Glenn Feldman has written a big book full of big ideas you ought to take a look at. To be more specific, in his new release, Painting Dixie Red: When, Where, Why and How the South Became Republican, the provocative professor from UAB moderates a lively literary panel discussion between two covers. With the 2012 election cycle already underway, it couldn’t be more timely, but Feldman says he’s been working on this for a long time.
[A Weld web note: In the print edition, this interview was published over two issues. Here on the web, we have combined the interview into one post, and included some extended content. Enjoy!]
GLENN FELDMAN: I actually wrote the conclusion to the book in the summer of 2007.
WELD: Before Obama was even nominated?
GF: Six months or so after the House had gone Democratic, in November ’06, it was a time of great euphoria among the Left. The Republican Party had destroyed itself, they were never coming back, Bush had made a mess of the country, there was scandal upon scandal going down, everything from Abu Ghraib to Pastor Ted and Dick Cheney with his curious view of himself that he was not part of the executive branch of government… it looked to a lot of liberals that not only had things changed, but they had changed forever.
The basic message of my conclusion was pretty pessimistic, and that was: this thing is far from over. The movement that put Bush into the White House is still alive…
It wasn’t just about Bush. Bush was the perfect candidate, someone who appealed to the kind of anti-intellectual impulses there among many people. They liked him because he talked like them, because he was ignorant and proud of it. ‘I don’t read anything over two or three pages, I don’t read a newspaper. I’m uninformed. I don’t care, because I govern from the gut, because I’m the leader and I’m the decider and it’s America and we’re dealing with terror.’
In Painting Dixie Red, provocative professor Glenn Feldman has compiled a history of how Republican conservatism took over the South.
So at the time I wrote my part, things were really looking up for the Left and people were pretty much declaring the war over and won. But you look at it now and it couldn’t be more different. At the time I started putting [the book] together, it couldn’t have been more timely in the opposite direction.
WELD: How much does the current Republican Party owe George Wallace?
GF: Oh, my gosh. Everything. Wallace used to joke that they should pay him royalties for stealing his ideas. And he’s right.
George Wallace was anything but stupid. But Wallace owed the Dixiecrats himself, and the Dixiecrats owed the Redeemers and the Bourbons themselves. This goes way back, and part of the message I’ve tried to get out there is that what’s happening nationally now is an old Southern story being exported.
The South has been selling crazy for a long time. It’s just now that, for a number of reasons, the rest of the country is catching up and buying it.
WELD: Does “The Lost Cause” figure into this at all?
GF: I think it does, but in terms of Vietnam. I think there‘s a Vietnam syndrome that’s similar to the Reconstruction syndrome. That is, the South was exceptional in that it experienced defeat by a “foreign” power”, occupancy by a “foreign” military regime; disgrace, humiliation; destruction — economic, physical. monetary, in every sense. The rest of the country couldn’t relate to that until after Vietnam. C. Vann Woodward, famously in The Burden of Southern History — and I have the utmost respect for Woodward, I think he’s one of the greatest historians ever to write, although I disagree with a lot of what he says — he was so optimistic, he thought the rest of the country could learn from the Southern experience. Well, dammit, they sure did learn. Not what he wanted them to.
What happened, I think, after Vietnam was this feeling of national angst, and Watergate was folded in there too, along with the OPEC crisis, the energy crisis, and you had this national crisis of confidence. I think the way the country dealt with it meant, and a lot of things changed in the Seventies, mechanically, to facilitate this, but by the mid-Seventies to 1980, when we get Reagan, we had this syndrome with ‘America’s coming back, we’re still great, we’re Number One.’
I remember Bruce Springsteen’s song, “Born in the USA,” which, anyone who knows anything about the song and listens to the lyrics knows, clearly is very critical of what went on. And it was appropriated by the Reagan people as an anthem.
WELD: This dovetails with a theory I have that Republicans only listen to the chorus, they never listen to the verse.
GF: That’s true, but the song fit so perfectly with the mood of the times. The South had always been there with this kind of dysfunctional politics ever since Reconstruction. This Tea Party thing we’re seeing today? That’s nothing new. It’s just repackaged Dixiecrat stuff, which is repackaged George Wallace.
It had always been there, but it had always been considered crazy, it had always been considered nuts, fanatical, fringe, lunatic. I read the famous letter from Dwight Eisenhower to his brother Edgar in 1954. He talks about this. He basically flat-out says to his brother in the letter, If we ever have a party that decides it wants to eradicate Social Security and labor laws, we will never hear from that party again in political history.
