All Rights Reserved © 2004 Thomas W. Day
[This is another old rant, pre-Rat, in fact. The original piece was published in the Orange County Register, in 1986. I discovered it in a fit of hard disk sterilization and it seemed appropriate to this year just as it did during the Reagan years in SoCal.]
The onslaught of "redneck" conservatism is prompting me to write this. A combination of the micro-minded (I apologize for the Communist metric term.) state representatives Dornan, Ferguson, and their supporters, the comments of the Contra Costa County District Attorney (DeBeer, L.A. Times, 6/22/86), the insidious attack on free speech that the Meese commission's blackmail represents, and our pitifully confused president's defense of his awful court selections have overwhelmed me. I am under personal pressure to defend the "real" standards that America represents. Standards that were expressed and well documented by the "real" Founding Fathers; not Reagan's contra imitations.
First, I want to establish two definitions.
The Right often applies the descriptive terms "Bolshevik", "commy", "red", "pinko", and (when they are feeling sociable) "socialist" to any opinion and opinion-holder on the liberal side of George Patton. When this scale of analogy is applied to themselves (as in "Nazi", "fascist", etc.) the right wing acts like they have been horribly wounded. Tough. If you can't take it, don't dish it out. On an unnecessarily civilized scale you good ole boys are practicing vicious forms of argumentum ad hominem (personal slander) and ignorantiam (ignorance). If you can't be restrained to argument by the logical rules of debate, don't expect your opponents to be so shackled.
The second defiled word that I want to reclaim is "conservative". The present political definition of "conservative" is a fundamentalist, anti-human rights, supporter of the loudest, most macho posturing demagogue (unless the "conservative" is that demagogue, then he simply supports himself). Webster's has a more satisfying definition; "a cautious or discreet person...tending to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions...marked by or relating to traditional norms of taste, elegance, style, or manners." I believe that definition applies to many of the people that the right opposes and few of the politicians they support. Especially the last section; "elegance, style, or manners" are in short supply from the far right. Take a look at the Times picture of Dornan and Ferguson (Hayden, L.A. Times, 6/24/86) for examples.
I think any intelligent reader of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Jefferson, Paine, Washington, Whitman, or Thoreau would be forced to link Tom Hayden's positions closer to a true "American" stance than the rantings of Bobby Dornan or the posturing of Guilt Ferguson. The difference between the quality of Dornan's "a liar . . . a coward . . . and a traitor" (or Dornan's ranting at a closed door, "I am a member of Congress!") and Hayden's "My country, let me right the wrongs" should shed some light on the subject. These two "conservative" politicians remind me of another phony patriot's heroism. Anybody ask where "Rambo" was during the Vietnam period? He wasn't hiding behind twenty layers of officers and enlisted men, but he was safely in a foreign country exposing his chest at a girl's school. It doesn't take courage to assume a right-wing stance.
This country is full of simple people, who will follow the man who tells them they are "number one". They will follow him off the tallest cliff top. Hitler didn't go against the popular grain. Dornan and Ferguson know where the prevailing winds blow. They know the cost of fighting the crowd (They may not have a motive, though.). History contains a long list of men without morals and/or wisdom who followed the chanting of the masses. It does not present them well.
I can't give a retired general much credit for patriotism. Possibly radical protectionism, but not patriotism. Scores of these profiteers parade their self-claimed heroism after short twenty-year careers of poor quality middle-management while having their every whim catered to by enlisted boys. Then, using the guise of "sacrificing servant", they double-dip into the public coffers with civil service careers or political ambitions; paid for by the companies whose over-run, pitifully-designed products their mis-managing allowed into the cynical military industrial simplex.
Military men are military men. They aren't about ideology and it doesn't matter which side they are on. For them, the struggle between right and wrong is reduced to tactics and firepower. If our imagined invaders leave anybody in place, it will be the middle-to-upper military management. It would not be cost-effective to replace them, since they won't need re-training or expensive additional linguistic education. If they are left in place (or slightly re-sorted) they will carry on as before with a few new phrases to shout at their fool soldiers.
During a recent conversation about the real or imagined threat presented by Nicaragua, Cuba, and the Soviet Union, I began contemplating what changes would occur from such an invasion. The most radical right-winger's scenario goes along these lines: The far-right often uses examples of what sets us apart and above the "communists". Freedom of speech and press is often example numero ono. I've noticed that "conservative" politicians seem to be in the forefront of censorship's fan club. I suspect that they are merely honestly interested in their own comments and would be strongly in favor of shutting the rest of us up. Freedom of religion is close to every rightist's heart. Especially those fundamentalist types who offer the rest of us the freedom to join their religion or find somewhere else to live. And we can take our radical, pornographic, or un-nationalistic free press with us! Their interpretation of these freedoms seems to closely resemble the freedom another Mr. Christian offered Captain Bligh.
I could be missing something, but this all seems suspicious. It has been often noted that government officials are most interested in limiting access to documents that chronicle their foul-ups and criminal actions. I suspect that the government officials in the Kremlin who are responsible for the notorious communist press repression are the same kind of people that are interested in that sort of authority in our own government. In fact, I suspect that, if the Russians could have non-violently overthrown our political system, they would employ the same people just to simplify the language difficulties that a new government would face. Walt Kelly and Pogo might be even righter (no pun) than ever with "We have seen the enemy, and he is us."
From sometime in 1986