I was on a ‘date’ with my 12 year old. With 4 kids, you simply have to designate certain times as belonging to individual children, so in the interest of such we had dispatched the rest of the family and we were going to the movies. We were on our way to see Godzilla, (which may be the best money I’ve spent all month) and , we had just enough time to grab a burger at Hardees and wolf it down.
Now I watch people, out of training and habit and skills of a misspent youth. It has been drilled into my skull all my life that situational awareness will save your life. My wife often remarks that my observational skills are almost unsettling, although it's completely offset by my pathetic memory. I look at everybody's face. I look at everybody's hands. I read everybody's T-shirt. I look where they are looking, and constantly read body language. I even catch myself counting people and mentally noting who is left-handed. So when a group of young black men came into the restaurant, I noticed them. They were in their 20’s and most of them had long thick dreadlocks and black jackets on. On the back of the jackets was a white polygon with a red star in the center and the black silhouette of an AK-47. The name written above the logo was ‘The People’s Vanguard’. I am aware that in some parts of the country this wouldn't warrant a second glance but in south Georgia in May they stood out like sore thumbs. On the front of their jackets were various pins and buttons praising Malcolm X and declaring their love and allegiance for Africa.
It was almost movie time, but I just had to know. I walked over and I said “Gentlemen, I have to ask; what exactly is the People’s Vanguard?” One of them rose immediately to the occasion telling me that the People’s Vanguard was a revolutionary army determined to implement socialism in America and seize the reins of power from the bourgeoisie and return the means of production to the proletariat. You and I both know that when a 20 something year old starts speaking Lenin-ese, somebody has been feeding him nonsense.
“So your Commies?”
Another member of the group, the one without a jacket or dreadlocks hastened to explain that they weren’t communists,; they were socialists. I said “Well your clothes are covered in Soviet symbology and you just used Marxist terminology.”
“We believe in power to the people.”
“But everybody that says that really means ‘power to me and a couple of my friends’.”
The conversation was going nowhere and Godzilla was about to start so I told them that as much as I would love to sit and talk to them, I had to keep an important appointment, but I was certain I would see them around town. They invited me to a rally, but I neglected to get the date.
We got in my car to drive the 2 blocks or so to the theater and my son was tolerating my explanations about the horrific history of their ideas (12 year olds have a hard time focusing on the history of class struggles I've noticed) when he asked “If they hate capitalism so much, why are they eating at Hardees?”