WELD: Was he referring to something going on in within the Republican Party at that time?
UAB Professor Glenn Feldman is the author of Painting Dixie Red: When, Where, Why and How the South Became Republican, which Courtney Haden describes as 'a quintessential guide to determining whence cometh the peckerwoods.'
GF: Yes. He was referring to the lunatic fringe, the John Birch Society, which had basically denounced him and his other brother, Milton as Communist agents. But in the letter he says, There are a few of those people out there, among them H.L. Hunt and “a few Texas oil millionaires,” people like that, “but their number is negligible and they are stupid.” That’s what he says, verbatim.
And you look around today and the numbers are not negligible.
WELD: But they’re still stupid?
GF: Of course.
[For those who read this in the print edition of Weld (where this interview was published over two weeks/issues), this is where the first installment of Courtney Haden's interview with Glenn Feldman ended and the second installment began. And the web edition of the second installment is extended -- very much so. But we won't hold you up any further, keep reading!]
GF: What I think happened in the South, I call them The Great Meldings…
The first melding involved economic libertarianism — laissez-faire [economics]. What Southern elites figured out was that if you could appropriate the white race issue — white supremacy — with that, race would trump the common person’s concern with economic health. So what you had was a battle in the South. Economic liberals for a long time were very racist. Look at George Wallace himself, who started out as an economic liberal. Bull Connor was a New Dealer. Even people like [longtime Congressman for the Birmingham area] George Huddleston had terrible views on race, and even [renowned Alabama Senators] Lister Hill and John Sparkman were pretty poor. [Supreme Court Justice] Hugo Black? Great, once he left Alabama.
WELD: And once he got out of the Klan.
GF: Yeah. But what I think the elites figured out to do was steal, appropriate the race issue away from economic liberals, and the glue they used was hostility toward the federal government, [saying] that the common ground we share is, we hate the federal government, we fear the federal government. ‘We can take white supremacy — opposition to civil rights — and glue it to our economic program of libertarianism that benefits the wealthy.’ That’s become a national thing now.
The second Great Melding, I think, is similar and related in that the glue this time… was anti-democratic values. ‘We really don’t like a lot of people voting. We’re not too happy with that.’ The two main elements that were melded this time were economic libertarianism—laissez-faire on steroids, neoliberalism, the Chicago school of economics, Austrian school, whatever—with fundamentalist religion. We’re talking about Dominionism, Christian Reconstructionism, very anti-democratic, along with the economic thing.
People like Maggie Thatcher, Milton Friedman, and Ayn Rand (who’s so popular now, it’s a joke) really mistrusted the people and did not believe in democracy whatsoever.
Now, for years, this type of stuff was considered nuts. Lunatic fringe, extreme right wing, even by the Republican Party….
WELD: Let me show you this icon from the past. [Courtney pops out a 1964 campaign button for James Martin, who was elected to Congress from Alabama the year Barry Goldwater was landslid by Lyndon Johnson nationally.] What does this mean to you?
Author and UAB professor Glenn Feldman
GF: Jim Martin fits right into this: a Democrat from Gadsden, I believe, oil man, who switches and becomes Republican and gets himself elected to Congress on Goldwater’s coattails. And Jim Martin himself in 1998, I think, in The Birmingham News, said the nucleus of the modern Republican Party was 1948 [the Dixiecrat secession from the national Democrat Party over civil rights tolerance]. Martin knew firsthand how powerful race was. He damn near beat Lurleen Wallace [in the governor’s race in 1966] which was like beating George, based on nothing more than the race issue.
After 1965, things changed somewhat. With the Voting Rights Act, you cannot alienate a whole swath of the population that can now vote. So these cries of Nigger, nigger, nigger and Segregation Forever had to be modulated, coded and so forth, and Wallace and Nixon did an excellent job of that.
WELD: Is it not possible for Republicans now in power to use legislation to disenfranchise voters, but in a more subtle way than, say, the poll tax. Can they use voter ID laws and such to restrict voter participation?
GF: Absolutely. That’s what you’re seeing across the country, this anti-democratic frenzy to keep people, who, I think in their views, should not be voting anyway, from voting: young people, black minorities, the poor, anybody of recent immigration status… which gets us right back to Ayn Rand and the world divided between the givers and the takers, the producers and the leeches. Once you buy into that mindset, it becomes very easy to take that next step to disfranchisement…
WELD: What’s the point at which the Republicans are able to persuade people to vote against their own economic interests?
