There could not have been a bigger contrast between the two Sing Alongs at the Capitol in Madison on Monday.

Inside, there was a morose assembly of about 36 Tea Party zealots, gathered in the rotunda, pistols down their pants, with the sole purpose of "stickin' it to the Madison libruls." The place was teeming with police, and the tension was high. The vein in Sgt. Weiss's temple was pulsating, which can only mean he was ready to blow.

The Tea Partiers had their own version of "This Land Is My Land, This Land Is Your Land," which they not so cleverly entitled "This land is my land, it is not your land." The last verse went like this:

This land is my land, it is not your land

I got a shot gun, and you ain't got none

If you don't get out, I'll let my dogs out

This land is private proper-tee.

The cops fully expected a counter-protest, even after two-and-a-half years of "getting to know you." Somehow they still haven't figured out that the people who come and sing folk songs in the Capitol are as non-violent as you can get. The Tea Party "patriots" were there to prove a point -- to show how easy it is to get a permit to exercise your First Amendment rights.

Outside, there was a joyous crowd of at least two hundred. One participant described it as a carnival. Trombones, fiddles, guitars and drums, surrounded by the happiest group of despondent, beaten down people you have ever seen. That may not make sense, but for those who are living it, it does. Nobody should ever be required to "apply" for the right to speak out against the government. At least some people in Wisconsin believe that, and they will fight (with their voices) till the bitter end.


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A huge win, it's also just a hit on the pause button. Here's some context and ideas about paths forward.

The reach of this story extends from the lowliest working stiff to the highest court in the land.

White supremacist posters on campuses play on ignorance and fear within the very institutions that should be our...

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).

Public School Shakedown

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