There is too a real Rip Van Winkle. In fact there are many of them. You see them everywhere in the sleepy hollows of America. They are the Tea Partiers and other born-again conservatives. Asleep for decades, now suddenly awake and full of fight and hate and all-knowing.
You know who you are, you latter-day Rips. You are the ones who say you want your country back. You want an America as it used to be. Whatever that was.
But I ask, where were you 30 years ago when “your country” began to unravel with the false-god of the right, Ronald Reagan? Reaganomics and its corporate afterbirth have killed the soul of America. We are little more now than a nation of sheep, following the bidding of giant corporations and try to amass personal wealth by slitting the throats of our neighbors.
While you slept, Your Country grew a heart of ice, a mind more than ever filled with meaness and hatred and irrationality, its eye focused on material gain. Your Country has become the epitomy of the corporate world. Dog eat dog. It is all coming to fruitition now. None of you knows about teamwork.
And where were you after 9/11 that you turned listless and scared, and sang “God Bless America” and did not ask for a full accounting of how a few fanatics with box cutters could commandeer airplanes and easily strike at the heart of Your Country, the so-called greatest country in the world?
Where were you when Your Country promised to bring down the perpetrators of 9/11 in Afghanistan, then suddenly veered to a needless and tragic war in Iraq, killing our children and grandchildren for no other reason than oil and political gain? Iraq offered better targets, we were told. Yes, while Bin Laden dwelled unpunished in Tora Bora.
Where was your outrage when conservatives on the Supreme Court decided the presidential election in 2000?
Where too was your outrage when Your Country used their corporate friends, the telecoms, to spy on you in the name of fighting terrorism? Where was the outrage at torturing prisoners, at allowing one of the footstones of democracy, habeas corpus, to be swallowed up again in the name of terrorism? If you were not asleep then you had pulled the pillow over your head.
Where was your outrage when in 2008 the Bush administration began doling out vast amounts of taxpayer money to save the big banks, the very institutions conservatives had allowed to go unchecked and were “too big to fail?”
Where were you all these years when Your Country’s addiction to drugs got so out of control that the cartels in Mexico threaten now to take over the U.S. border?
Where were you when the lawn needed mowing and you decided to hire it done, turning a blind-eye to the possibility the workers may be illegal immigrants? Where were you when your neighbors, the small business owners, hired illegals to make their Reagan dreams come true?
Sean Hannity, the patronizing ultra-right wing propagandist and radio talk-show host, recently played a tape in which an 35-year-old woman in Pennsylvannia confronted her seantor, Arlen Specter, at what I believe was a townhall meeting. She was new to politics, she said, and railed at Specter. Liberals, she said, had raped the Constitution.
“You’ve awakened a sleeping giant. We want our country back.”
The gall of this woman, I thought, to think she had suddenly arisen from her deep sleep as a full-blown constitutional scholar.
Where are you now as Hannity and the right-wing propagandists suck up to you, eager to bring you into the fold, into the party of the few, the party of the big corporations, the GOP? Where are you now that you don’t see whose policies really brought on the economic crisis, the huge deficits?
It seems so very strange that the sleepers among you have developed into political activists only after Your Country elected a black president. I understand your fears, the panic of facing the fact that America is not as white as it used to be, that you may soon lose the superiority you once took comfort in, that you may have to blend in and someday, oh my god, racially inter-marry on a grand scale.
I’m sorry. You slept too long, you latter-day Rips. You awoke naive and now, unable to think clearly, you do more damage to Your Country than you can imagine. It is too late. Even if your silliness and naivete win in the short-term, you will never be able to take back Your Country. It will never be the same.