What do you expect?

On good ol’ flteach there’s a firestorm over the conservative reaction to Obama’s speech to kids. All of the reactions on flteach show the writers to be appalled at the Right’s reaction. A few hedge a little but even a McCain supporter said the reaction is insane.

But what do you expect? Many years ago, I worked in a John Birch Society bookstore; not an American Opinion Library bookstore, the outlet for the society, but a bookstore that served the society until it could open its own store. There I got to know intimately the opinions of conservatives. After all, Maricopa County Arizona was a hotbed of right-wing conservatism (to be distinguished from other sorts of conservatism which have been washed away in the right-wing tidal wave since then except for the Libertarians).

Over the years, I saw the venom and vehemence of those crazies spread to become the norm of discourse among conservatives. At the same time, I sold encyclopedias from door-to-door and our road manager had been a right-wing talk show host in Florida in the 50s. He was thoroughly cynical about manipulating the bible-thumpers.

Once Reagan made contempt for the poor and racial minorities acceptable, the Republican party saw that Goldwater’s and Nixon’s “Southern strategy” worked beautifully to garner votes. Lee Atwater pulled out all the stops for George H.W. Bush and gave us Willie Horton. Atwater embodied the horrible dilemma of the White South: on the one hand, he could play blues like a Black man….. and I say that as a person who is hypercritical of non-Black people claiming to sound Black; on the other hand, he couldn’t pass up a chance to use race in a way detrimental to Black folk. They do it time and time again.

By the time of the Republican ascendency, they had gathered the greatest group of slimeballs politics has ever seen: Rove, Delay, Abramoff, Armey, Gingrich, Lott and all the rest. Eventually, we got a cable news outlet devoted to promoting the lunatic fringe, Fox News. Only when Obama ran did we get an outlet of commentators, MSNBC, that challenged the Right.

But it was not in time to counter the venom that had been spreading through the society at the hands of Robertson and Falwell, Lay and Skilling, Limbaugh and Colbert (just joking), and, not the least, Bush and Cheney. Millions of Americans, most of them the very victims of corporate fraud and insurance company greed, have bought into the notion that our country is Christian and under attack by Satanic forces. Forget health care, education, infrastructure, corporate fraud, military adventures, unsafe food and toys…. WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!!! And it’s those scary foreigners abetted by traitorous Americans who don’t realize that only donations to Rev. Billy Bob can save us.

Remember Bush’s prayer moments? His hands-over-the-six-guns pose? Millions of Americans had been made ready to accept this phony as their savior by 50 years of Right-wing propaganda and we are still reaping the seeds that sprouted. I remember so well that Blacks who demanded their civil rights were labeled Communists. Does that sound familiar?

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