The Last Thing the Internet Needs Now


Moral Struggle Is Teh Suck
November 16, 2008, 8:39 am
Filed under: Politics | Tags:

(Uptighty ones: If you’re bothered by curse words, this contains some. You were warned in advance so don’t get all up in my face about it. Kthxbai).

Much has been written about Oklahoma’s sharp right turn in Election ’08, including by me, that the number-crunching and the whys and hows don’t really need to be reexamined. Yes, I live in a state that is out of step with the nation as never before. Yes, despite that HUGE negative, I generally like it here.

I have begun to feel a pull to pack up (despite how broke I am) and wish and hope that I can gain something like political asylum in a state like Oregon or Maryland or any other state that went Blue on November 4. I am still pretty heartsick that my state — a place that I love, despite the warts and boils — where I’ve lived for the biggest chunk of my 42 years is going to continue to be the object of ridicule, and all of us Oklahomans will be judged by the standard that we’re all ignorant religious nuts who are intolerant of diversity, unwilling to try new things, and deeply scared of change.

How do I tell people outside of our borders, “We’re not all like that!”

For instance, I have to share this great state with the likes of this individual, whose letter to the editor was published in Friday’s editions of The Oklahoman (I’ve redacted his name and didn’t post a link on purpose):

While watching the coverage of the presidential election returns, I was proud to be an Oklahoman. Our state was one of the first to turn red and thereby reject the extreme liberal policies and socialistic direction our nation seems to be taking. I never thought I’d live to see the day in which we would elect to the highest office in the land a man whose character resume has so many holes in it. Oklahoma, by a 2-to-1 margin, saw through the smokescreen of the national media and said no thanks.

“Character holes … ” ummm … let me guess, you’ve bought into the whole “Obama’s a Muslim and he associates with terrorists and he’s actually the Antichrist” bit, right?

I never thought I’d live to see the day that people who still think it’s perfectly okay to judge/demean/abuse a man because of the color of his skin or his origins would still be taken seriously enough to have their blather published in a newspaper. But wait, this *is* The Oklahoman. They’re still paying Jenni Carlson to write blather on the sports page.

Gov. Brad Henry was in Chicago celebrating with the crowd. Could there be any clearer picture as to how out of step he is with this great state? In two years when his term is finally over, and if he tries to advance his political career, I hope we will remember his true colors.

Did Brad Henry kick your puppy or something? “Extreme liberal policies” and “socialistic direction” and “Brad Henry” go together like milk and drain cleaner. There are people on my end of the political spectrum who think Henry’s a DINO. At best he’s a moderate. Either way, Oklahoma has seen some forward movement under Henry. But oh, wait, Oklahomans are afraid of forward movement.

Anyway, what was wrong with Henry being in Chicago celebrating with the President-Elect? Unlike a number of Oklahomans, Henry sees that the direction the nation has been going in for the last several years has been the wrong direction, and Henry endorsed who he thought was the right man. I’m personally convinced the only reason Hillary Rodham Clinton won the Oklahoma Democratic Primary on Super Tuesday was because she’d be easier to beat were she to win the nomination because she (and her husband) had already been demonized by the right-wing hatemongers and otherwise freaks and she’d be an easier target than the then-relatively unknown skinny kid with the funny name from Chicago by way of Hawaii. It would have been like shooting fish in a barrel.

A number of Oklahomans happen to agree with Governor Henry. We’re sorry that our group gets out-shouted by your group because the Most Powerful Newspaper in Oklahoma *drowns* everyone else out. I’ve wasted my time writing letters to the editor to The Oklahoman before. Even though I don’t cuss in them and use perfect English and make my points squarely (unlike here), I’ve gotten responses like “we regret we cannot publish your letter” and once I got one back that said, “Your letter is inappropriate for publication” (that was at least 11 years ago, but I’ve NEVER forgotten that. It’s actually one of the primary reasons I have something against The Oklahoman. I kind of *have* to read it, but I approach reading it as “trying to understand my enemy”).

————————

This doesn’t have anything to do with the above, but to me it’s a microcosm of why I am the way I am. I am reminded of this encounter with the watchmen where I worked when I was about 17 or so.

