Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Abandonment Of Country

Salon's Joan Walsh offers a critique of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?” by Pat Buchanan, with whom she periodically clashes on MSNBC. Buchanan, as one would expect, attributes an increase in blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and Jews and a declining birth rate among whites to what he believes is a precipitous decline of the United States of America.

Buchanan's preference for Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants of the Caucasian variety, coupled with discomfiture at a multi-ethnic society, is of long-standing. Nor is it especially significant- though rather ironic- that an American conservative who loathes "political correctness" and embraces the nation's European origins would be so pessimistic about the survival of Europe, which he slams for its influx of Muslims, decline of Catholicism (which he conflates with Christianity), and acceptance of abortion. (This is Pat Buchanan, remember.)

Significantly, though, Walsh notes "It’s Buchanan and his Tea Party friends who’ve given up on the idea of America." She explains

I can’t imagine giving up on my country, my party and even my religion, just because the people who had come to share it didn’t quite look like me. I take this book seriously because I owe a certain debt to Pat Buchanan. Doing television with this infamous Irish Catholic conservative, I began to reflect seriously for the first time on the vision of America I grew up with. It was handed to me by my parents, working-class Irish Catholics who believed in e pluribus unum – that those words made their inclusion possible, and they would stretch forward to make sure the civil rights movement accomplished its goals, too.

They took seriously the promise of America – that a nation composed of the world’s cultures and religions could be stronger than the sum of its parts, indivisible – and so do I. Pat Buchanan doesn’t.

Buchanan, writing unashamedly of "the back of the bus" and high abortion rates among Jewish women (this is Pat Buchanan, remember), is merely more forthright than most on the right. But the strong inference that America has been taken over by other sorts of people (to Pat Buchanan, racial or ethnic upstarts; to the likes of Rush Limbaugh, middle- and lower- income people) is endemic to modern-day conservatism.

The tea party brought this sense of paranoia to the fore. However, it is one seemingly embraced by other Republicans, favorites of the tea party or not. There is a parallel to Herman Cain's new ad (video, below) now famous for its depiction of chief of staff Mark Bloch taking a puff on a cigarette, followed by a glowing smile from the candidate. (That is another issue for another time; or maybe not.) At the close of the ad, Bloch states "Together, we can do this. We can take America back."

Take America back. From whom? Where did it go? And when did it go there?

Presumably, the message is: those mean old liberals hijacked our country. Now we're going to yank it away and exile them to purgatory, or worse.

But who decreed that conservatives were no longer a part of the nation now that they're out of power- or, rather, no longer run the whole show? Certainly not liberals or Democrats, who do not suggest that the U.S.A. belongs only to one group. But conservatives demand total control- they are the rightful heirs of the land handed down to them by the Founding Fathers.... with no death tax, of course. And if they can't control it, they'll pronounce it alien until they can "take America back."

Contrast this with the message of Occupy Wall Street: we are the 99%. We're in this together- even the remaining 1%, as long as they play by the rules which the rest of us do. It is a message, as Walsh puts it, of e pluribus unum- out of many, one. And it is an inclusive message intrinsic to this nation's character, even if abhorrent to today's right wing.


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