The Washington Post Magazine devoted another cover story to honoring a left-wing protester, this one titled “Life on the Passionate Fringe.” The cover touted he's "Willing to Be Hated." They mean that with love and respect: “D.C. protester Adam Eidinger is a relentless promoter of lefty protest.” This comes after the cover stories on Lafayette Park fruitcake Concepcion Picciotto and radical restaurateur Andy Shallal.
It's reminiscent of their love affair with Occupy Wall Street actions. Now try to imagine the WashPost spreading this kind of love for the “passionate fringe” is it was a profile on a Tea Party protester. Writer Ken Otterbourg insists we need lefties on the fringe, for they may be tomorrow’s mainstream:
In person, Eidinger is hard to hate. He is generous, enthusiastic and resourceful. He has a seditious sense of humor. He is also confident and stubborn. He has a lot of gears, but reverse is rarely one of them. He understands that everyone in Washington has a job to do. His is this: to poke the bear.
We are a nation built on the idea of righteous dissent. Yet most of us never exercise that right, particularly at the instance when the handcuffs are coming out. We seek the familiar safety of the middle, where disagreements are polite and compromise seems within reach. But we need Adam Eidinger and his passionate fringe, even if we don’t want to admit it. Protest, he says, is about creating the breathing room that allows moderates to work, even if the deals they strike are far from perfect. And here’s the other thing: Today’s fringe is quite often tomorrow’s mainstream, so we dismiss the tattered edge at our own peril.
For example, Posties think the next fringe issue to win is legalized marijuana, especially in a deep blue jurisdiction like the District of Columbia. Eidinger is a major pothead:
He has worked to legalize marijuana here for 15 years. He chairs the D.C. Cannabis Campaign and is a daily user, he says, to alleviate the pain of an arthritic condition called ulnar drift, though he doesn’t have a medical prescription. He co-owned the head shop Capitol Hemp until police closed it down. He doesn’t think the current legislation in the District to decriminalize small amounts goes far enough and blames his allies for cutting a deal.
His most dependable money is hemp-based:
Eidinger’s largest client is Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. He won’t disclose his income from the company but said it’s less than half the $250,000 salary of the owners. Dr. Bronner’s has been making soap for 65 years, and although it has dipped its toe ring into the mainstream and is now available at Target, the soap is still a favorite of hippies and those who wish to wash like them. Sometimes it isn’t clear whether the company sells soap to promote social action or promotes social action to sell soap.
In truth, Eidinger said, it’s probably both, and sales now top $50 million a year. CEO David Bronner hired Eidinger in 2001, just after Sept. 11, when Dr. Bronner’s began fighting the Drug Enforcement Administration over its proposed ban on the importation of hemp, a key ingredient in the oil used in many of Dr. Bronner’s products. “He is a warrior,” Bronner said. While the hemp industry went to court — and eventually won — along the way it poked fun at the DEA by setting up a table outside the agency’s headquarters and offering hemp-infused snacks to employees.
Speaking of 9/11, Otterbourg also puts in print that Eidinger is fringy enough to think it was an inside job, but he’s still lovably newsworthy:
Agitating is a hard way to make a living. Eidinger attributes his sustainability to being selective about where to spend his energy. “A lot of activists are willing to work on lost causes,” he says. “One of the reasons I’ve been able to make a career at this and pay my bills is that I won’t do that.”
For that reason, he doesn’t work on climate change or try to prove that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, involved a coverup, a belief he acknowledges could damage his reputation if more people knew about it. “I’m so passionate about this issue that if I took this on I’d do nothing else,” he said. “The thing should be investigated. There’s a conspiracy, and the official story doesn’t add up.”