Monday, July 19, 2010

Heomodor's Prediction

When I was a wee colleen, eager to thwart the unreasonable hierarchical constructs that I identified as the enemies of justice and goodness, but still naive enough to think I could purchase the accessories of revolution at the mall, Heomodor sat me down for a little talk.* She started right in at the gaping hole of greatest import in my understanding: my full acceptance of the media-softened narrative of “the sixties.” I paraphrase, but what she said went a little something like this:

“The television is lying to you. This country was AT CIVIL WAR twenty years ago. It was an ugly time, not a beautiful one. There was no love and peace then. Shots were fired, and people were killed. They were killed for their ideas. They were killed by the police, under orders from the governments of their cities and states. They were killed by their countrymen in the name of America, and God, and Freedom. It was terrifying, and it will happen again. Hateful people still exist, and they will still be willing to kill to frighten others into pretending to believe they are right. The next time it happens it will be worse.”

My response was to roll my eyes covertly, as was so often the case when my mother would talk about the events that occurred before I was born as if they were not perfectly resolvable sitcom-level conflicts. Yeah, right, mom. Of course men were rude to women, and white people were rude to black people, on purpose, as if their parents never introduced the topic of manners. Sure. Yeah, yeah, the flower children chose images of peace and love purposefully to challenge their opponents’ world views, thus filling their opponents with the kind of frothy rage that made Travis shoot Ole Yeller. Whatever.

Then, a few years later, I was a little less wee, and a little less desirous of proving Heomodor wrong on general principle, but still aggressively ‘independent’ enough to be determined to watch all the political coverage available so I could make an informed decision in my very first presidential election. Thus was I willing and eager to watch the Republican National Convention of 1992.

Holy Fuck.

I’d like to say that my assessment of the situation has evolved to include pithy insights and erudite evaluations since then, but it’s really just been a decades-long, ever-increasing feeling of ‘Holy Fuck.’ These right-wingers, they know how to up the hate-monger ante.

Now we have those on the right – not the crazy cabin-in-the-woods right like Timothy McVeigh, but the ‘Hi, I’m running for Mayor/Congress/Senate’ right – speaking publicly of ‘second amendment solutions’ to their political problems. And it’s not just idle talk, as the family of the murdered Dr. Tiller will no doubt attest. There are those on the right who are not using eliminationist rhetoric as a mere political ploy; these bastards want us silent, and if dead is the only way to achieve silent, they’ll go with that.

The rhetoric is being assisted along by judicial decisions like the recent Supreme Court decision overturning gun bans in various locations, but most notably in DC, where we keep our federal government. This is the same federal government that oppresses all these hate-mongers by limiting their free reign to oppress other Americans with impunity.

I fear that the perfect storm Heomodor envisioned a bit over a decade ago is gathering now. Militarized ideologues have been defining themselves and their followers as warriors for decades, yes. Culture Warriors and Christian Warriors, yes, but that is just the preliminary work. That work is their effort to Other people on the left, and some of the people on the left then Other the people on the right, and then we have opposing sides of “war.” That is in place, really. And there is a very short hop between metaphorical ‘war’ and real duck-and-cover war once Othering has been completed. Ask the Sudan.

*She kindly neglected to inform me of how embarrassingly obtuse it was to be a little consumerist 80’s girl, wearing mass-produced simulacra of the artifacts of an earlier teenaged counter-cultural rebellion. That must have been difficult for her, because I had a full complement of mass-produced Hippie-inspired Yuppie gear. Thinking back on this gear now sends me into a full blush that rivals the one I produce when suffering from the effects of bad tequila.

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