The group Two Million Bikers to DC organized its second annual rally on the National Mall yesterday, which, like its predecessor, fell far short of the goal expressed in the group’s name. Organizers said the event was meant to honor people killed in the 9/11 attacks as well as first responders and veterans – presumably that’s how they sold it to corporate sponsor Budweiser – but rally speakers also used the event to rail against President Barack Obama, Congress, and an array of right-wing targets, including gun control, Common Core educational standards, the EPA, regulation of small businesses, the destruction of free enterprise, the Bundy Ranch standoff between the BLM and armed protestors, and Obama’s purportedly fraudulent re-election.
Although organizers got pre-event press promising “thousands” of bikers – not 2 million – descending on the nation’s capital, I didn’t see more than a couple hundred at the event’s peak. Fewer than 50 were left to hear the final speakers. More than one speaker took note of the dispiritingly small crowd.
Those who made it to the Mall did get to hear some personal remembrances of 9-11 from a New York firefighter, a paramedic, and a clergyman who worked at Ground Zero, and a mother whose son joined the military in the wake of 9/11 and was killed overseas.
But uniting them and other speakers was hostility toward the Obama administration and anger at the perception that the president will not clearly identify Islamist extremism as the nation’s enemy. Among the conspiracy theories heard from the podium were the claim from Second Amendment activist and self-described “gun chick” Jan Morgan that the U.N. small arms treaty was about disarming Americans, and the assertion by “Pope” Dan Johnson that “NATO came together in a meeting and this administration signed that NATO pact to tell Christians or to tell any religion what they can and cannot do.” Morgan said she didn’t believe Obama had actually won re-election because she knows about votes counted in Barcelona, Spain, and dead people who voted six times.
Johnson, a Kentucky coordinator for the biker group, contrasted his remarks with Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “I have a nightmare,” he yelled. America, he said, is living a nightmare at Ground Zero and a nightmare in the White House. The mother of a fallen serviceman said of President Obama, “We must get rid of him…we must get him out of our White House before he takes this nation down.”
Right-wing pundit Wayne Dupree railed against the media, which he said has given Obama a pass for six years. He complained that conservative activists have been demonized as racists. “This administration is racist,” he said. “Everybody in there is racist.”
“Entertainment” was provided by Madison Rising, a metal band that played songs they describe as patriotic. One in their first set contained the chorus, “We don't want to have to bring out guns but we're ready if it goes there.” That sort of rhetoric mirrors the theme of Larry Klayman’s failed revolutionary rally in D.C. last year, at which Two Million Bikers organizer Belinda Bee spoke. Manny Vega, a Marine vet and self-described “Three Percenter” also spoke at both rallies.
Vega, who as one of the final speakers faced a very sparse crowd, seemed bummed out by the small turnout. “There should be millions of people,” he said, recalling photos of Vietnam War protests filling the entire mall. “What are we doing? A couple patriots out here.” Vega said more truck drivers, waitresses, bikers, and mechanics need to get involved and get elected.
“I’ll be damned if I am 30 years old and I’m cursing the politicians in that Capitol Hill. My son’s going to be 30 years old gearing up, buying weapons, buying their armored vests. Who’d have thought that we’d live in a country where the American citizens are arming up to fight a tyrannical government, ‘cuz that is what it is. Who’d have thought? How many people here have aligned themselves with militias or are already prepping to go to war with the federal government? [Someone shouted ‘don’t raise your hands,’ but some folks did] To go to war? Who should go to war? No American citizen should go to war. I’ll tell you something, it’s changed. The relationship between the people and those bastards over there that are supposedly supposed to represent us. And they are not doing it.”
The event was also sponsored by Dinesh D’Souza’s “America: Imagine the World Without Her.” The day before the rally, D’Souza tweeted, “On 9/11 anniversary tomorrow I am speaking at huge biker rally on the national mall in Washington DC.” He sold some books -- nothing close to the huge number that his optimistic publisher had brought– and took pictures with fans. Unfortunately, I missed D’Souza’s comments when I took a break, but based on the speaker who followed him, part of D’Souza’s speech was spent slamming President Obama’s recent remarks about ISIS/ISIL.