Thursday, November 3, 2016

Conversations with Grandma: A Guide to Racism and Baby Killers

I overheard a truly disturbing conversation with my ultra right wing "Catholic" Christian brother and my mother this evening, about racism and baby killers, in the presence of his kids. Both of them - my brother and my mother - are die hard, (pretty much "zealots" really) for their Catholic church and their corporate-servicing Republican party. This means the mere mention of the word "Democrat" (or "demo rat" as they like to call them) evokes instant nausea, anger, hatred, and disgust. (Pavlov and B.F. Skinner would be proud.)

Such a conditioned blanket stereotyping and response is pretty common where I come from, which is exactly what America's political propaganda machine is designed to produce. And although I know there are plenty of Democrats in America who have equally been conditioned like Pavlov's dog to have the same kind of reaction to the word "Republican," I just happen to be surrounded by the former and not the latter.

My mom is as Catholic as they come. Although she has the biggest heart in the world, she often accepts what her "religion" (which is both Catholic and Republican) spoon feeds her as unquestionably true; and any suggestions to the contrary are unquestionably lies. But if anyone ever generalized all Catholics as child-raping-mutilators (as Catholic priests and nuns were guilty of in the Netherlands in the 1950s), she would naturally object to being called such a horrible lie. She just doesn't feel that anyone who is a "Democrat" could ever actually be Pro Life, even if they do not want to give government more power than it already has.

Of course, being a Republican, she doesn't want to give the government any more power either, especially when it comes to healthcare, ironically enough (even though she collects Social Security and Medicare - oy vey!), and that is exactly the kind of brainwashing that our political propaganda ministry is designed to have on people. And with my mom, and my brother, it has worked hook line, and sinker. (They, of course, are convinced that it is anyone who disagrees with them that has actually been "brainwashed," which is also part of how all systems of "brainwashing" work. Everyone thinks everyone else has been brainwashed, but not us. The trick is to listen to what is being said by people, and decide for yourself.)

My brother is also a big "gun rights" guy. But if anyone ever suggested that his support for keeping guns "legal" (since he would never support the idea that they should be illegal) therefore means he is complicity responsible for all gun related murders in America, or even school shootings more specifically, he would naturally point out how ridicules such a claim is. But he has no problem blaming everyone who votes to legalize abortion as therefore being complicity responsible for all the "babies that die every year" because of abortion, even if they have never had an abortion and work full time for "pro-life" organizations 80 hours a week.   Instead, he simply equates all "Democrats" as "baby killers," even though there are plenty of "pro life" Democrats and pro-choice Republicans.

His brainwashing was displayed further by his willingness to similarly propagate the deliberate lie that Colin Kaepernick is protesting his OWN oppression, even though Kaep and countless others have repeatedly clarified that their protest is aimed at police brutality and racism more generally. "Brainwashing," in this sense, is evident in the willingness to simply parrot back the very lies that countless Conservative pundits have deliberately flooded into the public discourse about Kaep and his protest, and the unwillingness to consider - for even a single second - that Kaep is in fact protesting something completely different than what Conservatives accuse him of. There is no greater form of "brainwashing" then this, IMO.

It also comes from a larger unwillingness to ever consider any evidence, let alone actually engage in any intellectual effort, to challenge a perspective that has been built as much on fairy tales of American exceptionalism, as it as been "white"washed of the horrors and systemic racism described in Douglas Blackmon's book Slavery By Another Name. (There are countless other books out there that explore the nature of such brutality up to the present day - read anything by Tim Wise or Michelle Alexander, for example - but Blackmon's book lays out in gruesome heart breaking detail the prototype for what would eventually become today's Prison Industrial Complex.)

For die hard Conservatives who prefer to believe they are "right" about their beliefs, far more than they have any concern for understanding what is actually "true" about the world around them, or those they so casually malign, such books amount to pure propaganda. Again, that is how "brainwashing" works, by convincing adherents of a particular religious belief (in this case, the religion of Conservative Republicanism) that all historical "facts" that challenge their own sacred world view are necessarily lies and "propaganda," while all of the propaganda they feed off of exclusively is pure, undiluted "truth," as if spoken to them by God himself.

But perhaps the greatest example of just how effective such Conservative brainwashing can be (and of course, there is just as much "Liberal" brainwashing going on as well - which I will explore in a later post) comes from the comment by John Fugelsang, when he adroitly pointed out that, “Only in America can you be pro-death penalty, pro-war, pro-unmanned drone bombs, pro-nuclear weapons, pro-guns, pro-torture, pro-land mines and still call yourself pro-life.” And that describes my brother to a "T."  Praise the Lord and pass the holy hand grenades.

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