Last Friday, Gov. Scott Walker lit up the Capitol’s Christmas tree (I think calling it a “holiday tree,” as some have suggested, might be taking political correctness a little too far) at 8:15 a.m. Note that usually the lighting of the tree occurs around midday, but due to previous engagements that Walker had arranged in Milwaukee, this year it occurred a little earlier.
It’s not my prerogative to investigate the veracity of these claims, or whether Walker was just hoping to dodge the recall protesters. What I will comment on is the Recall Walker demonstrators who showed up early at the Capitol, and then proceeded to boo Walker while he conducted the ceremony.
Scott Walker may be a shitty governor, but he isn’t the Grinch. While the recall petitions certainly have their merits, I feel that booing at a Christmas ceremony is taking things a little too far.
The Wisconsin State Journal notes that the protesters did not attempt to disrupt or otherwise interrupt the ceremony itself, but still, it was definitely not a classy move by the protesters to boo Walker when he is in the middle of an age-old ceremony that has nothing to do with politics.
And then there’s Senator Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, suggesting that Walker’s decision to light the tree a few hours early has “screwed up one of the finest traditions in the state Capitol.” If you don’t understand why people are frustrated with the political leadership in this country, look no further. If you have resorted to attacking your opposition about a Christmas tree, you probably need to rethink your approach.
As it is, around 200 people attended the lighting of the tree, including a couple of dozen recall demonstrators. There were also several military veterans in attendance, given that this year the lighting of the tree was dedicated to veterans. This is another reason that the actions of the protesters struck me as tasteless: The veterans who were being honored would surely have been rankled by the open disrespect shown by the protesters.
Funnier still is Fox News’ reaction to the protesters. They posted on their blog a video of some spectators, most likely recall demonstrators, doing the Nazi salute as Walker spoke at the lighting of the tree.
The caption for the post on their website was “Libs Rock Nazi Salute During Christmas Tree Lighting.” Because, you know, all liberals are Nazis, right?
This is even worse than the recall protesters booing Walker at the Christmas tree ceremony. But that is, more or less, the shape of partisan politics in this country. Rather than criticism based on substantive policy and ideology, both liberals and conservatives criticize their counterparts along petty lines that have little relation to, well, anything.
The protest ended with the demonstrators hanging a huge “RECALL” poster over the second floor railing. Given that they didn’t have a permit for the display, it was promptly taken down by Capitol police officers, so it had little effect. I guess that just about sums up Wisconsin politics though – just a bunch of noise, no real result.
Shawn Rajanayagam ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in political science and American studies.