It turns out that in 1980, when
Reagan was running against Jimmy Carter for President, Republican leaders worked
behind the back of the US Government to obstruct negotiations to free American
hostages held in Teheran. Carter’s failure to achieve release helped propel Reagan into the Presidency –
on the back of apparent Republican treason, it turns out. This revelation, or rather confirmation of a suspicion common among informed Democrats and liberals at the time, not only sheds genuine light on St. Ronald Reagan, more importantly, it shows the patriotism of the modern right for the lie that it is. (From a narrowly Pagan perspective, below the fold you will also see how this manipulation has obscured our own roots in American culture.)
One of the most frustrating
accomplishments that the nihilists of the religious right and their secular
allies have accomplished is to destroy our ability to communicate over public
issues. They have done so by
claiming ‘values,’ ‘patriotism,’ ‘manliness,’ and ‘strength’ belong only to
them and that words like ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’ are somehow un-American.
They have hidden much of our history from us while elevating the villains and hiding the genuine representatives of America’s values. There is the wonderful cultural upwelling between the War of 1812 to the Civil War that was the origin of so much that was good that bloomed again in the 60s and 70s. The first major spiritual movement beyond Christianity, including much that will look familiar, Environmentalism, Feminism, a national anti-war movement that included Abraham Lincoln,and much more. You can get a glimpse of that period in Sarah Pike’s great New Age and NeoPagan Religions in America. It opened my eyes.
They have taught us the falsehood
that the Civil War was not over slavery – making it incomprehensible. They have made
entire sections of our history invisible, for example the Southerners who opposed slavery and the hundreds thousands who even fought for the union. A few of the genuine Southern heroes can be read about here (a good place to start) and here and here and here. Good has been turned into bad or made invisible, while the morally deficient or depraved defenders of chattel
slavery have been made into heroes
We Pagans should be particularly sensitive to this issue. No other spiritual tradition has had its true nature so obscured, its true past so distorted, as we have. And for similar purposes of legitimating domination by the powerful over others. Much of the knowledge of the West’s Classical Civilization has been lost forever and much that we have now we possess only because it escaped the Church’s attempt at total destruction. The same is happening to the best of our past, the American revolution and the major principles that animated it.
A decent culture can be slowly
transformed into an evil catastrophe by playing on its weakest links. For serious students of what threatens
us today, I recommend Claudia Koonz’s fascinating The Nazi Conscience. It explains how decent Germans were slowly transformed into people who, in the
name of moral values, could accept and often endorse the actions of the Third
Liberals and just plain Americans
have treated the spokespeople of the ‘conservative’ movement as if they were
fellow citizens who simply see the world differently. And this is true for the rank and file, who believe their
leaders to be truthful men and women.
But the leaders are neither patriotic nor honest, and this information about
what Republicans were and continue to be willing to do to gain power should be
made as public as possible.