Friday, March 26, 2010

Why Americans Hate Democrats ('04)

Link: "Why Americans Hate Democrats"
by Jane Smiley
Slate, Nov. 4, 2004

[excerpted; full article at above link]

... It's time to be honest about our antagonists....

The election results reflect the decision of the right wing to cultivate and exploit ignorance in the citizenry....

Ignorance and bloodlust have a long tradition in the United States, especially in the red states....

The error that progressives have consistently committed over the years is to underestimate the vitality of ignorance in America.... The blue state citizens make the Rousseauvian mistake of thinking humans are essentially good, and so they never realize when they are about to be slugged from behind.

Here is how ignorance works: First, they put the fear of God into you -- if you don't believe in the literal word of the Bible, you will burn in hell. Of course, the literal word of the Bible is tremendously contradictory, and so you must abdicate all critical thinking, and accept a simple but logical system of belief that is dangerous to question. A corollary to this point is that they make sure you understand that Satan resides in the toils and snares of complex thought and so it is best not try it.

Next, they tell you that you are the best of a bad lot (humans, that is) and that as bad as you are, if you stick with them, you are among the chosen....

The history of the last four years shows that red state types, above all, do not want to be told what to do -- they prefer to be ignorant. As a result, they are virtually unteachable....

Third, and most important, when life grows difficult or fearsome, they (politicians, preachers, pundits) encourage you to cling to your ignorance with even more fervor.... (* See below)

A generation ago, the big capitalists, who have no morals, as we know, decided to make use of the religious right in their class war against the middle class and against the regulations that were protecting those whom they considered to be their rightful prey -- workers and consumers.

The architects of this strategy knew perfectly well that they were exploiting, among other unsavory qualities, a long American habit of virulent racism, but they did it anyway, and we see the outcome now....

remember that threats to democracy from the right always collapse. Whatever their short-term appeal, they are borne of hubris and hatred, and will destroy their purveyors in the end.

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(*) Now, in 2010, that reminds me of this:

Barack Obama caught on cellphone video during a campaign fund-raiser in April '08:

"... Our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives....

"It’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations...."

Full video (Click "more info" on the right for the transcript.)

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