February 21, 2012
I Thought My Grandfather Was Dead
By Bob Alexander
If my grandfather were alive, he would have watched Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor rally in 2010. Now I hear the tenets of the twisted Christianity he adhered to coming out of Rick Santorum's mouth. My grandfather's dead but his place has been filled by someone else who wants to take the country back.
::::::::My mom's step-dad was the only grandfather I ever knew. He was a short, stout, outwardly devout Christian and looked like a Norman Rockwell American straight from a cover of The Saturday Evening Post. He and the rest of Nixon's "Silent Majority" were taken completely by surprise by the 60's. The seemingly placid era of the 50's was turned upside down when Negroes forgot their place and demanded Civil Rights. The next thing he knew, young people defied authority and refused to support the war in Vietnam. Women suddenly seemed to lose their minds and wanted control over their own bodies. Clean-cut kids started growing their hair long, smoking dope, and having irresponsible sex. This deeply disturbed millions of Americans like my grandfather, who sincerely believed sex was only safely discussed within the confines of a Reader's Digest article.
I can understand his confusion and anger. At the end of World War Two there was only one colossus bestriding the globe -- and that was us.
We Won. And we got our Just Reward.
We were the biggest, and the baddest, and we had Gawd and The Bomb on our side. (Not necessarily in that order.) We had the factories and the money, we had the know-how, and no matter how you sliced it ... We Were The Good Guys. The United States could do just about anything ... and we were poised to do just that. All Americans had to do was go to work, cash their paychecks, and start buying the American Dream as advertised on their new television sets.
Just as my grandfather was getting accustomed to living in paradise, all hell broke loose. The aforementioned Negroes, Young People, and Equal-Rights-seeking Women were essentially telling him he could take his paradise and shove it up his ass because they had a different idea about where the country should go.
Grimly determined to keep his American dream, he didn't mind when they brought out the dogs and the fire hoses. When the cops attacked in Chicago, and the National Guard started shooting up Kent State ... he didn't mind at all. He wanted his country back. He wanted to go back to the time when We Had Won. He wanted to go back to the time when he didn't have to remember to say the word Negro, instead of the word he had used his entire life. He wanted to go back to the time when all the Women, Negroes, and Children did what they were told. He wanted to go back to Pleasantville, where Ozzie and Harriet and "The Beav" solved their problems in under a half hour because Father Knows Best in a black and white world.
The Republicans promised they'd get back that paradise for him and he supported them until the day he died.
Forty-some years ago, my friends and I seriously wondered how far our parents' and grandparents' generations would go to preserve their American Dream. When my friends talked about a revolution I'd take another toke off the joint making its way around the room and say there was no need for a revolution. All we had to do was wait just a little while longer and everything we wanted in a society would happen as if by magic.
As Jeffery Deaver wrote:
You can't see it, but it's always present.
Everybody standing in our way was going to die.
Some 45 years ago I became aware of the fact that the government of The United States was trying to kill me. I wasn't paranoid or anything. I mean I knew the government wasn't out to kill me personally. They just wanted to kill as many Vietnamese people as they could. And if it took killing tens of thousands of Americans to do it ... well, that's policy, not paranoia.
Since then I've been leery of, and tried to keep track of, my government's "policies." The truly horrendous ones, like the Vietnam War, were based on lies.
When I was a five years old, in my neighborhood in the yard of the house at the end of the block, lived a big mean ol' German Shepherd named Rex. Every time I walked by, Rex would be at the end of his rope, furiously barking and snarling, straining to murder. One day I walked by and noticed Rex's rope had broken, and there he was ... right in front of me ... free ... and growling.
The government's rope was seriously frayed when Ronald Reagan occupied the Oval Office, and completely snapped when The Supreme Court installed George W. Bush as president.
In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., " the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government" -- today roams the globe free and unfettered.
Trouble sleeping? Me too.