When Your Spirit Whispers

Pay Attention! _ Write It Down!
FEBRUARY 20, 2012 11:32PM

A Conspiracy Of Words, Decline of Empire

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When my partner Rob and I first arrived on the south coast of the island of Crete, it was a Swiss tourist who first realized that we were a gay couple. Barbara was the kind of person who would just blurt out what was on her mind. After we confirmed her suspicions, it was less than 24 hours before the entire village knew we were a gay couple. Of course we assumed that the reaction would be similar to the same revelation in a small town in rural America. We were pleasantly surprised, however. The ignorance of homosexuality in Loutro was simply because they had never been exposed to homosexuals. No one had taught them that we were bad. No one had instructed them on how they should feel. No one had read Bible verses that condemned us to eternal damnation. Their ignorance was very simply an absence of knowledge. So in the absence of fundamentalist American Christians, the people of Loutro, Crete watched us with curiosity. They treated us with the same respect they gave everyone who was different. In the following four years they came to love us as we came to love them. We became such a part of the family of Loutro, that my partner Rob’s ashes are spread in the castle ruins above Loutro, where he rests for eternity, at his request on his death bed.

I open with this story, because that is where my picture of America in 2012 is developed. It is through that lens that I observe the insanity that threatens the very existence of the most respected democracy on earth. The fire that feeds the insanity is stoked by what Robert N. Proctor calls "agnotology." It is the cultural production of ignorance for a specific purpose. 

The religious right, and now the Republican Party they have hijacked, are involved in a conspiracy of words. They use ignorance as a weapon to advance their evil agenda. They very carefully frame their arguments to appeal to the most basic human instincts that fear can arouse in the midst of ignorance. They teach the unknowing that stubbornness is synonymous with virtue. They convince those weak in spirit, that ignorance carries the same weight as knowledge. And their most clever framing of all is the idea that anyone who criticizes them is un-American or unholy!

My only hope for the future of the United States comes from the possibility that they have finally overstepped the bounds of decency and sanity to an extent where it is impossible for any intelligent person to remain silent! The fact that I must rely on this as my glimmer of hope is an indictment of our collective lack of morality. They have framed their revolution so well, that good people remain silent, in fear, as the entire culture implodes. 

In a sane world, the entire slate of Republican presidential candidates would be laughed off the stage. In a sane world, no respectable news agency would give them the time of day. In a sane world Democrats would stand up and call out their lies every time the Republicans opened their mouths. In a sane world the people of the United States would be in the streets by the tens of millions demanding that we return to the kind of government that used to be the envy of the rest of the world.

But the truth is, we have all been brainwashed by the conspiracy of words. We now believe as a nation, that truth has the same standing as lies. We now believe as a nation that hatred and prejudice are the price we pay for free speech! We now believe as a nation that we must all lie down on the floor, motionless, as we are trampled by greed, corruption, violence and inequality. We have been taught that we must turn the other cheek, then turn the other cheek, then turn the other cheek until we are bloodied beyond the recognition of what we were when we were the great nation that was the envy of the rest of the world. 

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This struggle is getting personal. It's touching my family now. I will not hold back my anger. These people are playing with other people's lives! I cannot imagine what would happen should they get in the White House. That is just not acceptable!
Everything you've written is incredibly tight and well composed. It's not just the GOP primary. Include the latest merry go round over Greece in the EU, and the thing between Israel and Iran. It's hard for me to imagine another time outside of the Dark Ages when the stupidity was this wide and deep. As far as the eye can see -- nothing but stupid. r
I envy your four years in Crete and am saddened to read that you lost Rob. I agree with you analysis of America in 2012. I'd blame Newt Gingrich for his focus study research vocabulary of deceit for the purpose of winning elections by demonizing your opponents. But the wicked political art of the smear with distorted language dates back to Jefferson and Adams.

To one degree or another, it has always been with us and I'm afraid that because some people only listen to what they want to hear, it will always be part of our elections in a democratic nation. All we can do is to speak the truth to power and trust that most Americans know the difference between coherent political argument and bullshit contrived by frightened desperate demagogues.

If we keep our faith, speak loud and clear and use our anger with quiet and precise deliberation, "those people" will succumb to their own poison and fear.

Isn't this the truth? But the most ignorant just make the most noise, they are not speaking to the masses, just rambling.
Thank you, Robert. The rhetoric of the Extreme Right is ultimately an attack on truth, and from people who claim they believe in "absolute truth." Their actions deny their claim. Truth is a struggle, truth is precious, truth is hard work. As you say, the Right use "ignorance as a weapon." We need to shine the light of truth on such people: they are a threat to democracy, as the Pharisees were a threat to Jesus.
"In a sane world, the entire slate of Republican presidential candidates would be laughed off the stage."

