Tuesday, June 24, 2008

excerpt 07

(excerpt from "It Seemed Funny at the Time) rough

To make my father’s edition of the American Dream a reality, Reality was viewed as a nightmare to wake up from.

A few years after my birth, my father converted our family to a new religion. As a traveling salesman with Ralston Purina, he began to listen to a radio evangelist that spoke to his mindset. Herbert W. Armstrong preached the superiority of the descendants of Briton (the real lost tribes of Israel apparently moved to England and are the actual chosen people). Everyone else were just filler in this world, or jealous pretenders to the throne. I can imagine my father driving down long stretches of paved prairie roads with his eyes focused on the rapid metronome of the striped white line. This bombastic prophet of the Second Coming must have been music to the ears of a patriarchal Anglo-centric male in the early 1970’s.

The time of Tribulation was surely upon us. The Book of Revelations in my fathers Bible was well worn. The pages were full of tiny notes in the margins and glowed with yellow and blue passages he had meticulously traced with highlighters. The media was secularizing the nation; primitive beats and screams were coming from the radio, women were upsetting the natural order by clamoring for equal rights on TV news, and the Jews were surely in control of the movie industry. Outside noise was infringing on his American Dream, as it seemed to grow thinner and thinner. Heathens and blasphemers were insidiously displacing the white Christian majority. Something had to be done.

One of my earliest memories is sitting on my father’s shoulders looking at a throng of wildly enthusiastic people cheering for a man on a stage. He was just talking and people would periodically erupt into cheers and applause. When finished, he held both hands up making V signs with his fingers. The response was even more enthusiastic cheering. It was impressive.

The Neo-Conservative movement had yet to be called such. Complex arguments did not have to be made to win major Ruralite support. Nixon and his ilk were able to sniff out the common fears of the white American dreamers and reflect them back on the crowds with simple clarity and base conviction. In particular, marijuana was singled out as a common pleasure for the blacks, the hippies, and other disenfranchised types that so frightened ma and pa. Criminalizing the plant criminalized the fans of its qualities, and the Us vs. Them polarization of the Union gained significant steam. The irony of curtailing liberty to preserve the American Way of Life was lost in a nostalgic patriotic fever. The generation that watched America defeat Evil on the news reels of nickel movies were imprinted by the American Brand™ so completely that they failed to recognize their own descent into fascism.

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