In 1949 I was abducted from my family home, a little two-story brick farmhouse in Ohio, and taken, by a man and woman who bore remarkable resemblance to my parents, to a small farming community on the central Gulf coast of Florida. Not only was I taken from my home, my way of life was dramatically changed only weeks after the abduction by my being sent to labor with the strangest of strangers in the local elementary school.
I soon discovered that there had been a war – I knew about World War II, of course, and thought at first it was that one – of such terrible and lasting importance that it had to continue being fought in a guerrilla action against 5 year-old boys from Ohio. The local boys knew a great deal about me that I didn’t know myself. I was a yankee and therefore of a disreputable species insistent on telling lies about a thing called the Civil War and also a nigger-lover among other horrors.
Where I had lived my charmed and happy previous life was curiously empty of all but pale skinned humans; I knew little of how to correctly feel about, what were then politely called, Negroes. My new peers, playmates and tormentors dutifully tried to teach me about the various errors of my ways, though I proved a poor student. I took their lessons to heart, however, since they were committed and serious instructors, with bloody noses and “Indian burns” as teacher’s comments. But, like students everywhere, I learned what they were really teaching – how to avoid the unpleasantness.
For the faint hearted, do not be too moved by this narrative; I quickly learned the rules and turned my small, but farm hardened, body into a sufficiently brutal weapon that soon even the tough kids preferred to avoid being my teachers and allowed me to wallow on in ignorance so long as I didn’t show it to them too powerfully or often.
My point, beyond the pleasure of remembering my youth, is that those young men (and some girls, although they mostly found me just ‘too cute for words’) are now the so-called Tea Partiers of today’s political world. The direct, powerful and monumentally misguided certainties of their youth have not substantially changed. The cocoon of their daily existence has, however, been torn open by a black man in the White House, by the unavoidable falling apart of their life’s economic narrative, by the stench of rot coming from the piles of fetid lies told to manipulate them. They are looking for someone to give a bloody nose or an Indian burn. And they know, for certain, who it is; it is someone not like them, it is the foreigner, it is anyone who questions their certainties.
I know them, I grew up with them and they were my friends. My first serious girl friend told me as she was about to graduate from high school (and planning the certainty of her future) that I would have to give up believing in evolution if our lives were to go on perfectly. Another close friend told me that I had to not smoke a pipe around others, it was OK with him since he really knew me, but others got the wrong idea. Just image if I had talked about General Giap’s book on guerilla warfare or the gentle and loving brush off, and not a thrashing, that I had given to the gay black student at university who had professed his love.
There are a majority of people in this country and all countries who must live their daily lives in certainty, and they will endure all manner of lies to do it. They are not bad people; they are people, what the species is.
A group of the political class in this country have worked their way around to the complete cynicism of The Lie as policy. With the help of psychologists, linguists, poll takers, sociopathic manipulators all supported with the money of another species, Homo elitus, this collection of power seekers has harnessed the fear of these former friends of mine – friends still if I were to go see them.
I have forgiven the rashed skin on my forearms and I gave bloody noses as good as I got. I came to love and respect those poor misguided souls who even in their high school years couldn’t accept that the south lost the Civil War or that their God might have a speck of sympathy for a non-white person. They were and are baggaged with a version of American culture that is a lie.
And now that the most despicable and hateful of political lowlifes are victimizing these folks, using their most cherished weaknesses against them, I am becoming heartsick. I realize the power contained in the certainties of these, now terribly frightened, people. I gave up confronting it as a boy and man; it was nearly futile. And I am completely flummoxed now as to how it might be confronted today.
But it must be, and not with lies denying lies. Somehow the stench from the lies of the power elite (they are not conservative or right wing or republican although those are the masks they are presently wearing) must be traced to their sources. Hard truth, slow truth must be told and told again and again until it is heard.
I have written before that a lie is worse than murder. A lie is intended to get you to behave in ways that disbenefits you in favor of others. A big lie can ruin your life; rather than a quick death, many 10s of years can be spent destructively of self and others. We are, today, in a downpour of lies about ourselves and the world that we live in, lies that are intended to support the immediate advantage of an economic elite, to disempower the rest of us both now and in the future and with the eventual consequence of reconstructing the human world into global oligarchic wage-slave states as the only form of governance that the economic elite can or are willing to imagine.
How do I explain this to Billy or Alicia? They will not hear it on CNN. They will not seek it out; if you live on narrow certainties, especially when challenged, you seek in, not out. The liar has seeded the lie with ready rejections of the truth, with ‘socialism’ and ‘abortion’ and ‘take away your way of life.’ So that when I say, “You can’t continue to live as you do; we are all changing the world in ways that will make life intolerable for our children.”, they answer back, “Socialist, you only want to change my way of life because you are jealous.” And then they give me an Indian burn and tell me to go away.
I have great sympathy for these folks, the real grass-roots that have been stirred to action by the feeding of their greatest fears. They will often be the first and the most harmed by the very politicians that they support. And sympathy that if the nation is to be saved from itself, they will have to have their certainties shattered; some would not survive it.
At this point in time I see no force formed or forming that can take on the Big Lie machine of Homo elitus. All political parties are infected or can be, religious institutions too. The educational system is running scared. The intelligentsia either isn’t or is ignored. The media is the elite with minor exception. The economic elite has the weakness of doing anything that will make money so that truths that pay off can be told for a time; but my point is, who would you tell, and how, when many of those that you need to reach still believe in their heart of hearts that the south really won the Civil War and that non-whites aren’t really human.