Hate out of Chicago!

From the new issue of NEWS & LETTERS, May-June 2011:

Hate out of Chicago!

Chicago–Twice in April, Chicagoans took to the streets to protest the presence of hate and ignorance in the Windy City.

On April 2, the Chicago-based, Catholic anti-choice group, Pro-Life Action League (PLAL), hosted a tribute dinner for Joe Scheidler at the Merchandise Mart Holiday Inn. Scheidler is a well-known bigot who is not just anti-choice, but also anti-woman and anti-gay. PLAL’s website states their anti-choice views, including opposing contraception, as well as opposing abortion for people who have become pregnant through rape.

They value fetal tissue above all else–even the pregnant person’s life. Their main form of “outreach” is to go to clinics that provide abortion and harass people trying to go inside. On their website, they proudly declare that they are responsible for shutting down eight Chicagoland abortion clinics. Ironically, PLAL does not condemn the death penalty or war.

Outraged that such a hateful organization would be honoring work that killed and harmed Chicago-area women, pro-choice activists flocked to the Holiday Inn to protest. Armed with signs with slogans such as, “Congratulations on 30 years of terrorizing women” and “Dr. Tiller saved lives; ‘Pro-lifers’ killed him,” we stood together in the face of religious zealots who hurled insults and lies. Undeterred by anti-choicers shoving cameras in our faces and screaming ridiculous accusations, we chanted “Pro-life, your name’s a lie, you don’t care if women die,” and “We won’t forget Dr. Tiller. Anti-choice, you’re f—ing killers.”

anti Beck protest, 2011

Then, on April 14, a smaller but spirited group of protesters assembled in front of the Chicago Theatre, to protest Fox News host Glenn Beck’s stage show. Beck, known for his hate speech and violent rhetoric, is touring the country in “Glenn Beck Live,” his “comedy” show that allegedly features “stories and stand-up.”

Infuriated that this right-wing extremist was spewing hate and vitriol in Chicago, we once again respectfully but firmly occupied an area near the Chicago Theatre to express our indignation.

Signs said, “I resist fear mongering and stand for social justice,” and “Your mission and words are poison and un-American.” Taking a jab at Senator John Kyl who tried to avoid responsibility for spreading incorrect information about Planned Parenthood, one clever protester’s sign said, “Glenn Beck is awesome* *Not a factual statement.” We chanted, “Sexist, racist, anti-gay, Glenn Beck, go away” and passed out information about Beck’s disturbing rhetoric. We talked with passersby who had questions about Beck and the protest.

This past month Chicago activists sent an important message: hate can come to Chicago, but we will not let it stay, and we will not quietly accept its poisonous presence. It is not just important, but absolutely vital, now more than ever, for activists to make our voices heard against the tyranny of those who would oppress us and the vulnerable among us.

–Cate S.

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