GF: I think it’s the easiest thing in the world to do and the most difficult thing in the world to understand, because it’s been done so damn often. And again this gets us back to the Southern experience: what you do is, you plug in the politics of emotion from politics of rationality or reason, and choose your flavor of the day.
It can be race, that’ll do it in a heartbeat. How many unions have been busted by race issues, how many populist movements have been broken on the anvil of race by the hammer of wealth? Southern history is rife with it.
Religion, morality, gays, terror, this kind of uber-ultra-patriotism, anything that’s going to work at that particular moment to get your emotions to impede your rational judgment…
If they do think economics, there’s a couple of things. One is resentment of this caricature of ‘people who don’t work and get by on my tax money.’ That kind of tax fury we’re seeing now, that’ll get masses of the middle class and working class to vote against their interests real quick. The second thing is this kind of belief that ‘I’m gonna be rich one day and I have just as much chance as the Kennedy family or the Rockefellers’. All you have to do is work hard, get up in the morning, obey the laws, pay your taxes and you are guaranteed success in this country. That kind of mythology, the Horatio Alger bootstrap stuff, is very powerful.
WELD: But does it work as well in economically depressed times such as these? Fear seems more of a prod at that juncture.
GF: You’ve got to change the issue according to the times. I think the real tragedy of this era we’re living in is that we’re living in at least another recession, probably even a depression. These unemployment statistics are so skewed that I’d say the real unemployment rate is probably twice what we’re hearing, which is close to Depression figures. The tragedy is that Obama came in, he had two houses of Congress and wasn’t able to effect another New Deal. It’s not like we didn’t already have a blueprint.
People can talk about all the obstacles Obama faced. Roosevelt faced them, too. The difference is that Roosevelt fought and he was pushed hard from the Left and he was just a different animal than Obama…Obama won’t fight. You can’t lose a fight you don’t even engage in. I think a lot of people on the Left would forgive him and support him and he’d have his base if he at least tried, for God’s sake. But on every single important issue that comes down the pike, whether it’s extending the Bush tax cuts or not closing Guantanamo, actually putting Social Security and Medicare on the bargaining table — Kennedy and Johnson and Truman must be spinning in their graves over that.
Certainly Roosevelt was pushed and pulled to the Left by people close to him, Eleanor for instance; Harold Ickes, Aubrey Williams, Frances Perkins. Huey Long in Louisiana and his “Share the Wealth” program was a Leftist threat until he was shot. But I still think there’s a huge difference between a person like Roosevelt and Obama, and this is what I mean: I think every President comes into office with their own psychological baggage. With Bush — and I’m no psychiatrist — it was pretty clear we were dealing with someone who felt they were the black sheep of the family, in perpetual adolescent rebellion, they were going to show Daddy up, they were going to prove they could finish the job Daddy started in Iraq. All of that was just putty in the hands of people like Cheney and Rumsfeld… You could get this guy to do anything, including attack a country that never attacked us. It’s pretty easy to diagnose Bush, but it’s more painful to diagnose Obama…
Author and UAB professor Glenn Feldman
Psychologically, Obama, for whatever reason, wants to be liked. He wants to be accepted. That is the single highest value and virtue to him, and it rules his actions… As we’ve seen, no concession, no compromise is off the table and it’s really tragic. What happens in that case is, so many people actually end up suffering, like they are today. We’re becoming a food stamp nation, with one in six people in poverty, one in five getting Social Security checks and it’s all going downhill. Meanwhile, you have this tremendous redistribution of wealth upward. I think you know, Obama has a lot to answer for, as a Presidential enabler of these extreme Right elements that are out there.
WELD: The Democrats aren’t going to offer an alternative to Obama, so he’s obliged to run for that second term.
GF: Well, we’re using the words “Democratic Party” as if it means the same thing it did in 1960 or 1970, and it doesn’t. That’s been one of the most difficult things to watch and accept, which is that this Democratic Party today is Republican Lite. It’s dominated by corporate money, it’s indifferent — that’s the best you could say; maybe even hostile — to middle class and working class people. While this stuff has been going on in Wisconsin and Ohio, assaulting unions, you haven’t heard a damn word out of the White House about it. Obama should have been down there in the middle of that whole thing….
At least when Bill Clinton said, “I feel your pain,” you believed him, because of his upbringing, what he’d been through. Obama just seems to come across as incredibly indifferent, cool, arrogant almost; completely out of touch to the sufferings and tribulations of the common person.
