During our peaceful campaign in Conway one man drove past and yelled, “Hail Satan!” TFP volunteer Cesar Franco replied, “Hail Mary, full of grace!” Later, a woman brought us a very welcome pack of water bottles, saying that it was because we were Catholics, even though she was not.
As the thermometer went to 105 degrees, we campaigned in downtown Mountain Home. The public, for the most part, was very supportive; the problem, as always, was the vocal minority that sought to disrupt our campaign. Besides the usual fingers and insults, one man tried to intimidate us into leaving the sidewalk. When TFP volunteer Elias Bartel pointed out that it was a public sidewalk and asked if he owned the sidewalk, the man left in a hurry.
Our goal is, as a local Catholic put it, to “speak for the silent majority.” The majority of the people we have met have been supportive; the problem is making them do something about it.
After an eight-hour drive we arrived in Dallas and got a few hours of sleep. Our host generously barbequed hamburgers – what a welcome treat. Like most TFP campaigns, we are running on a tight budget. In fact, we are trying to go the whole way entirely on donations. So the hospitality of all the people who have fed and lodged us along the way has been essential.
Our campaign in Dallas was a constant reminder of how our campaign is the “voice of the silent majority.”
Just outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport we received a tremendous amount of honks. Many cheered at seeing us; one lady gave us a donation on the spot. We also distributed several hundred flyers to drivers stopped at the intersection. The “voice of the silent majority” was also a reminder of the not so silent minority that often dominates the silent masses. One man, seeing the support we were generating, yelled “Stop honking!” But the true America must not be reduced to silence. And the honks continued.
Our journey continued to Austin, the capital of Texas. After lunch, we campaigned on Congress Avenue near the Texas legislature.
Almost as soon as we arrived, TFP volunteer Cesar Franco was involved in a debate with a woman about the immorality of abortion. The woman used the argument that the unborn baby was like a criminal trespassing on a person’s property, and could therefore be stopped with lethal force: abortion.
Cesar responded by pointing out that the baby, unlike the trespasser, had not committed any crime.
Soon after she left, a man on the street corner opposite our campaign began intermittent, indecipherable yelling that continued for about an hour. As we started a rosary, this intermittent sideshow was joined by a man on a motorcycle who stopped and began yelling insults at three TFP volunteers. “Get the silver spoon out of your mouths!” he yelled before roaring off on his brand-new motorcycle.
After Mass at the Cathedral of Austin, we returned to Congress Avenue for an evening rush-hour campaign. There we were joined by Mr. Williams, a crippled Knight of Columbus from the cathedral.
Our locale today was San Antonio. The Alamo, in fact, was the spot of our morning campaign. There is a little square in front of the old mission church with the famous façade, and then shops across a street. The campaign was by far the one with the most foot traffic to date, and this was reflected by the almost one thousand flyers that we distributed.
The public was for the most part very supportive. Many came up to thank us or say “we’re with you guys.” Many of the employees from the shops near our campaign came out to ask what we were doing and agreed with us. Two young men visiting from California were extremely enthusiastic and joined our campaign for a few minutes. Interestingly enough, they mentioned how the media and Hollywood play a role in influencing public opinion and they were strongly opposed to that bad influence.
The debates we did get into, though, were far more protracted than the quick verbal barbs that we had been getting from passing cars. One man debated with TFP volunteers Alvaro Zapata and Cesar Franco for about half an hour on the merits of socialism. Seeking to find a “good socialism,” he brought up fire departments, the police, and libraries as examples of “socialism.”
A more virulent opponent said that Catholics deserved to be persecuted because of the Crusades. When asked what that had to do with the issue, he walked off. One burly man walked out of a bar and asked, in a very aggressive tone, why we were getting involved in both religion and politics. As we explained to him how Obamacare imposes a religious persecution, another burly man, presumably his drinking buddy, came up and told him to back off. The second man then gave us a donation and walked off with the first, jawing at each other.
Probably the most noticeable thing was the lack of awareness on the part of many people. For example, one Catholic lady had never heard of what Obamacare does and was absolutely shocked to find out. Worse is the lethargy of many, especially in our second campaign off I-410 near San Antonio. There was almost no opposition, but few would care enough to even look, honk or wave. To inform the public, to wake them from their sleep, that is our goal. And it’s working, one campaign at a time.
Today we returned to the Alamo. Still, there were many positive reactions. “Obamacare pushes things way too far,” was a common reaction.
That afternoon, we took a quick break to visit San Fernando Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in the United States, and there sang the Salve Regina. A visit to one of the missions in San Antonio was on the agenda, but time prevented it. We have to reach Corpus Christi.
July 25 marks the last day of this Saint Michael Caravan. Our first campaign in Corpus Christi was just off Texas Highway 286 with a great deal of support from traffic. A reporter from KIIITV, a local TV station, interviewed our caravan leader Cesar Franco.
Our honk signs, having been thoroughly frayed by one and a half weeks of constant use and wind, saw one last day of peaceful service for the Catholic cause.
As we were winding things down, a counter-protester arrived with a sign saying “Honk if you think these guys ****.” The fact that nobody honked for him only confirmed what we thought: the silent majority likes moral values, not vulgar signs.
All in all, though, the response our caravan encountered was largely positive. In Little Rock, Conway, Mountain Home, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi, we distributed our message and raised public awareness to the socialist menace of Obamacare. We distributed thousands of copies of our message Confronting Religious Persecution in America: Neither Apostasy or Dhimmitude, and reached many more through our signs and personal contact.
The opposition we encountered, meanwhile, served to unmask the socialist evil, as the response to the video of the attack showed. Our simply being out there standing for what was right also made a huge impact. Many came up to thank us for doing what was right, even though they themselves did not have the courage to do so.
For example, a lady from Houston, after seeing us standing up for Catholicism, said: “You restored my faith”.
Saint Michael, pray for us!