Friday, October 23, 2009

Traditional Americans

Sometimes a memory only sees what it wants to believe - Black Crowes

Andrew Sullivan points us to this rabble-rousing post from Pat Buchannan.

Quick question, Patty, what America, specifically, do you come from? Is it the one where Christianity was "purged" from schools that taxpayers paid for in exchange for some other religion? Or was it the America that removed religion so Protestant kids didn't have to be exposed to Catholic prayer? Maybe it was the one where children weren't allowed to go to school based on the color of their skin? Perhaps the one where half the population fled areas where this "integration" thing was supposed to take place, and took their tax dollars with them?

Is it the America that sees its Christian faith mocked in movies and television, or is it the America that won't stop flocking to such puerile movies, paying $10 a ticket, and then spends the same money the next week watching a moview where grown men get kicked in the balls and have sex with applie pie? But not too late on a Saturday night 'cause they got to be at church on Sunday?

Maybe that's the America that feels the need to prove how faithful they are to other believers by raising giant Ten Commandments monuments and crosses all over public lands, the "Christian" version of balloon boy's father - doing what they can to turn controversey into a paycheck?

And let's talk about all those shuttered factories being shipped off overseas. Those were great places to work back in "traditional America," weren't they? Oh, how we miss those heady days of child labor, no regulation to speak of and being beaten while asking for better pay and working conditions. What about other industries? What ever happened to the idyllic fields of sharecroppers and the honest day's work boring holes into the West Virginia mountains, dying early from broken backs or blackened lungs?

Oh, you mean more recent than that? I guess we should ask the blacks and the women how they felt about getting paid less than co-workers, if they were able to get those jobs at all.

I reckon that in Buchannan's "traditional America," illegal aliens didn't just walk into America and live high on the hog. No, "back in the day" they had to get jobs in the aforementioned factories and fields and mines, with the same "access" to poor educational conditions and overcrowded emergency rooms that other at-risk populations had access to. All the while, they had no legal recourse if, say, their foreman paid them a pittiance or subjected them to terrifying, dangerous and inhumane working conditions all in violation of US law.

No, we've lost that tradition these days, haven't we? It is so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

And the thing "traditional Americans" have the most to be upset about is the "affirmative action" of Barack and Michelle Obama. You know, the rules that said Obama got to start off election night with 35 more electoral votes than John McCain.

"Traditional Americans" don't need affirmative action. They live by the sweat of their brow alone, in the solemn dignity that comes from NOT being part of a demographic systematically, culturally and legally denied educational, economic and political opportunity for at least 400 years. No, the last 50 years of freedom (which all those good "traditional Americans" welcomed with open arms and smiling faces - not police dogs and fire hoses) should have erased the previous 4 centuries by now.

Get a grip, Patty. The only tradition we Americans have is that of constant change. Things may not be good right now, but they are for some folks. When the folks who have it good look back on these days, their memories will be fond. That's the point, there's not really a time anywhere in the past where it was truly peachy for everyone all at once. In every era from colonization to now, you've got some folks having the time of thier lives, and some folks mired in everything bad society had to offer at the time.

But we keep marching forward, as clumsy as we are, usually looking back to where we were as the idyllic place we left.

It is because we don't like to think about how ugly the past really is. The all-good, traditional America of which you speak never existed. That feeling of loss you have is the same one you felt when momma and daddy told you the truth about Santa Claus.


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