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, January 06, 2012

The Flag of Totalism Rightists Fly

I spend some time each day frustrating myself by responding to blog and forum comments posted by Rightists.  The silly, not deserving a response, issues they raise have the one redeeming element of requiring me to ask: Why might these people think along these crooked, foggy lines? 

A strain in modern day Conservatism is traditionalism.  This is a strength (see Edmund Burke) and a weakness (see most Rightists today).  Here, for example, is the obvious weakness in arguments put forward supporting the proud display of the Confederate flag. With neither a cough or a blush, Rightists hold that the Stars and Bars stands for something more, something, hmmm, more noble, than the symbol of the slave holding states’ war on the United States and the Constitution.  Their urgency toward historical purification of the putrid Lost Cause can’t be achieved without misrepresenting the historical record. 

And why would Rightist conservatives of today be interested in this sorry, doomed to failure, flag  enterprise?  Think states rights dogma. Think Red states/Blue states. Think the sanctity of property, even human beings as property. Think the “underdog,” put upon, self-image Rightists hold and cultivate.  Given these battles, past and present and all raised to the level of a World Wrestling Entertainment Global Smackdown struggle,  Rightists require a traditionalism with no loose ends, no past failings, a totalism that any reading of history shows is beyond the reach of mere human beings acting over time. 

This forced  reading of history must be peopled by good guys and bad guys, stances that are  clearly right and clearly wrong, questions and issues drawn in stark black and white terms. This is the dynamic of analysis in the Rightist conservative world historical view. Thus the weird propensity of Rightist conservatives to embrace conspiracy theories-- “birthers,” “deniers,” “Agenda 21,” “9/11 ers,” “Clinton body count,” . . . the list goes on–provides an insight into their cheesy traditionalism.  They tightly grip irrationally in their clenched fists and call it Truth with a capital T.  For Rightist conservatives the past is not just another country, the past is an alien planet they visit looking for support of their fears and curdled  imaginations.  

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