Decoding a Nationalist’s Propaganda

In this Trumpian era of intense political polarization, my allegiances align closer with the Democrats than with the Republicans. I see greater diversity of thought, ideas, policies, and appreciation for people of all social identities in the context of much higher degrees of verifiable truths coming from key Democratic leaders and members of the rank and file.

On the other hand, to place it in blunt and stark terms, large segments of the current Republican Party, as opposed to those who are “in recovery,” have eagerly accepted and consumed the snake oil the orange headed White House puppet and brewmaster – carved and set into motion by the puppet master Vladimir Putin – has concocted. This population segment purchased the poison for the one-time non-refundable price of relinquishing their souls.

Ingredients mixed with the oil of snake by the conniving brewmaster includes undiluted and massive amounts of patriarchal neo-national white supremacy with equal parts of all the other forms of oppression and subjugation, plus low information, alternative “facts,” deception, deceit, diversion, division, psychological projection, narcissism, social pathology, grievance politics, demands for loyalty and sabotage of world alliances, vilification of people attempting to escape violence and poverty in their native lands, demonization of Muslims of all denominations, and other toxic substances the Food and Drug Administration would never (hopefully) approve and list on the side of package labeling for human consumption.

Like zombies, following consumption of the toxic concoction, the user loses all capacity of critical thinking, reason, and logic, and questioning of the master puppet and his creator/carver. They squander their ability to differentiate truth from exaggerations and lies, and right from wrong.

We have many examples, coming from the higher visibility and ranking maxi members to those lower down from the mini minions of the MAGA world, who ingested the oil of snake blended potion as testimony of its toxicity to our governmental, social, and religious institutions and to our very democracy.

My awesome buds from The Good Men Project editorial board forwarded an example of a “thought piece” (and I use that term reluctantly) written by someone from the mini minions of the MAGA world that they asked me to deconstruct for our readers.

The author begins by quoting some reliable research conducted by the reputable Pew Research Center dating back to 2009:

The typical U.S. household headed by a person age 65 or older has a net worth 47 times greater than a household headed by someone under 35, according to an analysis of census data released Monday.

But this statistic is not some sort of magical formula. It stands to reason that older people who have worked longer in their chosen fields have, in many cases, reached higher levels within hierarchical positions. Many, though certainly not all or possibly even the vast majority of people over 65, have accumulated greater resources in their retirement accounts, and for those who earlier purchased property, may have accumulated equity.

Younger people who are just entering adulthood, many of whom have accepted level-entry jobs, are often burdened by school debts, and they are beginning to raise children. Automatically, many would have less wealth and income than their elders.

They like to refer to us as senior citizens, old fogies, geezers, and in some cases dinosaurs.

Yes, some do. And this has been a perennial characterization in varying terms by the young of the old for millennia.

Some of us are ‘Baby Boomers’ getting ready to retire. Others have been retired for some time. We walk a little slower these days and our eyes and hearing are not what they once were. We worked hard, raised our children, worshiped our God and have grown old together.

Okay, so far, I’m with you. And for me, my short-term memory, stamina, and sexual responsiveness isn’t what it was earlier in my life.

In school we studied English, history, math, and science, which enabled us to lead America into the technological age.

Yes, and decades earlier, our forebearers led us into the industrial age. And more recent generations have led up into the rapidly expanding information age. Okay. Where are you going with this?

Most of us remember what outhouses were, many of us with firsthand experience. We remember the days of telephone party-lines, 25 cent gasoline, and milk and ice being delivered to our homes.

You forgot that we called them “ice boxes,” and we had 3 cent first-class stamps, Tang, manual typewriters, peddle-pushers, polio, cigarettes were considered health aids increasing the flow of natural bodily fluids, and today’s “flip-flops” were once called “thongs,” which mean something very different today.

Black people were summarily called Negroes and ni**ers; Jews were “kikes,” LGBT people were “sick,” “perverted sinners,” “fags” and “dykes”; women were “sluts” and “whores” and mandated to remain home to raise 2.2 children. They were also restricted by the patriarchy entry into many institutions of higher education and fields of employment.