Let me, please, rephrase. In any civilized or semi-civilized society, none of these clowns could get a job, anywhere, let alone run for president. Excellent post. R
Your POV is so excellent. I stand by you because your trying to find way to spread more...

Better than a thousand hollow words,
is one word that brings peace.
[r] so well said. love to hear of your experience in Crete. That was a non-patriarchal paradigm of partnership, cooperation, empathy. I am glad you and your Rob got to experience it. ONL is right, we are living in a spiritual Dark Age, another one. History of humanity, wonderful periods of collective higher selves in power and horrifying periods of collective lower selves in power. The Good Germans goose-stepping over the Holocaust, and within our borders, slavery, the savaging of the Indians, McCarthyism in which people turned each other in as communists to escape their own vilification, Islamaphobia, mass imprisonment of black and poor youth, full out pass of white white collar criminals, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iran violent interventions for bullshit rationales.... all those clandestine black ops destabilization and torture/prison sites. Santorum on NewsHour was mocking concern about climate change, called it "political science." Denial on steroids. "Truthiness" of your cronies. Reality-based critical thinking not comfortable or safe or convenient. And you know how I feel, BOTH legacy parties are filled with betraying rat bastards. You explained learned helplessness perfectly. Are we going to get up off the floor and put a stop to it or not? The door of fascism is closing fast. libby
I am NO optimist but try to have more faith in your fellow Americans. I know it's hard. You are buying into the black propaganda. I think you will see all their money and all the spin doctors will not prevail. That may keep Americans ignorant but we are not stupid. We know who caused our current plight and we are not about the throw the bums back in. The consequence of the Tea-Partiers who did get back in proved the danger in that already. I think Americans are ready for a real housecleaning this time around. It’s way better than you fear. Morality? Integrity? Like- ability? Authenticity? Statesmanship? Obama beats them all. Not even a close call. Unless Progressives and Liberals cut off their infamous noses to spite their proverbial faces he gets his second term.

Look: two and a half million Americans died in 2009. If that’s typical then about 10 million voters will have died between presidential elections. And while birth rates have declined it’s safe to say the by 2012 there will be several million younger voters to replace the dead ones ossified by orthodoxy. This is a good thing. All the polls I have seen put them in favor marriage equality, birth control, abortion, and they are generally fed up with the culture wars which have been the smoke screen for three decades of fleecing. Though kept factually ignorant we are not stupid.

The Christian right has been bleeding membership for years and the church pews grow more empty ever year. If their ranks are being replenished it is not by conversion but by breading - and baptizing the dead as Romeny admits doing. (See my post on that.) They surely don’t want to make birth control more available to them that’s left. The converts are few and even the children of fundamentalists commonly shed their faith once they enter college and experience secularism and diversity first hand and also discover they have been lied to. Children do not respond well when they discover their parents have poisoned their well. Realizing their minds have been tainted by slanders they frequently have a change of heart. Frankly, once out in the working world they discover how wonderfully diverse life is. They also discover that, if they want friends and good jobs, the wider world is not going to tolerate the tub-thumping religious bigotry and superstition that was drummed into them as children. Enlightenment happens. Enlightenment works.

All this is why we hear the death-rattle of an older order. The screeching protests of those who need to put out candles so they can curse the darkness. Do not buy into the black propaganda Spirit Man. The GOP is in a shambles. It’s a one ring circus but all the decent acts have already left. All that remains are side-shows, freaks, clowns, carnival barkers dogs and ponies and snake-oil salesman. Poor John McCain hasn’t stopped looking embarrassed for his party ever since his own preacher disgusted the candidate by flaunting stone-age ignorance. The Party is a shambles. All it’s got are fundamentalist and money and that’s not enough. We are not stupid.

And please notice how this time around they are not marching their preachers into the public square. That alone a BIG change. Americans are growing very tired of that pandering. Even my religious friends don’t like it. And Romney SURE as hell won’t be marching out this spiritual advisor into the public square. ! LOL! No black or Jew will vote for him and all the GOP can come up with is Gingrich and Sentorum? LAUGH! It’s worthy of mockery. They do well in the South. So what. It’s the Southern Democrats that were always the real racist bigots after Republican Lincoln’s Emancipation. Lyndon Johnson and the Civil Rights Acts handed the South back to the Republican for at least two generations. But I suspect even the few black Republicans will pull the lever for Obama.

And American Catholics sure as hell are not taking to tainted bait about birth control from a decrepit clericy that has for decades secretly molested their children. When it comes to their private lives the Pope’s dictates mean as much his disingenuous apologies. They will do as they please. These are AMERICAN Catholics. They don’t do infallibility.

