Last Friday I went to a very nice event at the Northampton Senior Center which was a fundraiser for the Franklin/Hampshire Health Care Coalition. Charlie King and Karen Brandow were performing, and I always enjoy hearing them, but the real reason I went is that Single Payer Health Care activist George Markham was being honored for his life-long commitment to the movement. George and his wife Arky are in their 90's now, and they are two people I admire very much. I'd love to think I can keep going for that long!
Charlie and Karen performed for a bit and then Diana Stein from the Amherst League of Women Voters took the microphone and began speaking about George in preparation for giving him a a citation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
At that very moment, two people came in with flyers and, starting from the rear rows, began handing out the flyers for people to pass down the line. It was incredibly distracting and I said to the person at the end of my line, "Grab that guy! Tell him to hold on!" But somebody else got to them first and made them sit down until the presentation was over.
I was thinking one of the guys looked familiar, and then it hit me: Tim Carpenter, Director of Progressive Democrats of America! Arise had a horrendous experience with PDA several years ago when we were supposedly "co-sponsors" of an anti-war event that they totally hijacked. Their organizer at the time, whose name mercifully escapes me now, had botched communication with the local groups involved, and we'd actually met with Tim to try to get through to the bottom of it. Then came the event, which was pretty much as self-promoting as you might think. At the end, we gladly put the whole PDA experience out of our minds.
And now they were back, acting with total obliviousness, interfering with what should have been entirely George's moment.
I went to the PDA website later that night. They look professional and progressive. But I have to wonder: how many other groups have had to be subjected to their insensitivity?