Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Friday, June 30, 2006

CROSSROADS COMMENT -- Fourth of July Fears - Republican Style

"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing them."
--George Orwell

This Fourth of July politicians will copiously quote the scripture of the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence; someone will submit an angry letter to a small city newspaper about the billions being pounded into a hole in the sand that is Iraq; and a serious few who have long agonized about the death and self-destruction meted upon this country by lies, arrogance and incompetence, will stage twenty-four hour “Troops Home Fast” fasts across the country.

These acts of citizenship are protected, most would argue encouraged, by the Bill of Rights.

Why is it so easy to predict that these actions will send so many conservatives over the wall of reason and into the weed strewn fields of hyperbola, character assassination, and vitriolic contempt?

After all, Republicans control all three branches of the federal government. (Seven of the nine Supreme Court Justices are Republican appointees. Conservatives are uneasy. They want nine out of nine.) The Democrats are in disarray. Redistricting and voting shenanigans tip the whole structure of representative democracy to the right.

And of course there is the money. And Republicans are the acknowledged masters of money (despite what the accountants keep telling us about Iraq and Katrina). Warren Buffett may speak and act against what he calls the “dynasty of wealth,” but your run of the mill millionaires, your outsourcing corporations and your oily, pill pushing lobbyists all make certain their moola finds its way into the dynasty that is the RNC.

So I ask again, why are the veins standing out on Ann Coulter’s bared neck? Why does Limbaugh flash his teeth and send out daily signals about distress and doom stalking the land? Why does the fevered brain and tireless tongue of O’Reilly extrude an endless stream of contempt through the Tube of Fox night after night?

Uneasy sits the crown.

Perhaps, just perhaps, there is a gnawing fear eating at the worthies of the right. Do they fear that synthetic war drum patriotism, a heroic saving of the flag from the hordes of pyromaniacs roaming the land and the gallant defense of the sacred bond of marriage, not from adultery, materialism and domestic violence, but from the matrimonial dreams of human beings who are in love, will not do the trick this year? Perhaps their cellophane wrapped “values” issues will not be candy enough for the voters this election. Perhaps the votes of those who are uninsured, those cruelly tethered to a minimum wage written in Republican granite, and those workers, desperate for a job that will support a family, who are dismissed with a sniff and a sneer as “they won’t do this kind of work,” will demand substance not dueling sound bites from the candidates.

Sensing this, fearing this, the Republicans come on strong with a new bogey man, Salim Ahmed Hamdan. But he’s in custody. And he’s the chauffeur! Not the evil TV star Osama! You remember Osama, right? The guy we let get away right after 9/11.

Venom sounds pour out of the right wing's blog machine, out of W’s dusty hideout in west Texas, from Cheney’s Jackson Haliburton Hole redoubt. They all hit the same notes. But they all are sounding ever more shrill. Painfully shrill.

Katha Pollitt, the source and inspiration for this post, says it best (as she always does):

“Politicians can win votes for a long time by wrapping themselves in God and Flag and Family Values, but eventually they have to deliver something to their constituents, even if it’s one of those bridges to nowhere in Alaska.”

It appears the Bush Gang is not quite ready to face the “eventually” in Pollitt's truth. One can hope that the Democrats are ready to do so. But Evan Bayh’s (D-Senator, Indiana) spineless vote in support of the flag burning amendment does not bode well. We shall see.

Read Pollitt’s Virginity or Death!, the latest collection of her “Subject of Debate” columns from The Nation. The introduction alone is worth the price of the book.


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