This is a sad post for me to write. I live in northwest Missouri – in the isolated world of simple people relishing ignorance. The reverse discrimination against education and professionalism permeates the culture. My sadness surrounds my family – a people proud of being in the lower economic class. Most of them are adamant followers and champions of the 2010 Tea Bag movement.
My parents were born in the early 1920′s to a working class family. Their teen years were dominated by the Great Depression. They learned to make do with what they had. Sadly, they also learned their station in life – they and their family were relegated to the bottom of the economic ladder. Frustrated and resentful they became embittered toward anyone who obtained an education and a profession. My parents had seven children, five of whom bought into the lower class mentality, two went to college and wore a coat and tie to work. I was one of the two. My parents and other siblings were never happy about my career – preferring to discredit anything I said as ‘elitism.’
A few examples might prove useful. Many years ago I was visiting at my parents home early one evening while they were preparing supper. I watched my mother chop an onion. I said, “Hey Mom, let me show you another way of chopping that onion.” She bristled at my advice and snapped at me, “I don’t care how you peel onions. My way is good enough for me.”
The midwest flooded in 1993 – and one of my brothers lost his job at a warehouse – the warehouse had flooded and the business closed rather than try to re-sanitize the building. On hearing this I commented, “Well, it might be a blessing. He might go back to school and get an education.” My Mother snapped again, “Ohg,” she said, “Not everybody can be lawyers and doctors. Someone has to clean the streets and pick up the trash!” My simple reply was, “That is true. But it does not have to be me or my brothers.” Sadness abounds in my family.
Fast forward to 2010. One brother told me he hated that Katie Couric news woman. “She asked Sarah Palin what magazines or newspaper she reads. What does that have to do with anything? Couric thinks that just because you read you must be smart and if you don’t read then you must be dumb. I don’t read shit and look at me.” I sat quietly – looking at him.
My sister and a couple of my brothers belong to fanatical fundamentalist religious organizations. I cannot bring myself to call them Christian Churches. In their minds the only book with any legitimacy is the Bible – and the only legitimate reading of the Bible belongs to their respective organization. They are members of different denominations and they do not agree with each other – but each persists that their interpretation is divinely inspired. The only interest they have in the history of Christianity concerns the failures of the Roman Catholic Church over 2,000 years. They all agree that the Catholic Church is the church of the devil.
Because modern science supports the concept of evolution my fundamentalist family members have come to the conclusion that science in general is a product of the devil. Because Global Climate Change is predicted by scientists the idea is immediately discredited. They laugh at the idea of Global Warming, “Those are the same people that said we came from monkeys.” Yuk! Yuk! Real funny stuff there folks.
I think it is safe to say that I have personal experience with people on the radical right of America’s political spectrum. They are not just pro-working class – they are blatantly anti-education, anti-professionalism, and anti-government. Every single one of the people of whom I speak have benefited from government programs. They do not know this because they do not bother to think about what government is. These are the people who shout things like, “The government should leave my Medicare alone!” and “Why is the government messing with my Social Security?” and “How come the Government took away my COLA?”
Many of the people in northwest Missouri do not understand the difference between local, State, and Federal Government. They do not understand the difference between the County Commission and the local School Board. “Vote against the Mayor because the School District is cutting high school football funding” Or “Vote against Obama because the Mayor did not fix our potholes.” “I don’t read shit and look at me,” the proud smirk of a man on his way to vote.
My brothers do not like President Obama because he graduated from some big school and was a Law Professor somewhere. Those facts qualify Obama as an elitist who will try to tell them how to chop an onion. Next thing you know he will be telling us how to cook fried chicken.
I am deeply saddened by the proud ignorance of good people. But wait – the situation gets worse. The modern Republican Party has intentionally rallied the simple folks of America. In the process they have crimped their ability to legislate or govern. We see men who have traditionally been thoughtful Republicans, people like John McCain of Arizona, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, and Charlie Christ of Florida, are forced to cater to the dumbed down mentality of the stirred up ignorant class.
We expect a few wackos to participate in the national political process. People like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman. The crime here is not really the ignorance of the lower economic classes – the crime is that some would take advantage of the naive innocence for political gain.
The GOP and the Tea Party Movement are guilty of using words like socialism and communism and Hitler to define the Democrats in general and Obama in particular. The crime is that these people know exactly what they are doing. The GOP has no intention of addressing the needs of the lower classes – metaphorically, they want to keep the women bare foot in the winter and pregnant in the summer so they can continue to manipulate the system.
Philosophically, I am infuriated with political leaders who take advantage of ignorance. Political leaders who would deny educational opportunities, who would deny health care, who would manipulate bank regulations to steal from people who do not understand interest rates – and then rally those same people with the language of fear and hate. I wish these Rovian politicians would leave my family alone.
Spiritually, the height of sin – to take the name of the Lord in vain (using it for your own purpose).
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