There is much to love about this younger generation. Unlike their parents they are teachable. The pendulum has swung. There is no going back. Thoth has the right hit: they are worthy of mockery.
"I am NO optimist." In the current climate you sure seem like one. I hope you are right. I actually suspect you are! But today, at the state levels, people are suffering at the hands of the successes of the right wing nuts. I hope the coattails are long!
I know first hand that for many who live in the Bible Belt states, our debates on these pages offer no hope at all. The actions and personalities of the clowns running for president on the Republican ticket are manifested in their neighbors, their husbands, their brothers and their local officials. I know for a fact that many live in fear of the radical Christians who threaten them. The threats are much more subtle than in the past when crosses were burned on lawns, but their tactics are just as effective in many ways! Grover Norquist has admitted he has given up on the national elections, to focus on the state and local levels. As the poverty of the Reagan revolution trickles down, their plan to sell prisons to private for profit corporations will enable all those self-righteous neighbors, husbands, brothers and local officials to fill them with the opposition. One of the most dangerous aspects of doublespeak is the one that says that activists judges are appointed to legislate the will of the left. That lie is already exposed by the number of inmates crowding our prisons.
Very well done. Learned something here! r.
You are way too hard on the United States. Most of us are, I suppose, and especially the political junkies like you and I.

One of the great, saving things about this country is its ability to reinvent itself, as we presently are.

In any event, we are no an empire. Never have been. Empire is not in our blood. Talk to a well educated Brit about empire and the comparison will be not only apparent but stark. Have we made mistakes? Lots of them. We don't claim perfection. At least, no reasonable American would.

Everything you're observing today has been experienced in our past. It's just an historical fact. And somehow we muddle through every time.

This democracy is a giant, klunky machine which works in fits and starts, sometimes breaks down, gets repaired, and does its work once again. (And that's exactly what the framers of this thing intended.) You, and I, and everyone who puts up an opinion here, the papers, the TV, the books and magazines, the Gingriches and Obamas, and Bushes and all the rest....are parts of the machine.

Take heart!!

PS: if we were an empire, we have several hundred good years left to have some fun.
Point taken Flylooper! But I guess my concept of empire is not in the British sense or the Roman sense. It is the empire of capitalism. In that sense we took over the world, then took it down with us.
Sorry for your loss, Spiritman…just as I am happy that the final years of Rob’s life apparently were spent in a happy place.

My only hope for the future of the United States comes from the possibility that they have finally overstepped the bounds of decency and sanity to an extent where it is impossible for any intelligent person to remain silent!

Unfortunately, there are many who will aid the Republicans regain power—who will enable extreme American conservatives to further their agenda of exclusion. Some are Republican stalwarts who will do anything to see Republicans and conservatives in power…but many are people who should know better and who are instinctively on the other side of that coin. Some of those latter people have posted on this page in response to you.

The had unrealistic expectations of what Barack Obama could do, and they have allowed their disappointment in his failures to cloud their minds to the point where they are will to do everything in their power to weaken his chances for re-election—even though they KNOW the result will be the election of someone like a Rick Santorum.

They are the ones who have to be brought to their senses in order to prevent a catastrophe of that sort.

In a sane world, the entire slate of Republican presidential candidates would be laughed off the stage. In a sane world, no respectable news agency would give them the time of day. In a sane world Democrats would stand up and call out their lies every time the Republicans opened their mouths. In a sane world the people of the United States would be in the streets by the tens of millions demanding that we return to the kind of government that used to be the envy of the rest of the world.

So very true! But also unfortunately, this has become a world in which some of the staunchest foes of “the entire slate of Republican presidential candidates” is doing their level best to savage Barack Obama and weaken his chances for re-election—even though they KNOW the result will be the election of someone like a Rick Santorum.

I repeated that notion because it seems so bizarre to me it defies comprehension.

The last person standing among this joke slate of the Republican presidential wanna-be’s absolutely must be defeated. That will not happen unless the opposition is united in its resistance to them. The time for that cohesion is YESTERDAY. But there are some who are still more interested in massaging their petty grievances than in insuring that the Republicans go down in ignominious defeat.

I hope everyone finally comes to their senses. As you said, “This struggle is getting personal. It's touching my family now.”

Well, Spiritman, it is touching every family now!
Well crafted piece and I just wish it was not so stingingly accurate, that we might be instead discussing some lost civilization, not our own country in the present day. That said, we must continue to speak out and point out as I said so many times when Bush was running against Gore, the emperor has no clothes. Meaning Bush was an ignorant piece of human ----- and while he stole the election, he was re-elected. Then we prevailed with sense with OBAMA, but now we deal with this puppetmasters again, this time the puppets are so ridiculous and dangerous, we seem to be getting boxed into a corner. I still scream out, the emperor has no clothes, no substance, no intelligence. It is almost we need someone in that party to rise up and say enough is enough and lead them properly, but that is not possible. They are consumed with power and greed, those who are the puppetmasters....
Well, you certainly spoke my own truth eloquently, Spirit! Bravo and amen. This is clearly not a sane world. There are only pockets of sanity amidst the insane.