He very much cares about the tribulations of people on Wall Street. We have yet to have the Department of Justice really go after the criminals there.
We see Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld circling the country making millions on books when they should actually be facing war crimes tribunals. An article came out a few weeks ago [that said],’Yeah, you know, the Justice Department could have gone after them for that or whatever, but the Bema people were afraid there’d be a coup.’ My gosh. So you do nothing? Doesn’t that make you complicit somehow?
WELD: But there’s the point about the same financial interests supporting both sides. It’s in nobody’s best interests to rock the boat.
GF: Or even — and this has been a very difficult thing to come to grips with, but I think I have — it’s very easy for me to identify faux or fake populism on the part of the Right. You talk all this garbage about ‘the common person’ and ‘I’m going to put money in your wallet by saving you taxes’ and so forth — that’s easy to see. It’s not so easy, and not so pleasant, to see faux populism from the Democratic Party. You have Bema up there, ‘I’m gonna fight for you, I’m gonna do this and I’m gonna do that,’ raising expectations and hopes — my gosh, if there was ever an oxymoron, “the audacity of hope” as a slogan.
I used to work with labor union people a lot, and to watch them go out and bust their asses to get people to vote Democratic, and go house-to-house and invest the little money they have, and for what? This Democratic Party now is—what you basically have is, you have a horse race where corporate America has bet on every horse, and they’re going to win this frickin’ race. They’re going to win. It’s just a matter of whether they’ll get in Bachmann or Palin and win 50 to one. If they get Obama, they win 10 to one. They’re still going to win. There doesn’t seem to be a viable liberal alternative out there.
WELD: The model for this government-by-plantation is another Southern thing I think you’re alluding to. Are the Koch brothers equivalent to the old Bourbons of early 20th century Alabama?
GF: Yeah, sure. I think that’s a great analogy. We’re finally starting to put a face on some of these people. It’s the Koch brothers now, it used to be H.L. Hunt, and a number of wealthy right-wingers. They’ve always been there.
WELD: In the same sense that everybody wound up working for the plantation owners in Alabama, does that scenario play out nationwide now?
GF: If they’re lucky to work at all. Maybe. Are you talking about politicians or the average person?
WELD: The average person who’s been persuaded to elect Congressmen and Senators and Presidents who support a financial agenda that’s not going to benefit him.
GF: Yeah, I think in that respect, so many people are. What’s weird is you always have this opposition that dissents. No matter how bad things are, no matter what part of the country it is, you can still find people that do recognize what’s happening. It’s both heartening and disheartening because, even in the Deep South, even in the belly of the beast, the heart of the monster, there exists the White Southern Liberal, still.
The problem is again, I think, that you had this perfect storm in the mid-Seventies where a lot of things that really made the forces of progressivism almost irrelevant today. Not to mention doomed. You had a technological revolution which paradoxically has resulted in, to put it bluntly, the brainwashing of most people in this country. You would think that the rise of cable TV and the internet and so forth would provide more alternatives. What it’s really done, I think, is marginalized a lot of views, but it’s also put out so many views that the consensus is, there is no consensus.
You can turn on Fox News, ‘The world is flat, we have one guest who says Yes, one who says No; we report, you decide.’ We don’t know anything anymore. ‘Climate change, is it happening? We don’t know. We have two people, one says Yes and one says No.’ We have no idea.
That’s our media. And what people do is, they choose whatever makes them feel good, what reinforces what they already believe, their prejudices and so forth. At one time that would have been considered extreme, now it’s morphed into mainstream conservatism. And the conservatives are so much better at getting their message out. It’s not even a race anymore. Look at Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and all the rest, Glenn Beck—they’re everywhere. And the really sad thing, media-wise, is that they’re treated as rational, serious journalists, in a way they should never be. You turn on NPR, it’s enough to make you sick, in that you’ll have Tea Party people on there, people raving about this, raving about that, and the moderators go on as if they’re talking in rational terms. Which they are not.
You have Dick Cheney defending torture and the Bush people thinking about nuclear options, literally, and people talk about it as if, ‘Well, okay, that’s one view, it’s legit.’
So in the mid-Seventies, to go back to that, you have this technological revolution. The huge irony is that it eradicates this kind of ABC-NBC-CBS consensus that ‘This is reality.’ We don’t know what reality is anymore; matter of fact, we don’t care.
A second irony could be the Arab Spring, in which technology was used to open things up. Here we have the Arab world trying to go for freedom and democracy using technology, while at the same time, the world’s so-called greatest democracy is clearly an empire in decline, largely because of technology….
