Sunday, August 9, 2009

the flip side of American History

Andrew Sullivan gets letters. (via)

A political and demographic re-alignment is happening before their eyes, and they are reaching back into their old bag of tricks of intimidation, violence, and apocalyptic fearmongering. You are British, Andrew. You love this country, and we love you for it. But you didn't grow up around these folks, and you don't realize what a permanent and potent part of the American political landscape they are.

They have always been with us, the people who believed in manifest destiny, who delighted in the slaughter of this land's original inhabitants, who cheered a nation into a civil war to support an economic system of slavery that didn't even benefit them. They are the people who bashed the unions and cheered on the anti-sedition laws, who joined the Pinkertons and the No Nothing Party[sic--see also], who beat up Catholic immigrants and occasionally torched the black part of town. They rode through the Southern pine forests at night, they banned non-European immigration, they burned John Rockefeller Jr. in effigy for proposing the Grand Tetons National Park.

These are the folks who drove Teddy Roosevelt out of the Republican Party and called his cousin Franklin a communist, shut their town's borders to the Okies and played the protectionist card right up til Pearl Harbor, when they suddenly had a new foreign enemy to hate. They are with us, the John Birchers, the anti-flouride and black helicopter nuts, the squirrly commie-hating hysterics who always loved the loyalty oath, the forced confession, the auto-de-fe. Those who await with baited breath the race war, the nuclear holocaust, the cultural jihad, the second coming, they make up much more of America then you would care to think.

You have to read the whole thing to get the full flavor. Sullivan, of course, is a unique character; a Brit living in the States, a gay man who's right of center, Orwell fanatic, etc. So I wonder what was going thru Sully's head as he was reading this.

Anyway, we always knew a certain swath of society was going to be really pissed if Obama actually made it to the White House. The birthers & teabaggers are going to make a bunch of terrible noise for a while, but I don't think they're going to do a hell of a lot to improve their position on this map.

Bonus birther madness: