What is Washboard Express?

Washboard Express is a way for me to express my own opinions, to be a provocative gadfly, by writing a "letter a day" to the President. I may miss a day here and there, because sometimes my family with be my first priority, but my goal is to write a total of 365 letters, representing one full year. To say I have opinions about most things would be to understate the obvious. Those of you that know me, know this is true, those who don't know me, will learn that it's true. The Washboard is a reference to going back to basics and "keeping it clean," so if you would like me to post your comments or opinions on this blog, I only ask that you be respectful. So go ahead, express yourself, and I look forward to an exchange of ideas and opinions.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Letter #130... Dear Mr. President... When Did Our Children Become Security Risks?

Dear Mr. President:

What has happened to our country? When did ‘we the people’ become the enemy? When did parents pushing strollers, and carrying small children become a threat to our government? And how is it that we’ve come to fear children to such a degree that we need to keep them behind fence barriers?

I guess the answers to those questions are… when they come to the California Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. I was always under the impression, and correct me if I’m wrong, that ‘we the people’ collectively own our public places and public buildings. Apparently unless you obtained a red wristband and were part of some elite group, were you actually ‘allowed’ to get close to the annual tree lighting event at the Sacramento State Capitol.

Last night as part of my birthday celebration, my husband and I attended the so-called ‘public’ tree lighting ceremony. However, when we approached we noticed that metal barricades had been set up surrounding the event. The barricades extended from each side of the west entrance building to the sidewalk and around. Inside the fenced area were approximately 200 chairs set up in front of tree and a stage. I’m still not sure who most this select group was but it was my guess that these were capitol staffers and their families. There were tables set up with coffee, hot chocolate and cookies for the ‘insiders’ and several Santa’s passing out programs and candy canes to the lucky children inside.

Canned food stack blocking view
Those of us outside had nothing, nada, zip, zilch. The three little girls clinging to the fence just in front of us were quietly waiting for something to happen… all the while watching various kids from the inside come over to the fence and throw their empty cups in the garbage placed next to the barricade. To the right of us was a huge stack of canned goods on pallets intended for the homeless or food for families that was donated by local grocers. That’s wonderful, but for those of us on the outside, it only served to further block an already limited view.

And then there was the ‘security’ of this very dangerous event… men on the roof of the capitol, men in black trench coats with the earphone thingy in one ear, state troupers in uniform, city police, and last but not least… the three horsemen of the apocalypse on huge Clydesdales standing by in case… in case of I don’t know what.
Secret Service Trench Coat Guy
The Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse
 I can certainly understand setting up a tent or staging area for the politicians and dignitaries… I can even understand ‘roping’ off some of the seats for the families of those performing and other ‘important’ people, but about a third of the seats weren’t even used. And once the important people were seated, why couldn’t the rest of us be allowed in… to get just a little closer to tree and the performers?

What were they afraid was going to happen? Did they think we were going to mug the Santa’s and steal their candy canes… were we going to rush the Christmas tree and steal the ornaments? These were families, and ordinary citizens that came to see a tree lighting… have we become so cynical and frightened of each other that we need to leave children clinging to barricades just to listen to carolers and watch a tree be lit?

What did these kids learn from this experience? The ones on the inside learned that they were somehow better and more privileged then those on the outside. That 1% mentality we see being played out across the country, is that what they felt? And what about the kids on the outside, how did they feel watching Santa pass out candy canes to the ‘good kids’ on the inside? Were they feeling like the 99% of us that feel left out of the ‘perks’ afforded the 1%?

 Hooded child on fence looking in.
I have to tell you Mr. President, I was ashamed of Governor Brown, Mayor Johnson, and everyone else associated with this event. Ashamed at how we as a society would allow this to happen and then tolerate it. How dare they fence families off from a public event? How dare they treat some children like second-class citizens denying them the same experience as the ‘inside’ children? How dare they treat taxpaying parents like common criminals without the slightest provocation? Don’t our taxes support those buildings, those grounds, that Christmas tree, and the staff that erected it? Yes, the tree itself was donated, but not the labor to erect it, decorate it, protect it, and the electricity to light it night after night… those are public funds and the public was denied equal access to this public event… shameful! Disgusting! Appalling! And don’t even get me started on how “unchristian” like this spectacle was.

What has this country come too, that we treat people this way? Don’t tell me it’s because our society is any more dangerous then it’s ever been, because I don’t buy it. Could it be that those 1%ers, those inside the fencers, know that they have done nothing to deserve that kind of special treatment, and the rest of us have done nothing to deserve being treated as an outside the fencer? Are they afraid we just might get a tad bit angry over such unequal treatment?

If I had been a parent of those ‘outside children’ I would have taken them home the minute I saw the barriers and realized that my children weren’t special enough to be inside. I would have never subjected them to the humiliation of being treated as second class… unworthy of a candy cane from Santa, or a cup of hot chocolate on a very cold night, kind of children And treated like the garbage cans put in front of them for the inside children to discard their cups and candy cane wrappers kind of kids.

Am I mad? You bet I am… I’m mad at, and for every one of us that have allowed our country to fall to this level of degradation and segregation… and you should be mad too. You should be mad as hell, that as President of this once great country, that we, as a society, have sunk this low… that we are now afraid of children.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny


  1. This is where we've gotten to. And we have allowed it to happen by being complacent. Sad, isn't it? I'd like to see this reprinted in the Bee.

  2. Sad and unacceptable... I did send a shorter version to the Bee because they only allow a certain word count for Op Eds that amount to half of the original letter. Of course after printing the lovely photo on the front page of this inglorious event, they weren't about to print a letter slamming it. Also sad.