The other thing that changed everything was the entry into politics by the religious right. Prior to the mid-Seventies, people like [Jerry] Falwell and [Pat] Robertson and all the rest just stayed out of politics. I can’t emphasize enough how important that was. That took political disagreements and made them personal, religious, moral, millennial. ‘You are evil,’ ‘You are wicked,’ ‘You are of Satan,’ if you disagree with me on political issues.
Prior to that, especially in the Sixties, Republicans and Democrats would disagree on policy, but they’d stay in Washington on weekends with their wives, they’d be in the same clubs, have each other over for dinner—it wouldn’t go so far.
But the religious right and technology and this whole, what Hillary Clinton called “the vast right-wing conspiracy” — this didn’t happen overnight. The Right pumps hundreds of millions of dollars into this stuff every year: the think tanks, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and the rest of them. We’re just now beginning to see how involved people like the Koch brothers are in setting the agenda, setting the ground rules. When you put all these things together along with something I didn’t mention, Buckley v. Valeo, the first big [Supreme Court] decision in the mid-Seventies about how much corporations could contribute to political campaigns, and add in the Citizens United case — forget it, it’s over.
What’s happening now is a 30-,40-year project come to fruition.
WELD: Would Barry Goldwater even recognize the Republican Party he helped put into its current position?
GF: I think in some ways, he’d be absolutely appalled. In terms of foreign policy, the willingness to use nuclear weapons, this kind of wearing extremism as a badge of honor, yeah, he’d recognize it. He’s the godfather of that. But a lot of the economic stuff, I think, he actually considered Wallace off the deep end. There’s a lot of evidence that suggests Wallace wanted to be Goldwater’s vice-presidential running mate in ’64 and made overtures to that effect. Goldwater didn’t want to be associated with outright bigotry…but now, you know, bigotry’s been repackaged and it makes people on an primal, elemental level feel good about themselves.
WELD: ‘At least someone’s under me.’
GF: No matter how bad it is. ‘I lost my job as a regional sales manager, whatever, I was making $150,000; $200,000. Now I’m working at Lowe’s or at Wal-mart greeting people. Things are bad, but you know what? At least I’m morally superior to somebody. At least I’m not on welfare.’ And it used to be, ‘At least I’m not black.’ It’s the same kind of emotional thing being played out now.
WELD: On the Alabama level, the Republicanization of the state seems fairly complete. But do you think things will get as bad as in Louisiana, where the state Democratic Party this cycle isn’t even going to run a statewide candidate?
GF: I don’t know. I still have people tell me they don’t think the state really is Republican, that they can point to a probate judge or a county clerk down in Andalusia who’s a Democrat, so it’s a split decision.
WELD: I take the example of Jennifer Parsons Champion here in town, the daughter of one of the great Democratic state senators, Mac Parsons, and Jennifer jumped ship and became a Republican, presumably because she thinks that’s the only way she can get re-elected.
GF: That’s been going on for a long time.
WELD: And that suggests to me: how serious can they be about being part of a party to whose values they do not necessarily subscribe?
GF: That’s a problem for the Republican Party… There was stuff in the paper maybe six months ago that the state party was going to purge its ranks of RINOs, Republicans In Name Only. But they’re not stupid. They know basically they have a lot of Democrats that are simply running on the Republican label, and I’ve had people who do run for office tell me, ‘Yeah, I’m a Democrat, yes, I’m a liberal, but if I run, I’ll run as a Republican because it’s the only way I’ll get elected.’ I don’t know if it’ll get to the Louisiana level here; it’s impossible to predict. In some ways it doesn’t even have to, the Democratic Party is so inept and so timid.
WELD: But on the state level, there are hopeful signs with the advent of Mark Kennedy [new head of the Alabama Democratic Party], who at least realizes he’s got to get some young voters aboard to shore up a big leak in the party structure.
GF: I should qualify this by saying I’m talking about the national party. The national Democratic Party has proven themselves to be completely inept and unwilling and craven. Yes, there are hopeful signs at the state level. If you look at Wisconsin, the Midwest and even here, that’s where the hope is.
WELD: Let me follow that up with the statements of Richard Trumka, the head of the AFL-CIO. I gleaned that he was implying, if he didn’t come right out and say, that the union in the next cycle will participate only on a state level, not diverting their resources to the national Democratic ticket. Could the Democratic Party subsist nationally as a decentralized organization, trying to stage a resistance movement without a central headquarters?