Latinx people were called “greasers,” Asians were “Orientals” and part of a “yellow plague,” and Japanese Americans were unconstitutionally locked in U.S. concentration camps during WWII. Native Americans were seen as “savages” and “red skins” (oh wait, they still are), and I could go on endlessly.

We are probably considered old fashioned and outdated by many.

Certainly by some who engage in ageism and don’t understand history. But for elders who hold onto the prejudices of the past, maybe “old fashioned” and “outdated” serve as apt descriptors.

But there are a few things you need to remember before completely writing us off. We won World War II, fought in Korea and Vietnam.

Yes, the generation prior to the Boomers.

We can quote The Pledge of Allegiance, and know where to place our hand while doing so.

There’s nothing particularly impressive about unquestioning rote memorization and failure to interrogate continuing oppressive structures that privilege the few at the expense of the many. Dear Author, here you seem to conflate a couple of separate but often viewed as identical terms: “nationalist” and “patriot.”

Possibly what separates the patriot from the nationalist is that the patriot understands and witnesses the divide and the gap between the reality and the promise of their country and its people. The nationalist, though, is often unaware that a gap even exists between the potential and the reality.

A true patriot is a person who, indeed, loves their country (though not necessarily viewing it as “exceptional”), but also one who sees the way things are, and one who attempts to make change for the better. A patriot also views other countries with respect and admiration, as valued members of an interconnected and interdependent global community.

Let us never forget that this nation, this E Pluribus Unum (“from many, one”) came the diversity from the entire world: the traditions, the languages, the cultures, the religions, the belief systems, the totality of the human experience, which must be acknowledged, supported, cherished, valued, and nurtured.

We wore the uniform of our country with pride, and lost many friends on the battlefield.

Many still do so today. Individuals and groups who stand up and put their lives on the line to defend the country from very real threats to our national security, as those in our nation’s military, are true patriots.

But what you seem, dear Author, unwilling to acknowledge is that true patriots are also those who speak out, stand up, and challenge our governmental leaders, those of us who put their lives on the line by actively advocating for justice, freedom, and liberty through peaceful means. And yes, and many of us (I am 72 years old) were and continue to stand up for negotiated settlements to conflict to keep our brave warriors out of harm’s way.

We didn’t fight for the Socialist States of America; we fought for the ‘Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.’ We wore different uniforms but carried the same flag.

Again, you conflate terms, in this instance all forms of “socialism” practiced anywhere in the world into one unitary evil.

“Socialism” practiced in the former Soviet Union was somewhat different from the “socialism” under the Nazi regime, which is somewhat varied from the “socialization” underpinning the current Cuban and Venezuelan systems. And all of these are diametrically opposed to the more equitable and humane systems supported by Bernie Sanders and practiced in Scandinavia.

Most nations, including the United States, function as mixed economic systems. In the United States, for example, what other than “socialist” would you define Medicare, Social Security, public works creating parks, streets, water, and electrical systems, and public education?

Dear Author, you and your authoritarian master inhabiting the Oval Office use the fear and scare tactic of “socialism” to dredge up terrifying images of the suffering and murder of residents living on the other side of the Iron Curtain. But you have been unmasked!

We know the words to the ‘Stars Spangled Banner,’ ‘America,’ and ‘America the Beautiful’ by heart” (I call that again, “rote memorization”), “and you may even see some tears running down our cheeks as we sing. We have lived what many of you should have read in history books and we feel no obligation to apologize to anyone for America.

Who is demanding that you apologize? Hey, and in addition to the songs you mentioned, I know most of the lyrics to all Simon and Garfunkel’s playlist, many Broadway musicals (what can I say other than I’m a walking and talking gay stereotype), and labor organizing folk songs. I’m also familiar with the words to “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” If you are real real good, I will sing it to you.

Yes, we are old and slow these days but rest assured, we have at least one good fight left in us.

I’m totally with you there.

We have loved this country, fought for it, and died for it, and now we are going to save it. It is our country and nobody is going to take it away from us. We took oaths to defend America against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that is an oath we plan to keep. There are those who want to destroy this land we love but, like our founders, there is no way we are going to remain silent.

