Friday, April 25, 2014

Cliven Bundy & my last Klan rally

For reasons pertaining to the preservation of my sanity, I’ve pretty much ditched watching either of the opinion news networks on the right or the left. I’m convinced the only way they thrive is to keep their viewers angry and stupid.
Stupid I can do all on my own. In fact, what’s truly surprising is that I’m not by now my own cable network. There’s an enormous appetite for televised stupidity and I’ve for years been at it 24/7
And I have no desire to import disruptive anger. So I don’t need Sean Hannity nor Rachel Maddow to nourish my outrages. But I do my best to remain aware of national news and whatever is causing the minds of the political extremes to fester.
That’s how I became aware of Cliven Bundy’s desert defiance of the federal government. He’s become a right wing darling for, in effect, putting his own Tea Party spin on what Woody Guthrie said nearly 70 years ago when he so joyfully proclaimed, “This land is your land! This land is my land!”
For purposes of grazing his cattle for free on federal lands upon which his neighbors willingly pay taxes, Bundy seized on just the second half of the couplet and sang, “This land is my land! This land is my land!” and kept repeating it over and over until Fox and the lunatic right began to hum along.
We should have seen what happened next when it was reported that Bundy is from Bunkerville, Nevada.
More like Archie Bunkerville.
Because weeks after Hannity, Rand Paul, Rick Perry and other leading Republicans feted Bundy for his embrace of liberty, Bundy revealed he’s a bit picky about to whom he extends those God-given liberties he so reveres.
He said “the Negro” should be returned to slavery again. For their own good!
Oh, boy, I’d pay to watch Fox News if they’d sponsor a town hall meeting of Bundy making those remarks on any street corner in South Central L.A.
The GOP is struggling to connect with blacks. Who would have thought some of their members think applying stout shackles are the wisest way to do so? In fact, Bundy said he often wonders if African Americans were better off picking cotton and enjoying simple down home plantation family life.
I think if Fox were really interested in extending the reach of Rupert Murdoch’s favorite party it would give its hardcore viewers an opportunity to watch all of Alex Haley’s “Roots” for a fresh perspective.
Bundy has drawn militia patriots who enjoy Ted Nugent music for reasons that have nothing to do with melody or lyrical cleverness and who often exceed Bundy in their zeal to “help” blacks, Mexicans, Jews, Catholics and other non-rednecks find their place in America. 
Hint: it ain’t no where near America.
They are the faces of hate.
It’s a face I most vividly recall from being about an inch from mine back in, I think, 1987, when I was covering my last Klan rally. That was back when I was a reporter for the once-great, now-gone Nashville Banner.
I’ll never forget asking this great big, robed Bubba if he’d answer some questions about why he was there.
He wheeled on me like a rabid Rottweiler. He got right in my face and just began screaming profane hatred at me.
I remember thinking, man, this dude must be color-blind. I mean, hey, I was white!
Still am!
Maybe he thought I was a Jewboy. Or maybe he insightfully sensed I’d one day years later write about happy little book advocating using all the crayons when if I cared at all about racial purity my book would be called, “F••• All Those Other Colors! Just Use The White Crayon!”
It was very disturbing. It wasn’t even because I was a nosy reporter.
I think it was just because he knew I wasn’t one of them.
Of course, the faces of hatred aren’t all that rare and that’s not why I remember his so well.
I remember this particular Klansman because mere moments later I saw on him the face of pure rapture.
The transformation was stunning. You’d think he’d have just seen Jesus wink at him. But, no, it was all because he was hearing the Grand Dragon amplify his hatreds to the crowd. He was just overjoyed, beaming, to hear someone talk the kind of talk we this week heard from Bundy. He looked as happy as any man I’ve ever seen.
I remember thinking, man, I’ll bet I don’t look that happy when I have a ready erection and a nearby woman who might give the thing some attention.
I do not dispute that men like him and Bundy share a genuine love for America, but men like them will never be able to temper what is in essence a love-hate relationship.
They do indeed love America.
It’s just that simultaneously hate the part of America that stipulates they must share it with lousy bastards like you and me who disagree with them and their mangled interpretations of what it all really means.

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