Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blessed Are the Persecuted
How Joe the Plumber fits the GOP narrative.

Historically speaking, conservatism is a movement organized and funded by society's most powerful members; politically speaking, it lusts for tax cuts and government rollbacks that will benefit those same fortunate folks at the top.

But what it really is, in its own mind, is a crusade on behalf of society's most abject members: the true Americans who are victimized, sneered at and persecuted for their faithfulness.

Who persecutes them? Well, the mainstream media, to begin with, which supposedly chuckles at their unadorned heartland ways from its lofty perches in New York and Washington. Academics, for another, with their fancy rhetoric and their bottomless contempt for the red, white and blue. And the ACLU, for a third, with its unceasing war on Ten Commandments monuments and Nativity scenes.

Then there is "the culture." Who is the butt of every joke you see on TV? Oafish Middle Americans. From sitcoms to Hollywood blockbusters to ads, their customs are disrespected in a thousand ways. Bestselling conservative books remind average citizens, in fantastic detail, the slanders and slights the world heaps upon them.

Apply this way of thinking to politics and every part of the conversation comes unmoored from reality, drifting off into an endless metaconversation about who's disrespecting whom.

All these attacks on the good people of the trans-Beltway region, and yet no actual, physical attacks to speak of! The need for such a manifestation was clear, and last week a College Republican volunteer in Pennsylvania stepped forward to reveal to the world the stigmata of Middle America's persecution. She was robbed and beaten, she told Pittsburgh police, by a tall mysterious black man who, upon discovering her Republican affiliation, proceeded to carve a backward "B" onto her cheek -- a "B" as in Barack Obama, that tormenter of average Joes everywhere. The next day, of course, the victim recanted her tale and the whole thing fell apart.


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