I just got back from Washington D.C., where it was my privilege to attend the inaugural event — a side-event at CPAC — of the Freedom Defense Initiative. Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer did a superb job organizing the venue and the speakers. I’ll have more to say about the event later on.
I went up there to the Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy because one of our own, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, was a speaker at the FDI event, and also appeared on Capitol Hill later on. As regular readers know, a “hate speech” charge is pending against Elisabeth for her outspoken anti-jihad activism in Austria. Elisabeth made the journey to Washington to speak about her case and relate it to all the other ominous incidents involving the suppression of free speech on both sides of the Atlantic.
I’ll be writing more about the FDI event later, but tonight I have to spend my time catching up on the email (hi everybody!) and putting together a news feed.
Before I return to the hard slog, I’ll relate a brief but disturbing incident that happened while I was in downtown D.C. yesterday.
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Normally when I refer to being in the “Frozen North”, I mean Canada (usually Toronto). But yesterday Our Nation’s Capital was as snowy as any place I’ve ever seen before. There were immense piles of dense and impacted dirty snow all over the city, blocking sidewalks and parking areas and making pedestrian travel a hazardous business.
Elisabeth and I were crossing the street at 18th and I Streets NW, and came upon a man lying face-down in the crunchy slush that covered the curb. There was a small crowd gathered around him, and one man was tentatively offering the old guy a hand up.
The poor fellow was having none of it, though. He muttered something to the effect that he was all right, even as his face was literally pressed into the snow. So I went around to the other side of him, put my hands around his arm, and said, “Come on, you have to get up.”
But he was a dead weight, like lifting a 180-lb. sack of potatoes. Even with the other guy helping me pull at him, we could only get him partway up. His knees were like loose rubber. With my face down close to him, the smell of liquor was overpowering.
A third man came over to help, and I said “1 — 2 — 3 — heave!” and we pulled the wino to his feet. I asked him if he could walk, but it was obvious that he couldn’t. He told us he was all right, and said we should just let him sit back down in the slush. But I said “No, you have to go somewhere warmer and drier than this.”
So one of the other guys helped me walk him across the sidewalk to a dry section next to a store entrance. There was a potted shrub there near the door, and we sat him down on the pot and leaned him backwards until his back rested against the foliage. When it seemed he was stable in that position, we let go of him, and everyone went about their business.
Elisabeth and I went into a store nearby, and when we came out a few minutes later, I looked back across the street, and the old wino was still sitting there where we left him.
I thought about him again later that night, when it got a lot colder and the wind was blowing. Where had he gone for the night? How the heck do the D.C. winos make it through a winter like this one?
There’s no moral to this story, no punch line, no satisfying denouement. It’s just something that happened, a brief incident on a February afternoon in Washington. Things like that probably happen all the time at 18th and I.
When I was young, I attended graduate classes at George Washington University. I remember the winos back then used to lie on the gratings over the heat tunnels at the edge of GWU near the E Street Expressway. One particularly cold night I went over and offered a dollar to one of the guys who was lying there. But he looked frightened, and he wouldn’t take it.
Why does all the interesting news break while I’m away? The Fort Jackson poisonings and the fall of the Dutch cabinet — and I missed ’em! It’s a good thing that Dymphna and H. Numan and VH and Vlad know how to conduct business in my absence…
I’ll get some sort of news feed up before the cock doth craw and the day doth daw and the channerin’ worm doth chide. Email may take a while longer, so bear with me.