Indeed, I’m there too. We are not going to remain silent when patriarchal neo-nationalist white supremacist right-wing ideologues forget their history (or even more pernicious, understand and attempt to replicate history) by taking us back to the horrific policies and vicious marginalization of members of stereotyped and scapegoated subordinated groups as they did in Europe and the United States in the 1920s and 1930s. They used these groups as their stepping stones in attempting to accumulate more and more personal wealth and power.

And we are calling anyone and everyone out who aids and abets in these attempts, including yourself dear Author.

It was mostly the young people of this nation who elected Obama and the Democratic Congress.

And throughout history, the young have been and remain on the front lines of progressive social change. Reflect on the advancements in visibility and gains in movements to restrict and ultimately turn back environmental degradation and climate change that threatens all life on our planet; ending the deadly plague of gun violence which has long ago reached epidemic proportions; increased calling into question of police misconduct, profiling, and shooting of primarily unarmed people of color; push for LGBTQ equality, security, and accommodation to public facilities; activism to end harassment and sexual abuse of women. They continue in the essential roles leading these and many other movements for civil and human rights.

You fell for the ‘Hope and Change’ which in reality was nothing but ‘Hype and Lies’ from your college professors.

I must call you out not only for your anti-education/anti-intellectual sentiments but also for your adultist assumptions in which you imply that young people are mindless followers who lack a sense of agency and subjectivity. Your words place you into a category that you vehemently rejected – “old fashioned” and “outdated” – but your comments here place you squarely within the parameters.

You youngsters need to taste socialism and see evil face to face to understand you don’t like it after all.

They taste socialism every day as they walk down a sidewalk, take a shower, ride down a highway, see their elders receiving their Social Security checks, and when they attend public schools.

You make a lot of noise, most are all too interested in their careers or ‘Climbing the Social Ladder’ to be involved in such mundane things as patriotism and voting.

To whom exactly are you referring? By stereotyping entire generational groups, are you not yourself expressing the very same resentments you accuse young people of lodging onto you?

In psychology, we call this “projection,” a human defense mechanism whereby an individual denies certain characteristics in oneself by attributing them to others. You might want to look into yourself. Hey, it’s never too late.

Many of those who fell for the ‘Great Lie’ in 2008 are now having buyer’s remorse. With all the education we gave you, you didn’t have sense enough to see through the lies and instead drank the ‘Kool-Aid.’ Well, don’t worry youngsters, the Grey-Haired Brigade is here, and in 2016 we took back our nation.

With all the education we gave you…

You too were provided education at public expense if you chose to accept it. Do I have to remind you, dear Author, that living in the U.S., people are entitled to an education?

And who exactly has this “buyer’s remorse”? From whom exactly did you take back our nation?

The only people I hear lately, from all generations, are those desperately yearning for the good old days when Barack Obama served as Commander in Chief when allies around the globe respected the policies, the intelligence, the compassion, and working relationships of our then President and our First Lady (actually, Woman).

Many of us hunger and thirst for a quieter time, one in which we experienced vast stretches of time when we didn’t hear much about the everyday functioning of our government. It was a virtual political scandal-free for eight years.

It was a time very different from the contentious, divisive, Tweet storming, scandal-plagued present in which the people of our nation suffer from a collective and all-consuming sense of PTSD (President Trump Stress Disorder).

We may drive a little slower than you would like, but we get where we’re going, and in 2020 we’re driving to the polls again by the millions.

And we, too, are driving, walking, and rolling in wheelchairs to the polls against all the voter suppression and intimidation efforts your corrupt and corrupting Party can muster. We are engaging in massive, often youth engineered and directed, voter registration drives. We are actively organizing our efforts never again to let our country unravel the way this unhinged Executive has orchestrated.

So the next time you have the chance to say the Pledge of Allegiance, stand up, put your hand over your heart, honor your country, and thank God for the old geezers of the “Gray-Haired Brigade.

I honor everyone of all generations who deserve to be honored, those who have genuine concern and admiration for their country and the residents within, those who have an interest in opening the large tent of freedom of choice and liberty of expression to all of we the people.

I invite you, dear Author, to join us.

Have you read the original anthology that was the catalyst for The Good Men Project? Buy here: The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood

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