The Big Picture
by Glynn Wilson
MARGARETVILLE, Ala. — It is a lovely Sunday morning and amazingly quiet in the suburbs on this April Fool’s Day. The Carolina Wren’s are feeding new young in the hand-crafted birdhouse attached to the screened-in porch. They stop only occasionally between feedings to sing, and they sound about as happy as I feel with my new dog and best friend Jefferson laying at my feet.
If I didn’t know better, I would finish by saying “all’s right with the world.”
But you and I both know better.
As I peruse the headlines from my hand-made html news page, which may go the way of the Dodo bird soon and be replaced by a Word Press front page, and as I look through the Google alerts and other e-mails, I run across an interesting column from Phil Rockstroh, who calls himself a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City but who is from the South. He laments the fact that his white male Southern buddies cling to the Republican fantasy of “free-market capitalism,” while their jobs disappear and their lives diminish into a political bitterness they cannot seem to escape.
I write about this all the time from the heart of the battle here in the Heart of Dixie, and see all the time that these poor souls can’t even consider for a minute that the philosophy they have lived by for so many years might actually be dead wrong. They are being stabbed in the back on a daily basis by the very people they publicly support. They take aim with their gun sites at the people who are on their side, like me. Why?
They refuse to even read one single word of fact from someone they consider to be a “liberal,” while they listen to the same old prejudiced song and dance on the radio every day. As part sociologist, the only way I can explain this is that some people would rather have their false beliefs reinforced than to have someone they consider to be an “elitist,” especially one from New York (or who has ever been to New York, or worked for The New York Times), tell them the god’s honest truth.
Just yesterday, I was talking about this very thing on the cell phone with John Eves, the leader of UA Local 91, the plumbers and pipe-fitters union and the oldest union in Birmingham, Alabama. He recently got the approval of his membership to charter a bus to go to Montgomery this week to protest a bad bill under consideration by the Supermajority of Republicans in the Alabama Legislature. But he said only two people had signed up to go and protest.
We talked about the latest survey showing that 60 percent of union members in Alabama vote Republican. And the only reasons we could come up with are because either they vote on the basis of their religion, their racial prejudices, their love of guns or their hate for gay people.
Never mind that if public policy in this state and country were left to the current crop of tea party Republicans, there would be no unions, no minimum wage, no 40-hour work week, certainly no overtime pay. On top of that, all of today’s government services that most people support as critically necessary, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, would either be eliminated or privatized for profit.
This is no April Fool’s Day joke. Nor is it “liberal propaganda.” The Republicans don’t even try to hide it. They are promoting themselves by saying all this publicly. You can read it in any mainstream daily newspaper, watch it on any lame local television newscast and even hear it on talk radio.
How can the average working union man in Alabama listen to it and still support it? It is preached to them as if their own demise into poverty was the bonafide will of god, but they will not stand up and fight it. What’s up with that?
If we could get these guys onboard the program to change America for the better, the tea party Republicans would already be on the way out the door and we could create a new world order of our own making, not the one ballyhooed about on conspiracy theory Websites and documentaries. I just watched part of one last night on one of the History Channels, where even they debunk it in the end. You just can’t tell that for sure amidst all the promotional hype.
It is designed, like much of the news today, to let people form their own opinions. If they choose to believe there is a conspiracy, why authoritatively debunk it? They might not watch your channel anymore, and your advertisers would bolt.
That’s why you have to love the Web Press, where we can tell it like it is — and get away with it.
I don’t care if the right-wing radio shock jocks in Alabama read me or not. They wouldn’t be able to understand what I’m talking about anyway, because it does not read like a snappy, happy Newhouse column. That’s what they think news is supposed to look like. Anything else must not be journalism.
And now we are building an advertising base of folks who believe in what we are doing and have seen enough to know we strive to tell the truth — the consequences be damned. As we used to say, back when newspapers had honor, “let the chips fall where they may.”
Even if they all left it would not prevent us from publishing and sharing our links on Facebook. If you are not getting it yet, publishing on the Web is dirt cheap. What the advertising money is for is for expenses to get out in the field and do more real journalism.
If only more average working folks in the South would embrace these facts and stop turning to the news outlets that titillate and lie to them on a regular basis, we might change this place. It will happen one of these days in the not too distant future — whether anybody likes it or not.
Old ideas, philosophies and prejudices dissipate naturally over time. It just takes time.
As a poet, Mr. Rockstroh should know this. He probably does. It just might not happen until his friends are dead and gone.
© 2012 – 2015, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.