My hope lies in the younger men and women of this nation. I have had the opportunity to speak with a diverse assortment of them. My overall impression is, even with our rapidly deteriorating public educational system, our failing eschewment of regulation and rule of law over unfettered corporatocratic greed and control, these young men and women are quite aware of what they're going through.

While many are unhappy with Obama, they recognize he is truly the lesser of two evils if evils they both be. The polls and statistics indicate the vast majority of the population of this country favors a more centrist and more tolerant approach to things like health care, same-sex marriages, social programs and rebuilding our infrastructure and even increased taxation schedules more closely reflecting the late 1950's and early 1960's when this country was at its productive best.

My only concern is that these centrists, these tolerant folks think that there's so much insanity that the idiots being paraded, instead will just not vote, thinking the rest of the sane people will take care of it for us.

My hope is that this last election cycle will awaken the majority of folks into realizing perhaps they'd best get to the polls and make sure that the world, this country and the politicians in it know where we all stand as a majority.

While I hope that, I don't necessarily expect it to happen. In either case, you can damn sure bet that I'm voting. I only didn't vote once in all the time I could and that was because I abstained against two unlikeable candidates in a more reasonable time. My only reason was so that, regardless which idiot it was I could honestly lay claim, "Well *I* didn't vote for that bastard."

Since then, while I have been essentially forced to do my best to choose between the lesser of two evils, I have conscientiously done my best to make that determination and vote accordingly.

Hang in there, man, I got your back.

I see so much forward movement in INDIVIDUALS that I don't know how anyone could not be optimistic. Sure, our government is whacked, but the flame out of the teabaggers points to the good. It's easy to spread fear, but once people become introduced to new people, new ways, new concepts the fear begins to erode. It takes time, but overwhelmingly people start to see through the B.S.
I am going to write my thank you note to Santorum right now!
Let us slap their cheeks bloody!!!!!

Spirit, I think your analysis is spot on. In your discussion of "a sane world," however, I might replace "sane" with "courageous." I think much of the complicity and silence results from cowardice on the part of many in the media who fear they will lose relevance.
This was a very gut clenching article and very well presented. You hit on the "silent majority" who may or may not) remain in fear and silence, while our entire culture implodes. Let's really hope they are not silent in November. Great post.
It's infuriating when journalists let politicians mouth their bald-faced lies and don't call them on it. Was it Anderson Cooper who finally kept pressing someone about the lies, using the word "lies"? America is now the land of Fact-Free Politics. But in spite of it all,I have great hope for the next election. This is one of the best of your posts that I've read. rrrrrr if I could.
Agnotology indeed! I will never understand how folks who claim to subscribe to equal rights, respect for humanity and the right to pursue happiness can turn full circle and deny those very things because they disagree with the expression of them. Did I mention love?
Here you go SMSF. The better response might be laughter and mockery. This dog and pony show fools no one with an I.Q. above 85. It’s not even good enough to classify as Kabuki Theater. See Bill Maher “Republican Debate Review” at the Huff Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-maher/republican-debate-review_b_1296036.html?ref=daily-brief?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=022312&utm_medium=email&utm_content=BlogEntry&utm_term=Daily%20Brief

It’s one laughing stock after another. Bill Maher shows there is no style better than Voltaire's for rendering pomposity mad in the face of pitiless mockery and the infectious laugh of malicious delight. Enjoy.

All I can say is that Obama must be secretly laughing his ass off as he watches this cavalcade of religious bigots self-destruct before our eyes. The would-be emperors have no cloths.
We're both too old to have any illusions about what the government of the United States used to be like. All the President's Men was on latenight cable last night and I'm reminded every time I watch that film how much was left out, and left out of the book for that matter. Like the fact that Deep Throat turned out to be the No. 2 at the FBI who had been passed over for a handpicked Nixon appointee, and how the entire thing, as ugly and malicious and criminal as Tricky and his minions were, was also a vendetta perpetuated by a spurned bureaucrat. His hurt feelings gave us a glimpse into the inner workings of a government that I rather think always worked that way. The Nixonites were just worse at hiding it, and too good at making enemies for their own good. Look at the hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations given to the Clinton "creeps" by an "Indonesian gardener." And the fact that before Ashcroft became Attorney General he was known as Asscroft for all the ass-kissing he did around Washington sniffing up everybody's skirt for a federal appointment. It's ugly stuff.

But yeah, something at the core of things has snapped recently, and it could have something to do with the hundreds of millions of dollars being funnelled into "security" for a handful of professional consultants. Don't here too much about that, though, from all the middle class commentators. Maybe they're waiting for their share.