Saturday, April 6, 2013
Who Are They?
I'll start today by enshrining forever the following brilliant post (and read its brilliant comments as well) by Mr. Edroso:
Ok, you see how Taranto did that, right. The commenters did, over and over, if you're not yet sure. (I'll bet you are.)
So this is a guy, James Taranto, who has a terrific job being a paid columnist for the Wall Street Journal. That's pretty remarkable. A very major member of the mainstream national press pays this man to write this column!
People like Taranto have sadly been elected to run my state, North Carolina. The Republicans now control the whole Legislature, both houses, and the Governorship. They are, pretty much en masse, as self-certain, arrogant, and (as clearly proved in Edroso's comments), appallingly stupid, as Mr. Taranto. Yet, like him, they are all making great salaries, and on the state taxpayer's dime no less in the case of the NC Legislature, hard at work making North Carolina as big a laughingstock as some of our "sisters" to the south and west. This past week, some 14 of our legislators signed on to a bill creating a North Carolina State Religion. The bill has apparently died a-borning, proving that there is yet some small mercy sprinkled in the aether, like pine pollen at the start of Spring. Still, they put it out there, to the extent that even Ms. Maddow (bless her heart) took the time to notice us all the way up in New York, and to put up pictures of the Fab Fourteen, one of 'em being the head of the State Senate.
I'm starting to think we ought to go back and look at some ancient history.
This is how it was in North Carolina when I was a kid, in the 1950s. My dad and I took a train trip from Raleigh to Denver in 1950. When we left Raleigh we left from the White Waiting Room. If I got a drink of water there, it was from the White Water Fountain. In the early '50s Jesse Helms ran a successful campaign for some guy named Willis Smith, who was running for US Senator against the former Chancellor of UNC, Frank Porter Graham. Later in the decade, Republican President Eisenhower sent troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to protect small children who were in the process of integrating the Little Rock school system (in a very token kinda way). The General who "won" World War II was then pretty much reviled as a "Communist" in these parts. Our own Legislature, then solidly Democratic, devised something called the Pearsall Plan*, which aimed to postpone school integration in North Carolina by possibly generations through a process of calculated tokenism, minimalism designed by lawyers. The logic was rather as Taranto's, above. You can look it up if you like. It forever disgraces North Carolina, but eventually it passed away, and by the early 1970s (!!) North Carolina public schools were pretty much integrated de jure at least.
*[Here's a description of the Pearsall Plan:
Note other remarkable features of its context, such as the racial makeup of the commission. Of course, 16 whites, 3 blacks! And by the way, another achievement of our current Legislature is the repeal of the just recently passed NC Racial Justice Act. Ain't nobody here but us chickens.]
Of course it took all that time, work, even blood, the slog of the late '50s through the mid-'60s, the murders of many earnest people trying simply to make things better, fairer, the beatings of many more, and then just when there was some sort of corner finally being turned, a Voting Rights Act, A Public Acomodations Law. Why of course there was the Vietnam War, and the "Southern Strategy." And Mr. Helms was still slogging on too, and got elected by North Carolina to the US Senate in 1972, where he stayed nearly as long as Strom Thurman, Thurman surely being an invented character, somebody Vonnegut thought up, or Doctorow, as amazing as South Carolina's current wonderboy, Mr. Sanford.
Here in NC we joke that we are the valley of humility between two mountains of conceit. Apparently we are in the midst of continental uplift. Virginia and South Carolina may have closed their public schools to thwart integration, but we're looking at establishing the Religion of North Carolina. No doubt it'll be more or less Baptist.
This is what it took, over and over and over again, to get from White Waiting Room to the goddam Vietnam War. This is the cavalcade of History, and how American Representative Democracy often operates.
Apparently the fires of discontent amongst the North Carolina racists and bigots and generally dumbass smoldered unquenched, from the moment they took those White Only signs down, till today, 60 years later more or less. Our Legislature toils at the work, their sleeves rolled up. So far amongst other things we've reneged on a contract with the City of Raleigh concerning a valuable state property, to the consternation of even the CEO of the communications company that long ago gave Jesse Helms a home and a platform. On the energy front, fracking is now welcome in NC, no further questions asked. Being considered: more weapons in schools for safety, less early voting time, less time for voter registration, a new voter-i.d. law, a slick law which would penalize parents of students voting where they attend school with higher taxes, stricter laws concerning abortion and a new law which would require those seeking a divorce to wait two years and attend forced counseling sessions. Last year, even before our elections, we passed a state constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.
For that matter, I've had "serious" conversations with people, on bulletin boards devoted to NC issues, who maintain with all the gravity of a Supreme Court Justice that the American Civil War changed absolutely nothing, that slavery is still just as "legal" as it ever was, that everything since Lincoln is unconstitutional. That's the long view. Possibly Justice Scalia agrees?
So who are these people? "American Fascists," that's as good a term as any. They have a whole TV network now, and that same network carries the most popular sports in the country as well: NASCAR, NFL, Major League Baseball. In our state, the most popular college team, UNC, can be found on "Rush Radio." While you're waiting for the game, might as well suck up a dose or two of Pure-T Hate complements of Rush hissef, or any of the others they feature.
I read this week that there's an ammunition shortage due to panic buying across the country. That's voting by gawd. We may be watching the destruction of a united country, state by state, into fiefdoms. Where's the feds when state after state pass trumped up building codes designed specifically to make a woman's health clinic close down? Go check the upstairs bafroom, Junior, Uncle Sam's been a mighty long time, and there's water dripping through the dining room ceiling. The constitutional law geniuses have had decades to work on their nifty arguments, and Mr. LaPierre can get up on your TV and pontificate as long as he wants, and no one even responds with the obvious: Hey didn't that DA and his wife down in Texas carry weapons, and weren't they expecting trouble?"
It don't look good. Tomorrow I'm going up to Martinsville and watch the millionaires zoom around the Paper Clip, beating up their expensive gas guzzlers for 500 laps. I might even take off my ear protection and mainline the power. I'll be wearing #18. He's due. Hopefully Kyle won't start talking politics at some point. He's a race car driver fer gawd's sake.
The pundits say Mr. Obama still aches to find some deep compromise point with these people, some way to cut the Gorgon's Knot. It's certainly the generic hope of any politician of true good will. It's what Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman hoped. As we're seeing day by day here in NC, these people are not of good will. Never was. Never will be.