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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/30/10

The Far Right and Perverting Patriotism

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Bill Hare
Message Bill Hare

Check American History and you will find that patriotism was defined and consisted of far different practices than occurred following World War Two.

It was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, an American leader the right maligned when he was in office and continued to malign after his death, who began the practice of singing the Star Spangled Banner at baseball games. This became a practice during the war to instill greater patriotism and love of country during a period of sacrifice.

During World War Two there was a spirit of patriotic unity based on inclusion. There was a task to be performed and by forming a common front and purpose the goal of victory became attainable.

Look what happened following World War Two. The two leaders, one deceased by then, who had been at the helm in the effort to thwart Nazi totalitarianism, Roosevelt and his successor Harry Truman, began to be reviled as disloyal Americans by the same type of intolerable right wing extremists that form today's Tea Party.

Two demagogues joined forces to turn Americans against each other and conquer by division, using the fear of nuclear confrontation amidst a Cold War to insist that conspiracy was afoot in America.

Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin was a shameless opportunist with strong penchants for power and alcohol, not necessarily in that order. He would stand on the U.S. Senate floor and hold up a piece of paper, insisting that a specified number of Communists were then members of the State Department.

The number continued to change and McCarthy had no answer when alert journalists questioned him about it.

When he ran out of Democrats to malign and President Dwight D. Eisenhower instructed Republicans not to cooperate with his headline hunting McCarthy Committee, he added on the four years of Eisenhower's first administration to the "twenty years of treason" he had earlier attributed to Democrats beginning with FDR's first term in office.

McCarthy ultimately drank himself to death, succumbing in 1957. His was the bitter death of the demagogue ultimately scourged, highlighted by a Senate censure vote against him in 1954 spearheaded by two Republican senators from New England, Margaret Chase Smith of Maine and Ralph Flanders of Vermont.

McCarthy's opportunistic cohort, who later abandoned him when he became unpopular, was Richard Nixon. Nixon was initially elected to Congress in 1946 in Whittier, the home district where he grew up, by impugning the loyalty of Congressman Jerry Voorhis, an ardent anti-Communist who was at the time a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Hungry for power, Nixon then was elected to the Senate in 1950. Once more mud was in the air as Nixon referred to his opponent, Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas, as "the pink lady."

Nixon, unlike McCarthy, ultimately reached the presidency, but like him destroyed himself through his own treacherous excesses. Watergate brought Nixon down through a sea of turbulent dirty tricks mindful of earlier campaigns in California.

In the sixties when Robert Welch led the John Birch Society, Senator McCarthy became a revered figure who had died a martyr's death at the hands of Communists, fellow travelers, and dupes.

Dwight Eisenhower was referred to in Welch's "historical and analytical" work "The Politician" as a "dedicated and conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy."

So when you see Tea Baggers wrap themselves in the flag and malign those who disagree with them as traitors or spineless dupes who know no better, recall the legacy from which theirs and other movements of the far right developed.

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Began in the journalism field in hometown of Los Angeles. Started as Sports Editor and Movie Writer at Inglewood Daily News chain after working in sportswriting of high school events at the Los Angeles Examiner.

Received a bachelor's in (more...)
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