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Archive for Saturday, October 25, 2008

A view from Fake America

October 25, 2008

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Excuse me while I say a few words on behalf of us Fake Americans.

Not that I really think of myself as such. I mean, here in Fake America, life proceeds much as it does in Real America. We are raising our kids and paying our taxes, trying to keep up with the dishes in the sink, going to the movies now and then. In fact, if you didn't know better, you'd never realize our America was Fake.

But envoys of Real America keep insisting that it is. As in Sarah Palin, who declared at a recent rally in North Carolina what a joy it was to be in one of the "pro-American" parts of America. And Nancy Pfotenhauer, a top aide to Sen. John McCain, who recently proclaimed his popularity in the "real Virginia," i.e., everything south of the state's Democratic-leaning Washington, D.C. suburbs, the area McCain's brother, Joe, calls "communist country." Meantime, North Carolina Rep. Robin Hayes told a crowd "liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God."

This line of attack is hardly new. Several years ago I met a woman who insisted Hollywood is not the Real America - as if nobody in the Real America ever bought a ticket to "Spider-Man 3" or watched an episode of "American Idol." But though the tack is an old one, it is being used with renewed ferocity by the GOP here in the closing days of Decision '08. Having failed to sway a sufficient portion of the electorate with other arguments, the Republicans now seek to stir Real Americans to anger against fake ones.

As near as I can tell, you are a Fake American if you live in a big city. Or on the coasts (Gulf Coast excepted). Or shop at any store ritzier than Wal-Mart. Or worship at a mosque. Or hold a college degree (Bible colleges excepted). Or - most important of all - espouse any ideology that is not hardcore social conservatism.

It's ridiculous that this needs saying, but: Fake Americans are Americans. And if we disagree with so-called Real Americans politically, our passion is nevertheless rooted in the same place theirs is. Love of country.

Many Real Americans won't believe that. For them, love of country and social conservatism are inextricably linked, one and the same. Me, I don't care for the straitjacket of ideology, preferring the freedom to accept or reject ideas on their merits. So when social conservatives championed, say, individual accountability and responsible fatherhood, I was happy to join them. But that was back when I knew what conservative meant.

Years later, I find that no I longer do, if I ever did.

Nor am I alone. Consider all the prominent conservatives breaking with the GOP lately. Consider in particular Colin Powell, staunch Republican and American icon, decrying a party he says has become "narrower and narrower" in its approach. Indeed, what does it say about the party's drift toward incoherence and demagoguery that this elder felt a need to remind the faithful - in the face of ever more strident, ever more naked bigotry - that Muslims serve this country too, love this country too, die for this country too.

The narrowness Powell condemns has seldom been plainer or meaner. To a degree, I understand the anger of Real Americans; they are often treated with condescending dismissiveness by the rest of us. After all, "flyover country" is only a funny term if you don't live in flyover country.

But cultural chauvinism on the one hand doesn't excuse hatemongering on the other. In their headlong, ends-justifies-the-means pursuit of victory, some conservatives have forgotten, betrayed and sacrificed the very ideals that supposedly defined them, one of the most important of which was simply this: decency.

As I said, I don't know who they are anymore. But you know what's worse? Apparently, they don't either.

- Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald.

Comments

Corey Williams 6 years, 1 month ago

Tom is all about misdirection."Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

camper 6 years, 1 month ago

Regarding Pitts' article. I agree with him regarding his demogoguery comparison. Not even the media can put a spin on it because you can watch live un-cut clips. The tone of the campaign is repulsive to me and it reminds me of something like McCarthyism. I am amazed that we seem to be travelling down that road again considering that we've already "been there, done that". Starting with Joe Six pack, to Joe the plumber, to the amazing careless choice of Sarah Palin, this campaign is nothing short of dumbfounding. Perhaps It would be funny if it were not so troubling.

scott3460 6 years, 1 month ago

Little more than a week before Palin skulks back to Alaska so that she and Todd can continue their efforts to secede from the Union. Six months from now she will be nothing more than a mildly humourous answer to a trivia question. McCain, bush, Cheney, Palin......all goners. Let them spout off all they like.....the American people are about to speak in a voice loud enough to drown out their failed and pathetic blatherings.

