America: Home of the Freely Intolerant and Bravely Prejudiced

Fair & Balanced graphic used in 2005

Image via Wikipedia

Last week my husband turned down a work opportunity that would have relocated us to the Gulf Coast in either Texas or Louisiana. Horrorifically hot, humid weather aside, what truly renders both locales less than optimum from a residential standpoint has far more to do with politics, religion and stupidity than anything else.

Having been born and raised in the Midwest, I find the US’s deep south perplexing and more than a bit backward redneck anyway. The East/West Coasters may make fun of those of us in the “fly-over” states, but we have more common sense than the rest of the country as a whole and though we aren’t as “cosmopolitian” we also aren’t as steeped in “isms” as they think. That distinction is reserved for The South.

Neither Rob nor I care much for the weather here. It’s too cold for too long and our summers are hit and miss. A warmer climate is a powerful attraction  and has a selling point, but after the last few weeks of observing the increasingly noxious Republican primary and its pungent political fallout – there is really no question of subjecting ourselves or our impressionable young daughter to the  sexism, racism and police state mentality that is rapidly filling in the empty core of  America’s values, which were of dubious quality to begin with.

First take the GOP mud match to the nomination. We actually watched a few of the debates, which always begin with the candidates introducing themselves as if they were on a game show. In their spiels they rattled off their religious credentials, martial status and ticked off progeny like contestants at a Mister or Missus America pageant. Only Ron Paul had the grace and sense to smile self-deprecatingly as he did so, but I got the feeling that he was the only one who realized just how meaningless the whole thing was in light of what is truly at stake.

Religion increasingly has become a cornerstone on which everything rests. Despite the fact the Founders specifically tried to avoid building a new country on any specific faith tenets, the US seems committed, at this point, to becoming some sort of theocracy, which wouldn’t be such a horrifying prospect if the proponents of the idea weren’t hell bent on embracing every archaic, intolerant and prejudiced idea ever written in the Old Testament. Their ideas on women are Medieval and I won’t be at all surprised, given their new strident opposition to contraception, if they don’t soon decide that each municipality set up red tents on the outskirts and insist that menstruating women start using them. I’m not kidding. That’s about the only aspect of femaleness that Conservatives haven’t voiced a bat-shit crazy opinion on and I am sure it’s coming. After all, the use of tampons is ripe for euphemism and condemnation, don’t you think?

And the racism thing. Back during the 2008 Democratic primary, I commented that Obama’s victory over Clinton was only proof that when faced with two “evils”, Americans would go with the lessor. Clearly they were less racist than sexist and given the recent Komen debacle followed by the Catholic Bishops’ hissy fit about contraception, sexism is still in the lead, but racism is not far behind.

The irrantional attacks on the President, which are based on nothing factual, are so obviously about his being black. And it’s not like the guy doesn’t have obvious and glaring flaws – his whole-hearted endorsement of the police state thing for starters – but his “critics” insist on concentrating their ire on issues that aren’t or issues that are the result of something the last President (or even the one before him) should own.

Over the weekend, singer Whitney Houston died. Poor thing. Why is it that the most fragile and least able to cope end up rich and famous? Drowned in a hotel bathtub, according to the speculation. Xanax, booze and hot water shouldn’t be mixed. Xanax is an evil little drug that really shouldn’t be as widely prescribed as it is. Incredibly addictive. Not something a “former” cokehead should be allowed to take unsupervised in any case.

But her death provides an excellent example of my point about racism in America being very much alive and probably as stinky as it ever was. The Fox News site posted a story on Houston’s death. Just the facts, m’am and oh my god, the comments. The “N” word abounds and any racial stereotype you care to recall spews forth in comment after comment. 5000 of them.

Because she was black, and because she was a “she” and not a “he”. I am sure Michael Jackson didn’t provoke as much prejudice ire, protected a bit more by his gender.

We can’t raise Dee in a country so openly hostile to women and minorities. Nor could either of us stomach living in areas of the country that are far more open with their contempt and close-minded attitudes.

Rob remembers vividly from their time living in Kansas in the early ’90’s, the difficulty of being open-minded and not particularly religious. Texas and Louisiana are a lot farther south. Texas couldn’t be less tolerant of equality and there is no way we could allow Dee to go to school in a state that doctors non-fiction textbooks with fiction. Louisiana is even worse. The public school system might as well be scrapped entirely as under-funded as it is. Rob knows no one at the plant there who sends their children to the local public schools*. Private schools flourish down there for good reason.

And Dee isn’t the slightest bit Christian. Which is a problem if we are looking to live in areas that are mindlessly so and rabid in their quest to convert the “heathens”. While Rob and I can easily withstand the pressure and even the disdain. It would be harder for Dee, who is quite stubborn but just as sensitive.

I find it all rather sad that my native land has become a place where I can’t raise my daughter, and it’s not that Canada is without issues. People here are prejudiced too and probably more so than they are sexist (that exists simply because we are humans in a world with a long history of sexism), but it doesn’t invade the politics to the same extent. It’s also actively frowned upon whereas in the US, anymore, that’s not really the case. Being anti-female, in fact, seems almost to be a prerequisite for public office and is certainly not discouraged among the Evangelical Christian set or the conservative minded where public policy is concerned.

I was raised small town Iowa Catholic. I was taught that as a girl I had “a place” in society and in my church. That place was one of subservience and I was mostly supposed to be silent and accepting because some things just were the way they were. God willed it so.

But I never accepted that and I was increasingly less silent as I grew up. Now, I am not silent at all. Men have no business or right mucking about in aspects of femaleness that they couldn’t understand even if they cared to try. Women should actively resent and rebel against this meddling and the mindset that implies that women are dirty in some unspeakable way and that we are too dumb to be left in charge of ourselves. Because that is what it gets down to. Religion long ago, and for purposes of control/power, deemed women dirty and dumb. The politics of contraception are just another avenue of this prejudice that evolved purely to benefit men and to allow them to be dominant at the expense of everything and everyone.

Poor America. The rest of the world is waking up and catching up. Soon the only countries it will have anything in common with will be third world theocracies and dictatorships and that will be a sad day indeed.

*Although I will grant you that some of the reason that the “elite” there send their kids to private school isn’t academically driven. They want better educational settings to be sure but they also don’t want their kids going to schools where black children are half or better of the student populations.

2 responses to “America: Home of the Freely Intolerant and Bravely Prejudiced

  1. Your * was spot on and, if you hadn’t said it, I would.

    To further your statement about sexism and the 2008 election…the sexist GOP honestly thought Sarah Palin was an ideal VP candidate – because she was pretty and charming – which just goes to show what rich, white men think of women. I’m so thoroughly disgusted with my own country right now, I don’t have any idea where to start talking about it.

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