Just yesterday, I was attending a meeting at the local burgh hall. Very rainy, steamy, humid Saturday afternoon with a weak cup of coffee kind of affair.
As our speaker was going through her community presentation, the doors leading into the next room started banging and clanging. Speech from folks greeting each other began to build to a crescendo until everyone had apparently arrived. I noticed a proud billow in the voices, perhaps a lodge meeting kind of tone.
Just as suddenly as the noise had started, a quiet once again occupied the corridors, until music began to blare from an overtaxed portable tape player. At once, all the go-ers began to belt, in highly un-unified tones, ‘ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS‘. Aside from the fact that the next-door group was now drowning out our own meeting, my heart sank with every note. Personally, I’ve had enough of propaganda, be it Christian, Zionist, Muslim, Neo-Nazi, Neo-Conservative, Radical Feminist or from the people who plaster our world with tabloid mediocrity.
Then, to my further horror, a voice erupted from the tape the go-ers were listening to…a voice that can only be born in Southern America (the part that still hasn’t figured out that the South lost the American Civil War, or that Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11). It was the sound of a voice that has turned my stomach for over forty years: a nasal hillbilly screeching about ‘The Lard’, not unlike the ignorance of GW Bush’s ‘Nukular’.
To top off the rude intrusion of the next-door go-ers, was the topic of the sermon, falling right in line with the tabloid bourgeois: gay marriage. How original. The nasal preacher proceeded to go on and on about ‘man and woman, Adam and Eve’ with all the trappings of the illiterate majority.
When in Rome, bite your lip. I did. But it was difficult. I wondered: would this room full of Brits pretend not to hear this if the Hillbilly was not posing as a preacher and instead was delivering a Black-Shirt hate speech?
I left the room as quickly as I could. I was angry, and worse, a certain chill entered my bones: one I hadn’t felt since I first saw sub-humans picketing funerals of soldiers from Iraq. As I passed the windows outside, I made little attempt to hide – and looked pointedly through the windows at the brethren. It was a room made up of a dozen or so sixtysomethings, but one woman caught my eye in particular: at least eighty or ninety, pure white hair hunched well forward, her head at a ninety degree angle to her wheelchair.
At this, I became furious. Seeing the old woman reminded me of my own grandmother, who is now ninety years old, and her mother, who I knew well, who lived to an hundred and three. Not long ago, my aunt, who was visiting my grandmother, decided to drive her to her Sunday School class at the local Baptist Church, where she, with nothing much else to do, decided to sit in.
What my aunt discovered that day in the foothills of North Carolina was as shocking for her as my afternoon yesterday in Scotland: a so-called Sunday School Teacher, blithering on and on about the danger of the ‘homa-seksials’ and how they would bring down the wrath of the Almighty.
My question is: WHAT THE HELL? Is the right-wing so desperate, so out-of audiences that it has turned to upsetting and psychologically traumatising our older generation? The answer: yes.
What better way to further a losing agenda than to turn what should be a loving relationship between the very old and the very young into a platform for their campaigns of hate? It does not matter if someone is gay or straight, religious, spiritual or agnostic – be warned. These people will stop at nothing, and at a vulnerable time such as a recession, much like the time Hitler made his stand and carried the vote, not to mention the youth, it’s time for vigilence and action.
And, don’t be fooled, the keepers of mediocrity — the Centrists, masquerading as Liberals, are not protecting anyone. They’re more concerned with Political Correctness, and policing words like ‘gollywog’ and drafting more ‘health and safety’ legislation — which only fuels the fundamentlist flames — fear, Fear, FEAR.
I’ve always had a love of older people In street terms: they know shit. They’re fun to be around, good with children, survived wars and camps and missile crisis’. Perhaps it was when my Grandfathers stepped in for my mostly absent father — another by-product of the hypocritical 60s. Or when my Great Grandmother encouraged me to dream, work hard, and dream some more.
Or today, when the publisher of some of the most important 19th Century literature, and activist for the real arts — who at 82 has plenty of other things to do — takes an active interest in me as a writer and editor, in a publishing world swimming in patronage, lukewarm content and a conspiratorial disdain for cultural dialog. There are very few people in the Western world who do not have some access to older people – a wealth of knowledge, experience and insight to be had for the price of a cup of tea.
On a practical side: Instead of sitting back and watching the illiterate fundamentalists take over the world by traumatising our older people, and allowing the corporate media to turn our children into whores, it’s time to get active. On the small front, close the clubs, gay and straight, for one Saturday per month and channel that manpower back into communities; black out TV service one evening per month and call people out of their overpriced cubicles. On a larger front, 2-year public service in the US and UK is terribly overdue — which would be a major deterrent to the underpinnings of a new insidious facism that is forming under our very feet, right now.
On a moral side: No matter what side of the marriage debate an individual takes, subjecting older people to skewed propaganda serves no purpose whatever, especially with no room for open debate or discussion. Children are starving worldwide, AIDS and other diseases are rampaging less-fortunate nations…and this is where the failed policy makers of the right-wing have chosen to spread their “message”. This, from the so-called keepers of the good news.