Legion of Doom-kopfs

Okay. Tell me if this sounds familiar.

There’s this group of Anglo-American males, mostly well-to-do and some wealthy. They’re not big fans of minorities (especially African-Americans) or the poor. They hate homosexuals. They feel they know better than the rest of us what’s best for the community, so they’ve anointed themselves as the right folks to restore order (as they see it) and clean things up.

Republican Party 2012?

No.

Well, yes. But conservatives of the new millennium are not the ones I had in mind.

I was actually thinking back to Pascal High School in Fort Worth, Texas, circa 1985. I was remembering the Legion of Doom.

By all accounts, members of Pascal High’s Legion of Doom were All-American students from good, mostly privileged families, some even inhabiting the rarified confines of the Tanglewood and Overton Park neighborhoods on the West side.

The Legion of Doom didn’t like the growing minority population at Pascal. They didn’t like the increased levels of theft and drug use that they attributed to the increased minority population at Pascal. And, based on a misguided, self-indulgent sense of righteous indignation, these clean-cut, flag-waving Caucasian students decided to do something about it.

The Legion of Doom threatened classmates with guns and shot out a local porch light with an M-1 Carbine.  Members vandalized lockers. They painted a dummy black and used it for target practice. They constructed a homemade bazooka and built a gasoline bomb. They harassed poor kids and homosexuals. They smashed in the windows of one student’s car and pipe-bombed another. They gutted one student’s cat and splayed it across his steering wheel.

The hateful antics of the Legion of Doom and its members’ subsequent indictments and trials were well-known and made for rather unpleasant news coverage of Cowtown during the mid- to late ‘80s. But what didn’t get covered was the Legion’s philosophical underpinnings. Members of the Legion were conservative athletes and honor students. They were straight-laced sons of lawyers and executives and even one Christian minister. As one member’s mother put it, they were all “pro-Republican.”

The relevance of the Legion of Doom’s political leanings should never be downplayed. The Ronald Reagan presidency ushered in an alarming uptick in all things conservative, and many Republicans—especially those who had held their heads in shame since Watergate—were fat and sassy again. As pop act Huey Lewis and the News so aptly phrased things, it was once again “hip to be square.”

The Legion obviously took things too far. Their victims had had a hard enough time trying to act white or straight or upper middle class; demanding that they BE SQUARE OR ELSE just added insult to the many injuries the Legion inflicted.

Passing years, however, provide perspective.

It seems to me now that the Legion of Doom was just ahead of its time.

In a society where abortion-providers are gunned down in church, Democratic Senators are shot in public and African-American teenagers are killed for being black, the Legion of Doom today would probably be a hit with hardcore Republicans and get serious consideration for guest spots on Fox News. And Legion members would undoubtedly be hailed by fascist blowhards like Rush Limbaugh as misunderstood good Americans (like him).

We live in troubling times and it seems that for every sane person you run into, you meet two wackos. And not Charlie Manson or Jeffrey Dauhmer wackos.  I’m referring to Ward and June Cleaver wackos.  I’m talking about Mayberry freaks.  A large percentage of Middle America has gone zombie and can only be sated by gorging on human hatred and fear.

In the midst of the Legion of Doom news cycle, a sociology professor from Texas Christian University (in Fort Worth) noted that Legion members may have presented themselves as well-meaning vigilantes working to rid their community of destructive elements, but their explanation smacked of a wishful rationalization posited “to soothe their conscience.”

Smells like team spirit in the trenches of the 2012 Republican base.

A black man is president. Homosexuals are allowed to fight for their country. The nation is becoming more open-minded and diverse.

The extreme Right still slouches towards square-ness with “Papers Please” laws and selective voter disenfranchisement campaigns, but things are not going well for zombie bigots. Like Fort Worth’s mostly forgotten Legion, their doom is at hand by their own hand.

E.R. Bills is a writer from Aledo, Texas and the author of Texas Obscurities: Stories of the Peculiar, Exceptional and Nefarious (History Press, 2013). He can be reached at: erbillsthinks@gmail.com. Read other articles by E.R..