He and his watchman buddy — one was about to get off, the other one was coming on — were sitting around the breakroom of where I worked at the time — a fleet facility where I was a maintenance helper or something, I don’t remember it was a bullshite high school job, but it beat working at Burger King and it was an okay way to kill three or four hours after school and make a few bucks.

There was a TV in the break room and they were watching the evening news and chatting it up. I was across the room waiting for a ride home and minding my own business, but I listened to their conversation:

“Look, now we’re gonna have N%$$#@ Day …” (this was around the time the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday was declared). “Why the hell do we have to have this?”

His buddy: “Because a bunch of uppity (that word again) pissed and moaned about it for so long they gave in.”

I sat alone with my crossword puzzle and seethed, and stayed out of their conversation. I wasn’t in the mood to tangle with a pair of fat, late-middle-aged (actually I vaguely remember both being over 60) rednecks with small arms at their side. I was tired, I didn’t want to talk to anybody I just wanted to go home. But listening was fascinating. It moved tangentially from blacks to women to that then-new disease that was affecting gay men and back to blacks and what a mess this world was I think we’re going to be here to see Armageddon and blah blah blah.

Then one of them looked at me and asked, “What do you think of (that word again) Day?”

I just looked up from my puzzle and said, “Whatever. I don’t have a problem with it.”

Redneck #1 — “You’ve got some learning to do, missy. You don’t mind having a national holiday for a (that word again).”

Me — “My mom’s boyfriend uses that word all the time and Mom and I hate it, and I wish you’d lay off.”

Redneck #2 — “Boyfriend? Is your mom a slut or something? What about your real dad?”

Me — “None of your fuckin’ business.”

Redneck #1 backed off and started trying to engage me in chatter about my studies and crap. I ignored him. I heard a honk outside and it was my ride. I grabbed my stuff and headed to the door.

Redneck #1 showed me out with the benediction, “See you in church on Sunday.”

All these years later I regret not saying what I really wanted to say to these men. Which should have been: “You mean you’re okay with murdering people because they were different from you and they wanted to fight for justice to be on an equal footing with everybody else? You’re okay with crap like separate bathrooms and water fountains and all that? You were okay with the fact that for roughly 200 years those words in the Declaration of Independence about all men being created equal was just hollow bullshite? You are really okay with that?

“By the way, does your wife like it when you hit her?”

“And you have the gall to admonish me to go to church.” (at the time, I actually did. I no longer have anything to do with religion of any kind).

I think deep in the recesses of my memory that’s the reason I feel compelled to stay in Oklahoma and work to debunk stereotypes and maybe one day (it’ll probably be after I’m dead, though), Oklahoma won’t be a joke to the other 49 states.

I just love it when Billy Bob Redneck comes up with “We don’t care what the rest of the country thinks … ” but hello, it kind of does matter if we want to attract more business and industry and high-tech jobs here, and make people want to move here (heh good luck with that in a recession/depression, thanks Bush!) and it kind of does matter what the outside thinks at a time when Oklahoma is just dying to raise its profile to the rest of the nation (this whole NBA thing is NOT a positive step in that direction, but that’s for another post upcoming). Billy Bob, what the rest of the country thinks DOES matter. And right now what the rest of the nation thinks of Oklahoma isn’t … that great — unless you’re a college football analyst. Those guys freakin’ LOVE us right now.

I know that if I left and tried to seek some kind of “political asylum” in the two states of my choice (Oregon or Maryland), that would make me something I really don’t want to be: A chicken. I am fearful of a lot of things: Losing my mind, losing my health, losing my friends (and I’ve lost plenty for various reasons including the Unavoidable One), losing my wallet even though it isn’t like I ever have money anymore … but I really don’t want to be perceived as a coward because I up and left Oklahoma because I was tired of working for change against a hateful and backwards political climate that seems increasingly driven by demagogues. I won’t go away from here until I’m dead, and I hope that I leave Oklahoma a better place than it was when I got here.

But it’s still tempting. Real tempting. Then I look at my bank account and look at the complete piece of crap outside my window that may once have been my vehicle and know that well, that’s not possible.

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade, I guess.

*sigh*

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A cyber friend of mine wrote that he ran into the letters editor for the Oklahoman somewhere, and jokingly said something about how his letter didn’t get published. The guy said — straight-faced — that it must have been a negative letter, their policy is not to publish those.

Because, really, saying the president elect’s character is full of holes is not at all negative.

Comment by Re




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