Monday, August 8, 2011

Southern Dispatch

As a native Southerner, I sometimes point out to friends from other parts of the country that racism and idiocy are alive and well in throughout the USA (e.g., the New York Republican congressional candidate who wrote an essay denouncing interracial relationships), and that the South is a far cry from what it used to be (for example, a lesbian Latina is sheriff of Dallas County, Texas).

But reading the news from down South, I've been forced to admit that during this growing season the most popular crop seems to be craziness. Last Saturday Texas governor Rick Perry held his "national day of prayer" in Houston. The avowed goal was to invoke God's help for America, which I imagine will do about as much for the economy as a planned prayer walk on Aug. 21 will do for test scores in Jacksonville, FL public schools. Most pundits speculate his prayer rally is a bid to win over the evangelical base prior to announcing a presidential run. I find it odd that Perry would want to be president of a nation he has previously been in favor of dismantling. Nevertheless, he mightily impressed fundamentalists nationwide. One attendee said, "I feel that God moved him to do this." Another said, "He showed that he's sensitive to the Lord's leading." And Perry brought a choice bunch to Houston to bolster his evangelical credentials: members of the American Family Association, a Tupelo, Mississippi-based band of lunatics political organization that never seems to have grasped the principal of separation of church and state.

Among Rick Perry's other partners in godliness: a self-proclaimed 'apostle' who thinks the Statue of Liberty is a pagan idol, and a former seminary faculty member who thinks this year's earthquake in Japan was caused by the emperor having sex with a sun goddess.

I was pleased that some young Texans showed up to protest Perry's open-air madhouse, but I fear they were outnumbered by the true believers.

In other news, I found this depressing pie chart that shows how much we owe the recent stalemate in Congress and the resulting Faustian bargain to lunatics from the South. The Tea Party likes to present itself as a national movement, but here's a breakdown of members of the Tea Party Caucus by where they come from:

Why do I suddenly feel like it's 1832 all over again?

Meanwhile, in Missouri—one of the quaintly termed "border states" during the Late Unpleasantness (my favorite name for the Civil War), a school board has seen fit to remove two books from the school library and reading assignments. One of the titles, "Slaughterhouse Five," is a perennial target of censors. Interestingly, many object to the book for its profanity and not for its central event, the 1945 fire bombing of Dresden by Allied forces.

Note for visitors to the South: swearing is bad, killing is okay. And some young people in Mississippi have taken that message to heart.

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