Saturday, May 30, 2015

Josh Duggars and Denny Hastert: The Hypocrisy of the Heartland

Hey Ted, you can't buy bad press like this. (He'll blame it on Obama, no doubt.)

Paul Krugman reminds us that much of the family values the religious right touted as making the conservative view morally superior to the Satan-led coastal liberal depravity was based on an always rather mythical American Heartland where the real Americans lived and prospered.

Let's look at this supposed Disneyland of highfalutin moral supremacy:

Empty storefronts in Cary, Miss. Family values can't replace a vanishing economy.

There is no pleasure taken in the slow collapse of rural America. When I was a child -- growing up in small towns in Georgia, Colorado, and California -- a significant majority of Americans lived in the supposed heartland. Now most Americans live in cities and the surrounding suburbia. But a question remains: What set of values is preserving what? If family values and moral and religious superiority were best represented by the life away from liberal, corrupt, union-loving coastal Sodom and Gomorrah, what's bringing on the slow-motion destruction of rural town after rural town?

There is an answer or two. One, economic reality -- the abandonment of the family farm in favor of omnivorous agribusiness mega-farms is shredding the fabric of rural life, and, two, there never was any moral superiority or special set of values that underpinned the heartland in the first place.

Back to Josh Duggar and Denny Hastert. These two cases -- among the many, many that have preceded them -- are yet more examples of the thin tissue that separates the phony face of moralism from its soft underbelly of human corruption, revealing that no such moral superiority ever existed.

To be completely clear, this doesn't make political and cultural conservatives more corrupt than their liberal counterparts, but it does put the lie to any particular moral superiority the conservatives ever claimed.

Mirages are wrinkles of heat-disturbed air, as insubstantial as the world Sarah Palin, for one, trumpets without respite. Saying it doesn't make it so. But that doesn't lead, naturally, to a world where we won't have to listen to the blather. The cracks in the foundation of religious conservative faux-superiority may indeed be spreading fast. But we don't have any mainstream media that is willing to abandon one of their favorite narratives. So 2016 will echo with the crackles of the oh-so-slowly-ebbing and oh-so-annoying nonsense that is the right-to-life, oh-noes!-so-much-gay-kryptonite-wrecking-America, guns-will-fix-it!, death-penalty-forever, let's-invade-Iraq-again Republican position. It won't stop partly because beyond that moralizing, they got nuthin'.

Dennis Hastert: the liar in winter?

We don't need to take back our country from the liberals, we need to take back our country from the moral superiority that never was. We can do it. It starts with busting the myths.

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