"Drop me a note or post as a diary or article or a series of stories on how to love a right winger," was my editor's latest light bulb of insanity, "Oh, and have a great day."
Love a right winger? Have a great day? Sure, no problem. Editors get their kicks in life by handing out impossible assignments to their army of helpless scribblers. And I just got mine.
OK, first one needs to start the day on the operating table, preferably with health insurance. You will need a lobotomy! But don't worry about lunch. With cognition ripped from your mental capacity, you'll have no complaints about lunch. Even the spinach! As for the sadistic nurses chatting away down the hall and ignoring your screams and incoherent begging -- what is left of your brain feels like it is being blowtorched -- no problem. Morality doesn't exist for you anymore, like it never existed for those nurses. Without the ability to think, your ability to make moral judgments has vanished.
But look at the good side. This opens up some interesting ramifications. Feelings such as compassion and empathy and love are now nonexistent. Thoughts like justice and freedom and progress are completely gone. You're no longer bothered by those things. You are now free! You are in the Land of the Free!
Within a week of your liberating lobotomy, you will have a stern handler leading you around the grounds of your new and very limited mental compound. You will learn to love the rough talk of your "brother." Although unable to understand why, you will accept everything wrong is your fault and that you need to be punished. And most important, you will accept without question -- no problem, since you can no longer question -- there is a compassionate and loving god who is thinking about you. Sure God is a hard if not brutal, will zap your entire family if you ever have the slightest sliver of the thought maybe God isn't always so nice, but you know "" although knowing is not really possible anymore -- God is always fair.
I'm sure that by this point you are following right along with me and understanding how we can love right-wingers. Simply cut yourself off from your humanity. This can be done on a hospital operating table or in a church pew or on the sofa watching FOX News. They all wield razor-sharp scalpels to reduce you to a beast in the forest of society.
In America today, separation from what makes us human is not really a problem -- well, for half of Americans. That half obsessed with religion and babbling on and on about Jesus Christ while getting their straightjacket propaganda through an ideological straw on one dimwitted TV channel. These are the Americans who year after year are successful "" stunningly successful, I should add -- in separating themselves from brain and morality as they walk around in a daze of hate and sh*t-eating smiles.
And now you know why Red America is called Red America. It's from the blood of the American operating table.
It's early and I'm sitting at a corner table in a nearly empty cafÃ©. Nearby eleven men sit around several tables pulled together. The discussion circles the table, each man given an opportunity to speak. Speak about what? Speak about what they should pray for. One man wants everyone to pray for his neighbor, who is having financial and emotional problems. Another man wants them to pray for a woman who is going to Africa as a missionary. Another man, sitting at the top of the table and who appears to be the discussion leader, complains the IRS is hounding him. I guess he wants everyone to pray the IRS is quickly vaporized. Eventually all eleven men bow their heads and pray.
"I used to think, getting here at 7 AM, wow!" a short man with a black mustache says in obvious distaste, "Now I run here every morning!"
"We are all in the same trial and tribulations," says a heavy set man with tan baseball cap pulled low. "We are together in this, brother!"
"God is always here," another man says.
What I find most upsetting about these men is they look so normal, sound rational, even articulate. I can't see their lobotomies! No scares on the outside, only devastation on the inside.
"Do you believe in Jesus Christ?" a man dressed in a suit with a Marine Corps lapel pin asks walking past me. I look into his glowing blue eyes. "If the Lord tells you to do something--"
"I'm a heathen, sir." I snap back in nasal New York accent. "And I like it. Good day!"
As the men file into their cars, on the left side of each of their bumpers is a yellow and red sticker: "Huckabee for President."
South Carolina is the epicenter of the lobotomized. How do I know that? Nearly half of the population, more than any other state in our country, is evangelicals. I understand that I sound rather intolerant, but intolerance comes from fear. I fear for my country. I fear theocracy is around the corner. I fear another "God-fearing" president who will send young Americans afraid of dying to another unnecessary, immoral war to die. I fear "the land of the free" will soon be the land of the slavery. I fear that all this is being led by the American South, by a religious movement separated from brain and morality, by a part of our country that is not really a part of our country. By a people who are unable to understand the words of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin -- that we need to stay out of other countries endless conflicts and we need to jealously guard our own freedoms at home. These people are dangerous aliens, and I fear them.
In South Carolina today is the Republican Primary. There are only three candidates. Forget Ron Paul, although loaded with money he is hardly here. Forget Mitt Romney, the Yankee business executive did not wear well in the business of the Southern God. The three are John McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Fred Thompson. They are the American super-patriotic, supposedly, the Southern minister, and the Southern good old boy. They are the warped warrior and scary preacher and weird actor "" all dangerously united that America needs, as those 11 men in cafÃ© said, "America needs to return to the ways of God."
But their God is an angry, vicious, stupid God. It's not surprising that those men in the cafÃ© possessed a terrifying unholy combination of fire in their eyes and a blowtorched mind. That they are certain they are right and God is their protector, that America is a battleground against absolute evil which is enveloping America. That this evil is attempting to steal their kids, an evil that at all costs must be crushed. That evil is, of course, you and me.
No, these fanatics are not satisfied with being "enlightened" by the words of God, they want to save America and cut your brain out and stomp every moral scruple gasping for a final breath. Yes, I fear them. And you should too!
So who will win today? I don't care. Yes I'm covering the campaign trail, or it's covering me as Michael Herr wrote about the Vietnam War. Iowa was certainly exciting. I still can't fully believe a Black man (well, half Black) won in a state that is 93 percent White! Is this a New America? Maybe! And New Hampshire was one outrageous, wild circus. The media out of control, voters are most intelligent and moral that I have ever met with outrageous demonstrations blanking Manchester. New Hampshire was American grassroots democracy at its best. Well, that's what I heard in the bars, anyway. Michigan was a blur. The older I get, the more I appreciate life as a blur. When the energy starts to dip, the brain kicks in. Thinking is good.
Now, however, it's the "First in the South," the South Carolina Primary. And I have lost my enthusiasm. McCain's religious obsession is war, winning the Vietnam War in Iraq. Huckabee says we need to amend the Constitution to make it conform to God's words. Thompson "" well, the worse thing about Thompson is he might wake up. It's hard to get excited about lobotomies campaigning for the presidency.
Yet, tonight I'm going to the Huckabee and Thompson South Carolina Primary Night blowouts. I'll be there, armed with truth, in my backpack I just might have my own blowtorch. And I will love every one of these right-winger religious nuts just to make my nutty editor happy. I'll be there, reporting from the epicenter of disaster and fear. Enjoying it all.