearby town. “I’m here about half the time,” she says. “I’m just saying no, no, no” to all of Walker’s policies. “There are more of us than them,” she adds, “and we’ve got the power.”

Gracie Gardner, 20, a student at Lawrence University in Appleton, two hours away, also came to Madison for the protest. “I’m studying singing, and I heard they needed reinforcements,” she said. “This is our right.” She held a sign that said, in the face of tyrants, “How Can I Keep From Singing?”

The Solidarity Singers sang from their “Holiday Songbook,” with lyrics revised to fit the protests.

Madison Protest

For instance, the crowd sang a rousing version of “Recall Now” to the tune of “Jingle Bells,” with the chorus:

“Oh, Recall Now, Recall Now,

Send him on his way,

Oh, how loud will be those yells,

When Scotty’s gone away.”

Or, another crowd favorite, “Make Him Go,” sung to the tune of “Let It Snow,” with the first stanza:

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful

to recall would be delightful,

As our numbers continue to grow,

Make him go, make him go, make him go!”

Or, “Cast Your Vote,” sung to the tune of “Silver Bells,” with this chorus:

“Cast your vote!

Precious vote!

It’s recall time in Wisconsin.

Sing aloud!

Standing proud!

Soon it will be recall day.”

In between songs, you could hear shouts of “Recall Walker” echoing through the capitol.

As is customary, the sing-along ended with a powerful rendition of “Solidarity Forever.”

There were only a handful of police officers present.

“We’re just going to be monitoring the protests,” said Mitch Steingraeber, 51, a Wisconsin capitol police officer. “We have no enforcement strategy.”

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Free Speech Victory in Madison!"

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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