General Grant and the Tea Party: “There Are Always More of Them Before They Are Counted”

 Ta-Nehisi Coats is a blogger that I find very interesting and for whom I have alot of respect. Most bloggers – and more to the point, most people – seem to have solidified their positions by the time they were – oh! say, about – twelve and they spend the rest of lives justifying that position; Coates is not one of those bloggers. I would describe him as a New York intellectual who has a point of view, an outlook but is more interested in moving forward than holding onto the past. He describes himself, in a language and poetry I only aspire to,
Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore, not quite The Wire<, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.

His interest in the black story and his blackness as part of the fabric of the American experience has led him to the Civil War. And that led him to Grant and to Grant’s memoir. I am thrilled.

And so, apparently, is Coats. Coates says about Grant:

He is skeptical of braggadocio, modest about his own achievements, and believes that courage is more talked about than actually displayed. He’ll tell these winding anecdotes that end with a rather awesome lesson. My favorite of them so far…

After the second night at Goliad, Benjamin and I started to make the remainder of the journey alone. We reached Corpus Christi just in time to avoid “absence without leave.” We met no one not even an Indian–during the remainder of our journey, except at San Patricio. A new settlement had been started there in our absence of three weeks, induced possibly by the fact that there were houses already built, while the proximity of troops gave protection against the Indians. On the evening of the first day out from Goliad, we heard the most unearthly howling of wolves, directly in our front. The prairie grass was tall and we could not see the beasts, but the sound indicated that they were near. To my ear it appeared that there must have been enough of them to devour our party, horses and all, at a single meal. The part of Ohio that I hailed from was not thickly settled, but wolves had been driven out long before I left. Benjamin was from Indiana, still less populated, where the wolf yet roamed over the prairies. He understood the nature of the animal and the capacity of a few to make believe there was an unlimited number of them. He kept on towards the noise, unmoved. I followed in his trail, lacking moral courage to turn back and join our sick companion. I have no doubt that if Benjamin had proposed returning to Goliad, I would not only have “seconded the motion” but have suggested that it was very hard-hearted in us to leave Augur sick there in the first place; but Benjamin did not propose turning back. When he did speak it was to ask: “Grant, how many wolves do you think there are in that pack?” Knowing where he was from,and suspecting that he thought I would over-estimate the number, I determined to show my acquaintance with the animal by putting the estimate below what possibly could be correct, and answered: “Oh, about twenty,” very indifferently.
and rode on.

In a minute we were close upon them, and before they saw us. There were just TWO of them. Seated upon their haunches, with their mouths close together, they had made all the noise we had been hearing for the past ten minutes. I have often thought of this incident since when I have heard the noise of a few disappointed politicians who had deserted their associates. There are always more of them before they are counted.

What a great description of the tea party protesters. There are always more of them before they are counted.The press, the media to be au courant – which I really, reaaaaly what to be – likes the tea party because they are photogenic and dynamic. In reality, in actual counting, there are a lot less tea partiers in real life than on TV. Just like there are less people who believe in Noah, and there are alot more people in life – who think that Obama was born in the good ol’ USA – than on TV.

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