Friday, October 16
A Photo Essay By Ron James
The following is the calendar item from the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) of Topeka, Kansas website, http://www.godhatesfags.com/ .
By Ron James
There she was, a beautiful, almost angelic blue-eyed, blond-haired little girl from Topeka, Kansas. She stood fearlessly with just a hint of a smile on her face, seeming to both enjoy and ignore the controlled chaos that played out before her. The real tragedy of the scene was that this little girl wore an anti-Semitic T-shirt and held a sign saying “God Hates The USA.” She is also part of the self-proclaimed “most hated family in America.”
The little girl, along with five other family members — including her two young brothers — are members of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church. They traveled to San Diego to condemn homosexuals, Jews and the President of the United States, and anyone who supports them. The family was led by Shirley Phelps-Rogers, 51, the eldest daughter of Fred Phelps, the founder of the church. If there is anyone who is the face of this bizarre church movement, it is this woman.
The Westboro group of three adults and three children stood with their racist signs on the corner opposite City College and San Diego High School. They were almost completely shielded by motorcycle cops from the San Diego Police Department. On the other three corners were hundreds of San Diego anti-hate counter-demonstrators of all ages, and gay rights and church activists from the Uptown communities.
Although the counter-demonstration crowds were spirited, they were also civil in their support of gay students and Jews. The police were also courteous and professional, allowing all parties to vent and express their views without incident.
We at San Diego Uptown News are very proud of our citizens’ spirited response to this handful of hatemongers from Kansas. Our people showed emphatically that there is no acceptance for this kind of thinking in our town. But they showed it in a manner that respected the Westboro church’s right to free speech — even speech that was ugly and repulsive. And we think it was a lesson in civic responsibility to the hundreds of San Diego High School students who witnessed it. We hope they remember it.
As much as we at Uptown News condemn the Westboro group, we can’t help but worry about what the future holds for that little girl from Kansas.