One thing I try to stress to my students is that they shouldn’t assume that technological sophistication is the equivalent spiritual, intellectual, or social sophistication. Certainly, Tibet isn’t known for its state-of-the-art infrastructure, luxury condos, or sound systems, but few First World citizens would argue that US Televangelist Joel Osteen is a higher being than the Dalai Lama or that Jacques Derrida’s intellect was superior to Aristotle’s or that Dr. Phil understands human nature better than Geoffrey Chaucer.
For example, here’s one former member of the University of South Carolina’s Law Review, a former executive director of the South Carolina’s Republican Party, and current 21st Century US citizen’s solution to the now all but forgotten Ebola crisis:
Need I add that, of course, Mr. Kincannon is pro-life.
Imagine someone in the 1950’s suggesting euthanasia as a way to eradicate polio. I suspect if you conducted a poll of sustenance farmers throughout Asia, the vast majority would consider Mr. Kincannon’s solution to the Ebola epidemic barbaric, even though a large number of them might very well be illiterate.
This same Kincannon fellow in another tweet offers this rather un-PC assessment of the original inhabitants of the American continent:
Of course, the metaphor is backwards: my ancestors, the colonists, were the infestation. Native Americans were here first. We sort of, to be crude about it, car-jacked the continent.
Unfortunately, the media brand rabble-rousers like Kincannon as conservatives, but they have about as much in common with Edmund Burke as Andrew Dice Clay does with Oscar Wilde. They are reactionaries, hipshooters, intemperate, the opposite of conservatives.
Of course, the irony is that often far right adversaries like Benjamin Netanyahu and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei often have a lot in common — monotheism, tribal intransigence and the fervent wish that the US/Irani negotiations fail.
2 thoughts on “Let’s Rebrand Ultra-Conservatives as Reactionaries”
“Imagine someone in the 1950’s suggesting euthanasia as a way to eradicate polio.”
Do you think that in the 1950’s people didn’t suggest exactly that? Well they did. Not directly, of course. That degree of honesty would never have been acceptable in the 1950’s lest the hard expression of truth crack the veneer of nicely, niceness that Americans glued down for the purpose of masking everything real so they could present the veneer as being solid and true.
Look up just when it was that legislation was finally passed that required school districts to educate their crippled young.
It was difficult enough getting the coffee shop at the Presidential Hotel in Ventnor NJ to let a fond grandparent who had wheeled the kid down the Boardwalk from the Children’s Seashore House to enjoy an ice cream into the dull and mostly empty shop. It was explained that we needed to go somewhere else because the normals found that looking at crippled children are too depressing. Or so it was explained. My grandmother took to carrying a cane which she used to deliver a well-aimed rap to a certain bony protrusion on the ankle.
Our school district refused to send a teacher to the house. Back in the 1950’s we had to pay two teachers $38 each for the four paltry hours they spent with me. (I didn’t blame the teachers. Not then, and not now. Teachers aren’t known for being lavishly remunerated for their labours.) Yet suburban districts could come up with cornucopias of dollars to spend on the football team. They used to brag about the purchase of new football uniforms and other sports paraphenalia every year.
What used to puzzle me were the clash of expectations. Those of us with a reasonable degree of dexterity would be expected to be self-supporting. Yet here we were being denied the education that would be fundamental if we were to have any hope of success. For the girls it wasn’t as if we really believed that anyone would marry us.
I couldn’t have been the only cripple who limped along after Mother and noticed that years would pass before we came across even one crippled person in employment, if we ever did.
I wondered where all those superannuated poster children were. Where did they put them all?
The answer came to me by revelation on a broiling July day in a suburban shopping plaza. I had hiked there in my ungainly leg braces, propelled along by my ckicketty-clacketty crutches to buy a present for my mother. I was minding my own business when I happened to overhear a grossly obese woman ask her friend what that crippled girl was doing “out on her own”, adding her belief that with all the money people collected for these children they should be cared for and no one should have to look at them.
Years later I would see Tea Party members toss dollar bills at a disabled man who found himself unable to get a health insurance policy due to a preexisting condition. Like me, that man had earned a PhD in engineering.
A decade earlier, and newly widowed, I had been similarly taunted, told to “die and get out of the way” by several Conservative Christians and an otherwise liberal Jew, one of whom had been my best friend.
There never was anything personal in what I experienced. It was nothing more than an expression of their contempt. These experiences are common.
I have since emigrated to a country where I have been made to feel more welcome.
Julia, thank you so much for your eloquent comment that beautifully illustrates the post’s central theme. I’m so glad you’ve found a more hospitable home.