Yesterday I sat online with close to 700 others watching a live feed from Woodbury, Connecticut, that a member of Anonymous was streaming from a visitation for slain Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung. The Westboro Baptist Church had stated that they vowed to picket the funeral with their signs reading typical slogans for the group, “God Sent The Shooter,” “God Hates You,” ” You Will Eat Your Babies.”
As reported yesterday, Anonymous said they would meet the pickets and form a silent barricade shielding the WBC from the mourners view, so that they could honor the dead in peace. Anonymous was joined by others, off-duty policemen, local and from out of state, retired and current military, members of the community who wanted to protect the grievers, others who had driven long distances just to take part. Those of us who couldn’t be there waited, anxious, for the WBC to show up. From everything I know, they didn’t. From everything I know, they have more plans to picket the area in the upcoming days.
I’m a mom with four kids. My kids are my life. It’s a simple statement, but it’s the only truth I know. After the mass shooting spree that left 26 dead, my heart has been aching. I can’t even begin to fathom what it must be like to be the parents of the slain children, to be a family member who lost someone due to what Adam Lanza did. The grief so many of us feel is palpable. We look at our own children, kids who play and yell and fight and kiss us with sticky mouths and we look away, because it hurts to look at them, knowing that in Connecticut there are parents who will never put their own children to bed at night.
We have all grown up with Columbine and 9-11 and Malmö and a thousand other tragedies the world over. Because it involved so many small children, the events of Sandy Hook affect a lot of us on a visceral level. We look for hope, for answers, for reassurance. In the last few days, I have found hope in a group of strangers, notorious for computer hacking and picketing Scientology centers, not as well known for feeding the hungry and combating child pornography, disguised with Guy Fawkes V For Vendetta Halloween masks.
Anonymous is not without criticism. There are people associated with Anonymous who would steal your credit card number and hack your computer without a second thought. There are people associated with Anonymous who use the word “fag” a bit much for my liking, even if they aren’t using it as a derogatory term against homosexuals. From Wikipedia:
A statement attributed to a member of Anonymous has described Anonymous as containing every belief and lifestyle, and that the views of “the loudest” of Anonymous aren’t necessarily the views of the rest of Anonymous.
But the thing about Anonymous, is that they are us. As likely as you are to find others associated with the group you may disagree with, you are just as likely to find those you do agree with. This hit me yesterday, and I asked on Twitter how many other moms out there love Anonymous, for their promise to protect the victims of Sandy Hook, for their work putting an end to child pornography websites, for other acts of vigilantism against things that go on in the world that we can all agree are wrong.
Within moments, I was inundated with many messages, all using my hashtag #Momsloveanonymous. And from fathers, too.
One of the credos of Anonymous is “Expect Us.”
How could we expect them? How could I expect that since writing about the Westboro Church and their plans to disrupt memorials I would receive so many messages from Anonymous, asking me if they could help, asking if I needed information, asking if I needed contacts to keep me informed? How could I expect the messages I received from an Anonymous, a father of five, who told me of his own sadness and grief over the children of Sandy Hook?
How could any of us expect CosmotheGod, the 15-year-old hacker, recently charged with computer hacking crimes, to in an instant take over one of the highest ranking members of the Westboro Church twitter feed and change the tweets posted of hate and bigotry into those of love and support for the victims? We don’t expect Anonymous. In a world where things like Sandy Hook happen we don’t expect a group to be so committed to bringing peace to a community who has suffered so greatly this last week.
How could we expect something like this, that due to pressure from Anonymous the internet security firm that hosts the WBC will donate the revenue they receive from the WBC to charity?
Another motto of Anonymous is “NYPA”, which stands for Not Your Personal Army. This basically means you can’t throw throw up the Anonymous bat-signal and expect them to harass a telemarketer who is calling you during the dinner hour. But if your house were to burn down and you threw up the bat-signal, I am almost positive you would wake to strangers in your yard in Fawke’s masks with warm blankets. Anonymous are everywhere. They are lawyers and doctors and garbage men and college students and executives and men and women and all of us.
In this world we need hope. In this world we need Batman and superheroes and to know that those are out there, good policemen and firemen and teachers and medical workers. We need to know that in our darkest times, when things like Hurricane Sandy happen, when Sandy Hook happens, when it seems there is no light or hope and that there is nothing good left in the world, that there is. It just goes without a face, and it goes with no membership fees, and it goes a lot of the time with no recognition. To me it feels like these days anyone with a heart and a strong desire to help those in need are Anonymous. You can’t join Anonymous. But all of us are Anonymous. Expect us.
(Photo: Twitter, YourAnonNews)