10 Things That Would Enrage the Right-Wing if They Were Introduced Now
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Boogeymen are everywhere these days, if you believe the conservatives' Perpetual Paranoia Machine. A few years ago, WorldNetDaily and the American Family Association warned that Barney the Dinosaur was trying to "surreptitiously indoctrinate young children into [homosexuals'] lifestyle." Then, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly warned that "secular progressives" were waging a "War on Christmas" and pressing the "legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will [and] gay marriage." Now, schools are busy banning books for their "filthy" messages, while Fox and Friends warns that SpongeBob is leading a sinister plot to convert kids to Al Gore's eco-crusade.
Welcome to America at the edge of insanity, where even the most innocuous items are now considered diabolical threats to the culture.
Exceptions like "Slaughterhouse Five" aside, the products that generate the most manufactured outrage and hysteria today tend to be new -- puppets, celebrities' vanity tomes, cartoons and other detritus in our cultural waste dump. However, it stands to reason that if the same Perpetual Paranoia Machine applied its standards of manufactured outrage across the board, it would end up targeting many of the most long-standing "American" symbols for elimination.
Pondering which of those symbols is an important thought experiment -- it locates our relative position on the psychological map, telling us just how extreme our sociopathy is at this moment of chaos. So without further ado, here are the top 10 most universally "American" symbols that would be labeled as seditious, unpatriotic anti-American agitprop if they had been first introduced today.
10. The Collected Works of Dr. Seuss
For most of the last half-century, being a kid meant reading and loving the collected works of Theodor Seuss Geisel -- aka Dr. Seuss. Think back to your earliest years, and you are likely to recall Geisel's legendary catalog. His works are as integral to American childhood as fireworks on July 4 -- and thankfully, Geisel published his books before the advent of Fox News. For if this New Deal liberal had published them today, they would likely be burned in televised Tea Party rallies.
For example, 1957's "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" -- which criticizes the commercialization of the holiday season -- would be held up by Bill O'Reilly as an example of the vicious War on Christmas. Likewise, 1971's "The Lorax," which is a parable about the downsides of hyper-industrialization and environmental degradation, would be at least as viciously denigrated as Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth." And had 1984's "The Butter Battle Book" been introduced during the "War on Terror," it would have gotten Dr. Seuss put on a no-fly list and labeled a seditious, al-Qaida-loving traitor.
9. The Golden Rule
Treat others as you would want them to treat you. This idea, which undergirds the concept of human rights, is as old as organized religion, and is a proud basis for America's dominant Judeo-Christian traditions. In the Old Testament, scripture says to "love thy neighbor as thyself," while New Testament says "Do to others as you would have them do to you" -- and we teach this to kids at the earliest age.
But had someone published these words for the first time today, that person would seem like a radical left-wing ideologue. After all, America is a country whose definition of "class warfare" is making the rich pay the same tax rates as everyone else. It is a nation that gets angry at leaders who suggest redistributing some of the wealth.
In the context of that me-first-screw-everyone-else culture, and in the context of drone warfare, rendition, torture, warrantless wiretapping, Wall Street predation and budget cuts to social services, the Golden Rule would be vilified as a Marxist idiom -- and its proponents would, at best, be depicted as coffeehouse communists who refuse to live in the real world. More likely, they'd be attacked as unpatriotically justifying blowback against the United States for our military actions across the world.