The Prohibitionists Are Back!
by Eric Margolis: Blundering
Forward in the Graveyard of Empires
I do a good
deal of writing and broadcasting for international media. But it’s
not always easy to explain the quirks of our vast, complex nation.
As a native
New Yorker, I try to explain how this great island metropolis off
the New Jersey coast is physically in America, but it’s not intellectually
or emotionally part of the United States.
New York is
cosmopolitan, educated, outward-looking and liberal – unlike much
of the rest of inward-looking America, which considers the Big Apple
a den of Godless moral depravity and a cesspool political vice.
New Yorkers look down on the rest of America (San Francisco, Chicago,
and the Pacific Northwest excepted) as "flyover country"
populated by rednecks, hicks, and holy rollers. Crude stereotypes,
of course, but there’s some substance to these nasty views.
While at a
base in Missouri during my Army service during the Vietnam era,
I quickly learned to keep my mouth shut about being a Manhattanite
after a sergeant asked me where I hailed from and then yelled out,
"hey, guys, we got one of those rich shits from New York."
I got pummeled by my brothers in arms from Arkansas and Alabama.
The last debates
by Republican presidential candidates disturbingly reinforced the
party’s lack of interest in or knowledge of the outside world.
Mitt Romney, pizza mogul Herman Cain, and Texas tough guy Rick Perry
barely mentioned world affairs, except to heap threats on the wicked
The same malevolent
Persians now stand accused of plotting to assassinate the Saudi
ambassador to Washington by using Mexican drug cartel hitmen organized
by a lame-brained used car salesman that strongly suggests the concocters
of this melodrama need some new scriptwriters.
One of our
dimmest members of Congress – I’m ashamed to say from New York –
Rep. Pete King, just called the Iranian-Mexican imbroglio an act
of war. On to Tehran!
When the Republican
candidates did mention the outside world, it was to proclaim their
undying loyalty to Israel, or to bluster, as Romney did, "the
21st century must be an American century." But no
mention of where the money would come from to keep the world in
the American Raj.
takes lots of hard cash to run a world imperium. Right now, Washington
has to borrow 40 cents of every dollar it spends from China and
the candidates had leveled with Americans and talked about the urgent
need for a war tax to pay for America’s foreign military operations
that are now piled onto the gargantuan national debt.
a slate of foreign affairs advisors drawn from the ranks of the
Bush administrations wildest Islamophobic neoconservatives, wanna
be West Bank settlers, and extreme right-wingers. The same crowd
that brought us Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and Iraq, and now beats
the war drums over Iran.
There was hardly
any mention of the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that are
bleeding America’s economy, or growing US military involvement in
Yemen and sub-Saharan Africa, as witnessed by President Barack Obama’s
announcement last Friday that 100 US special forces where being
sent to obscure places in Central Africa. On to Bangui! (where?)
macho chest-pounding over American greatness, some of the leading
candidates made monkeys of themselves when talking about the outside
a lifelong moderate Republican, I cringed with embarrassment at
these later-day Dan Quayles.
Rick Santorum, a darling of the religious far right, thought exiled
ex-Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf was still in power in Islamabad.
Michele Bachmann stumbled around all those strange foreign names
and seemed to be talking in tongues.
laughed off his own ignorance of foreign policy, making fun of the
name "Uzbekistan." Swaggering Texas governor Perry confused
India and Pakistan, both nuclear powers. Such stunning ignorance
provoked shudders of dismay abroad, but at home no one seemed to
become a sort of badge of honor among many heartland Republicans,
as witnessed by the popularity of the patron saint of lower IQ Americans,
education, being well read and, God forbid, speaking any foreign
language except Mexican Spanish or Hebrew, are only for leftists,
gays, and degenerate New York fops. Poor John Kerry never lived
down being branded by Republicans as looking "French."
Only two candidates
showed a firm grasp of world affairs: Rep. Ron Paul and former US
ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman. Paul is the most honest politician
in Washington. He calls for an end to America’s foreign wars, eliminating
the Federal Reserve bank, lowering America’s foreign profile and
rebuilding the run-down United States.
these heresies, Dr. Paul, who is hugely popular among the young
and independents, is systematically ignored or scorned by establishment
media, even during TV debates.
Mormon faith is demeaned by many Protestants as a "cult."
Romney is also a Mormon, a Church Elder and former missionary. Both
are unpopular with rightwing Christian Protestants. Cain is a Baptist
Both Paul and
Huntsman are far too moderate for Republican party core voters,
44% of whom are believed to be born-again Evangelicals.
As author Kevin
Phillips has documented, Republicans have become a theological party
of the Christian white far right in America’s heartland.These militant
Bible Belt born-again fundamentalists are ardent Zionists and backers
of America’s military-security establishment. One recalls the fateful
prediction of Sinclair Lewis,
fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying
today’s small town/rural/born-again Republicans closely resemble
and hail from the same roots as America’s Prohibitionist anti-drinking
movement of the 1920’s. Both today’s religious right and the Prohibitionists
were determined, Taliban-style, to punish sinful city dwellers for
having too much fun, as the devilish H.L. Mencken pointed out.
no one gets to be president by telling voters the hard facts they
prefer not to hear. Synthetic, flag-waving patriotism still sells
big in America’s heartland and rural south. More important, America’s
political tradition, electoral system and political-media establishment
will ensure that no candidate who strays from the party line is
looking at the latest crop of Republican candidates is pretty dismal.
president, the world’s most important leader, may believe that Earth
was created only 10,000 years ago, as the Bible says. He or she
may reject evolution and believes in Adam and Eve, and Noah’s Ark.
And believe, as do millions of Evangelicals, that Christ will return
once all Jews are gathered into recreated Biblical Israel and then
earth and its non-born again inhabitants will be destroyed by fire
sent by God.
I pray New
York City will be somehow saved.
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2011 Eric Margolis
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