Southern Style: Cease Firing, Peace is Proclaimed

October 28, 2010 Updated: October 29, 2010

ATLANTA—On a perfect October morning at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, vendors were arranging their drums, paintings, soaps, scarves, dresses, and necklaces for the World Music and Food International Festival.

“Are you calling me a liar?” said a furious female voice. A baritone answered her, just as angrily.

He was a 250-pounder dressed in white down to his patent leather shoes. She was small. Their dispute had a hint of Rottweiler versus Chihuahua. He was a park official and was asking her, a vendor, for a larger fee than she expected.

The other vendors paused. Would it become violent? Both voices rose to screams. He whirled and flung both arms at her head. He told the evil spirits within her to depart. A moment like that is how you know you are in the Deep South.

She left with a disgusted gesture, spirits presumably intact.

On my way out of the park, I saw a Peace Monument, in which the winged Goddess of Peace tells a Civil War soldier with a rifle, "Cease firing—peace is proclaimed." It was dedicated 99 years ago, and I had never paid attention to it.

We need to listen to that goddess.

She’s not just the voice of hope. She’s the voice of not being tricked.

The vendor could have challenged the official without losing her dignity, just as politicians could challenge each other without losing theirs.

Days before the midterm elections, hostility is rampant. Georgia’s gubernatorial candidates are calling each other liars, bankrupts, and protectors of rapists.

Venom flows abundantly in Nevada. Sen. Harry Reid’s description of a Nevada represented by Sharron Angle featured starving elders, empty swing sets, full coffins and no jobs.

He was responding to Angle's ad, "He's not on Your Side," the most shameless piece of race baiting since the Willie Horton ad of the 1980s, and many are making the comparison.

The thing is, “they” want us angry, but it is pure manipulation.

It’s not just the political parties, either. It’s the robber barons, the ones Citizens United welcomes back to rule the country. They want peasants with pitchforks. As I researched a story on political ads, I was appalled to see how many generic-sounding entities exist to elect this or that demagogue.

When the Supreme Court made the Citizens United decision, which allows unlimited, anonymous funding of political action committees, they pulled the rug from under lady democracy’s feet.

She has slipped, but she has not fallen yet.

We can block her fall. We can do it by keeping our reason. We have an obligation as citizens to put aside whatever we may feel, and learn the truth about our civic life.

I mentally bless those hardworking journalists at PolitiFact, who make the effort to evaluate the truth of politician’s claims. I bless the old school League of Women Voters, who let you fill out a sample ballot ahead of time so you are not blindsided by a mystery referendum.

I want the Supreme Court to revisit Citizens United. It was a bad decision. And in case you're wondering, I’m not mad about any of this—just concerned.

Mary Silver can be reached at

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.