BuffyloGal 6 years, 1 month ago

Looks to me like Pitts also watches The Daily Show. Same message, without Rob Riggle on the bus.

Corey Williams 6 years, 1 month ago

She could do that, and probably will, but it won't do her any good in 2012 if the republican party is smart. When they lose this year, they need to get back to their roots of small government and low taxes. Forget the distractions of abortion, same sex marriage, etc, etc and get back to the roots of what made them a party.

Godot 6 years, 1 month ago

Das just perfectly described Biden.

beatrice 6 years, 1 month ago

Actually, Tom's boy was Rudy Guiliani, and we know how he is doing. foodboy, if Palin does what you suggest, she will be little more than a Pat Buchanan with lipstick. Can you seriously imagine her taking part in the Republican debates during the primaries? Neither can I. Republicans took great umbrage and cried foul when they accused Democrats of picking on people in small towns when questions were asked about whether Palin's time as mayor of a very small town was enough experience for the position she sought. However, they apparently don't mind calling Americans who live in cities "fake" and not "pro-American." Well, people in cities, fake or not, do vote. The Republicans deserve to lose, and lose big in the coming election.

Ralph Reed 6 years, 1 month ago

Lot's of arguing back and forth, but little comment on the content of Pitts' article.*(Pitts) "But envoys of Real America keep insisting that it is. As in Sarah Palin, who declared at a recent rally in North Carolina what a joy it was to be in one of the 'pro-American' parts of America. And Nancy Pfotenhauer, a top aide to Sen. John McCain, who recently proclaimed his popularity in the 'real Virginia,"' i.e., everything south of the state's Democratic-leaning Washington, D.C. suburbs, the area McCain's brother, Joe, calls 'communist country. Meantime, North Carolina Rep. Robin Hayes told a crowd 'liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God.'**Palin's announcement that I am not pro-America stunned me, but not nearly as much as her mea culpa, 'Wait, this is what I meant to say yesterday.'My wife and I both work hard. We believe in God, just not your evangelical "You're going to burn forever because you don't believe the way I do" God.Like Pitts I support individual responsibility (which doesn't happen much on the LJW forums) and responsible fatherhood. I also used to understand what conservatism meant. I don't any more.I the end, I agree with Pitts' statement from his article."In their headlong, ends-justifies-the-means pursuit of victory, some conservatives have forgotten, betrayed and sacrificed the very ideals that supposedly defined them, one of the most important of which was simply this: decency."This works not only on a national level, but also close to home where people are cyberstalked and threatened as a result of writing something with which someone else disagrees.***I'm me. Who are you behind your hood of anonymity?

Mixolydian 6 years, 1 month ago

Can the LJ World please stop publishing commentary from the far extremes? Leonard Pitts beats up on strawmen and Cal Thomas cowers in fear of them.It's getting tiresome. All they do is bring out the trolls for your comment sections so you can sell more web advertising at a higher rate.

Gareth Skarka 6 years, 1 month ago

So, Tom -- how's your boy McCain doing?Just askin'.

Gareth Skarka 6 years, 1 month ago

Hey Tom -- didja notice that Sarah "American Taliban Christian Nutjob" Palin had "overwhelming approval ratings" in a state that has only about six times as many people as the small town you live in?Wow -- some achievement. You betcha! wink!

tonythetiger 6 years, 1 month ago

that was pretty amazing.It is hard for me to believe that there are people that actually believe the way he does.

Phil Minkin 6 years, 1 month ago

scott3460 (Anonymous) says: Little more than a week before Palin skulks back to Alaska so that she and Todd can continue their efforts to secede from the Union. Six months from now she will be nothing more than a mildly humourous answer to a trivia question. McCain, bush, Cheney, Palin::all goners. Let them spout off all they like:..the American people are about to speak in a voice loud enough to drown out their failed and pathetic blatherings.I hope you are right, but there is a possible frightening scenario that after her term, she goes on the lecture circut(ala Reagan) and becomes a cult figure of the right. She polishes her act, raises a butload of $$ and is a major player in the 2012 primary. She could become the female, right wing Huey Long. Be afraid, be very afraid.

camper 6 years, 1 month ago

Gareth, maybe McCain is "palin around" with G. Gordon Libby or his Keating 5 buddies.

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