Tracey framed as a ‘bad guy’

Since many articles about Mike Tracey start off with the description “Vice President of the College Democrats” and “political science major,” a lot of people believe he was just going to the Ann Coulter lecture to stir up trouble. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

Tracey’s political background comes into play when you bear in mind that he is a political junkie. He loves going to political rallies and lectures. I even went with him once to a rally for Vice President Joe Biden. At the end of this kind of rally, the speaker walks around the crowd, talks to people, gives autographs and shakes hands. The person is almost always surrounded by multiple guards.

In the case of Joe Biden, he was surrounded by four members of the Secret Service. These were professionals who were primarily trying to maintain a certain amount of order among the disorderly crowd. Needless to say, you had to act aggressively around the guards in order to shake hands, ask questions and get autographs. In fact, the picture I took of Mike Tracey and Vice President Joe Biden is blurred out because at the time I took the photo, I was getting shoved by a member of the Secret Service. That was simply the nature of that part of the lecture. From Tracey’s standpoint – a veteran of many political rallies – it wasn’t really that out of line to act with a certain amount of tenacity around Coulter’s guards.

Another thing you should bear in mind is that Tracey decided not to participate in the walk-out during Coulter’s speech. Although he wasn’t 100 percent sure that Coulter believed everything she said, he saw Coulter as a real political commentator. Although her views were different from his own, he felt like there was something to be learned from listening to alternate opinions. This is exemplified by the fact that he enjoys listening to right wing talk radio and has gone to McCain-Palin rallies in the past in order to broaden his point of view.

When the guards apprehended Mike, he was seriously confused, screaming “Are you serious?” He didn’t think that he did anything wrong. The guards thought they caught a bad guy. Instead of working to defuse the situation, they made things worse. When Mike got back home and wrote on his blog, he was not looking to cause trouble. He was scared, confused and worried about what would happen next. More than anything, he was looking for advice and was not expecting the overwhelming response that emerged. The groups supporting Tracey were formed by people who were moved by what happened to him at the lecture, and were not started by Tracey himself. People who see Tracey as some sort of radical are sadly mistaken.

Charles Rosenberg