There are lies, and then there are lies. My mother, repressed soul that she is, committed a lie of omission that left me terrified for several of my youthful years. According to my mother, I had to get married before I got pregnant, and I could get pregnant at any time.
She left out the part about sperm. And eggs. And fertilization. And having sex.
There were a lot of things my mother couldn’t explain to me adequately, and a lot more she never even tried to explain. She never tried to explain why her entire family went to church religiously (heh. Pun intended), as did my dad’s, but we didn’t. Instead, my sister and I went to every vacation bible school in the area during the summer.
As religious education goes, VBS isn’t too bad. In fact, it mostly goes against the fiery sermons held upstairs in the nave. In VBS, I sang “Jesus loves the little children (red and yellow black and white, they are precious in his sight)” a lot — at every church. I guess Jesus doesn’t love adults of every color — just the children.
Later, I learned that because my mom and dad came from two very different protestant denominations, they were anathemitized by their respective churches. Lesson: Don’t ever let the Christianists tell you they’re all they same. They hate each other as much as they do us. But of course they do. They can’t ALL be the One True Way, which they all claim. It’s one big house of cards that would utterly collapse if they didn’t spend all their time focusing on the things outside themselves that they fear.
But this is about Right Wing Lies My Mother Believes. Like, she believes that Obama raised her taxes. Even when I show her on her tax forms how that’s not true, she gives me that blank look of someone who just heard something in a language she doesn’t understand and doesn’t care to.
My mother believes that George W. Bush was a great president, but when I point out that all the things she complains about — most having to do with her health care — originated on his watch, well, it’s that blank stare again.
I don’t know if she believes the president is a Muslim, or if he was born in Kenya. Wouldn’t surprise me. After all, my sister the Democrat had trouble voting for him because she heard he was Muslim.
There were no Muslim Vacation Bible Schools. Or Jewish ones either, for that matter.
My mom also buys into the “unemployment checks make you lazy” meme. Here, the right wing establishment has fostered a whole industry — the “you’re on your own” industry. Only lazy people get unemployment. Only lazy people who won’t work get food stamps. Government shouldn’t be in the business of propping up lazy people who won’t get off their fat asses and get to work. Better save that money to prop up fat assed dictators who do our outsourced torture for us.
How many applicants for each job opening are there now? Five? Ten? Fifty? One hundred? A thousand?
Let’s not even get started on the Mexicans who are taking all our jobs and using taxpayer money to better themselves. The horror. Oh, and they’re dangerous ne’erdowells too, out to cut you first chance they get. Not at all like the nice white boys who keep blowin’ up the trailer cookin’ meth.
And speaking of jobs, there’s the outrageous pension plans public employees have. Don’t make me laugh.
And just try explaining to her that the economic stimulus plan worked — as far as it went — and would have gone farther and worked better if not Republican obstruction. But then, my mother doesn’t remember hearing that the No. 1 item for Republicans in the next two years is not to better our country or to work for the common good, but to make sure the black guy doesn’t get re-elected.
Danny Goldberg penned this at The Nation last November, just after the election.
Almost half of the public is either misinformed or subject to unanswered right wing narratives. If I believed that there was a chance of Sharia law being imposed in the United States I too would be gravely concerned. If I believed that most Europeans and Canadians had inferior health care to that of average Americans, I too would be against health care reform. If I believed that man-made global warning did not exist or that there were nothing we could do about it and that environmental efforts were responsible for unemployment I’d be against cap and trade. If I believed that prisoner abuse would make my family significantly less likely to be killed by terrorists, my thinking about torture would be different. And if I believed that the problems with the economy had been caused by too much government instead of too little, that my personal freedom was threatened by the government instead of large corporations, I’d probably be in a tea party supporter and a Republican.
And my parents don’t even have cable, so they don’t watch Fox. They rarely listen to radio and wouldn’t know where or when Rush Limbaugh was on anyway. They have a regional newspaper, quite right wing, that most of the time can’t even get the bullshit itself right. But still, these things they believe.
Or don’t believe. Like, the United States military budget is more than that of the rest of the world combined. And still it can’t win wars. Y’know, the history of warfare is a history of radical change Soldier used to line up across the battlefield and then charge in to fight. Some of them even wore red coats. Quite visible, those. Battlefield strategy changed dramatically from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, and even more from the Civil War to World War I. I dunno, but I kinda think the best war strategy is not to have wars.
My mother is full of contradictions. Sending me to Vacation Bible School where I learned to love everyone, but warning me when they desegregated my elementary school that she didn’t mind if I talked to ‘em, but I shouldn’t hold their hands. I was fucking eight years old. Really? “Their” turned out to be “her” — one little girl. Most black people had the sense not to live where I come from. Even in the best of times, there are no jobs, unless you pay kickbacks to the pols, and it’s too tough in that rocky soil to even farm. My dad was a mechanic. People had to keep their cars running.
And despite my mother’s weird beliefs, somehow I ended up all right. Well, mostly all right. And, oddly enough, I pretty much ended up the way she wanted me to, although, I dare say, she wouldn’t admit to it.
She always said she wanted me to be happy, to find a job I like and do it well. And she told me to be careful about boys — they’re not very trustworthy — and alcohol.
Or, as that randy actress Tallulah Bankhead (did you know here father was Speaker of the House and that she was both niece and granddaughter to U.S. senators?) once said (say this in the most richly Deep South accent you can think of — ever so slightly a put on accent, since Tallulah was from Huntsville, Alabama, and not Montgomery):
My father warned me about men and booze, but he never mentioned a word about women and cocaine.