GF: Good question. I hadn’t thought about it in those terms. When I read what Trumka said, I kinda wondered, ‘What took you so long?’ It kind of brings labor back full circle to Samuel Gompers [a founder of the national labor movement] who didn’t declare for the major national parties. He had the famous line about “rewarding our friends and punishing our enemies.”
WELD: For the most part, labor has lived up to that ideal.
GF: Yeah, but it’s heartbreaking to think back on the last 20 years, and all the resources and all the money and emotion that’s gone into electing Democrats who, once they got into office, didn’t do a damn thing for labor or who actually hurt labor. When organized labor gets hurt, when unions get hurt, what many people don’t understand is that everybody gets hurt who’s not wealthy or connected.
WELD: That’s probably not well understood in Alabama, because of the way the struts have been kicked out from under the union movement in the state since the 1940s.
GF: Which goes back again to the Civil War, when the region was prostituted to bring in Northern capital, with anti-unionism being a big part of that.
WELD:To the point at which Alabama labor is now discussed on a par with Chinese labor when companies are looking for a place to outsource.
GF: That’s what makes this immigration issue so thorny. On the one hand, people talk about the civil rights issue and the human rights issue, which it is. But at the same time, the immigration issue is impossible to divorce from the labor issue. The way I see it, what you have going on here is, corporate America is making out like bandits no matter what. It’s all about cutting labor costs to increase the bottom line, and not having to deal with safety issues or human labor issues. You either move the plant to Mexico or you move it to—
WELD: A right-to-work state.
GF: Right. Or you bring the labor from a desperate part of the world here by the truckload. These people aren’t just wandering up here. They’re being brought here as cheap labor. So it makes immigration a difficult, thorny issue. What do you do about this? Bottom line, it’s about lowering labor costs, and it is occurring at a time when it’s tougher and tougher for anybody in this country to get a decent job with benefits, or a pension, which is absolutely vanishing….
Basically, what we have is the economic, if not the physical destruction of the middle class, poor people, working class, taking place at warp speed here. And as Bernie Sanders [Senator from Vermont] said the other day, “Poverty isn’t just economic. Eventually, it’ll kill you.” You can’t get medical care, you can’t get access to things you should, and you can die from this.
WELD: Do you think the Republicanization of first the South, and then America, poisons the well of democracy, or at some point do things like rational discourse and a belief in social justice reassert themselves?
GF: It’s difficult. I would like to believe they do. But how bad does it have to get before that happens? How many people have to die, how many people have to lose their homes, how many have to be unemployed, how many have to be on food stamps, et cetera, before people wake up? I’m not sure we’re really capable anymore, because of all the things we’ve discussed; whether it’s this religious fundamentalism, this economic fundamentalism, the change in technology and all the distractions, y’know? People are so distracted, whether it’s Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan or NASCAR or college football, but at some point you’ve got to realize other things are going on in the world that matter. So I don’t know.
WELD: One last thing. In the surge of the so-called Christian Right, at what point do they come to terms with the fact that the things they advocate are directly contradicted by the doctrine of the Christ they profess?
GF: Never. Anyone with an open mind who reads the New Testament, the Acts of the Apostles and Luke especially, has to see that you could make a really good argument that Jesus Christ was a socialist, not even a liberal…
Here’s a brief anecdote. I was in Auburn, in grad school, and my wife and I were at that time in the Catholic Church. We attended a weekly Bible study group, and there were a number of conservatives in the group, but also a couple of liberal nuns. I remember when one of the liberal nuns made a presentation, a talk, about what Christ had actually said while He was here on Earth. It was so disconcerting and upsetting to this very conservative gentleman, that he asked her, “No, really. What do you think He really meant when He said all that stuff?”
And that gets to the heart of this rational disconnect. It cannot be: feeding the poor, clothing people, caring for the sick —
WELD: ‘Surely it must have been a parable. He couldn’t have been talking about actual people.’
GF: Which takes us back to the kind of atheism and anti-religious nature of Ayn Rand and her economic fundamentalism. The anti-democratic glue is so strong, the real message of Christ is completely ignored, the way you would NPR or any other liberal outlet. ‘What He said is just troubling and so we will ignore it.’
The book is titled Painting Dixie Red, and though it’s pricey as a University Press of Florida hardcover, you’ll want to read it anyway. Ask for it at your neighborhood library, or perhaps you can hold out until UPF issues that affordably-priced paperback.
Courtney Haden is a Weld columnist. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. ∞