RURAL ROUTES/Margot Ford McMillen

Resistance to Change

Why do they hate America? Those right-wing talk show blabbermouths with their seductive certainties: They tell their ditto head listeners that anyone could run things better than the current administration, that the stimulus package will make us Marxists, that the President should be impeached. Like schoolyard bullies, they’re calling the President out, and when he comments on them, he loses. When he doesn’t, the taunts get more and more outrageous. They pull Republican Congressmen into the conversations and those gentlemen of the hallowed halls, seduced by the idea that they’re talking to millions, that’s right, millions of listeners, agree with anything the so-called “host” says.

When one of these alleged “hosts” gets a phone caller, the poor caller is pandered or insulted, and then cut off so the “host” can continue his own harangue. The one true talent of these guys is the ability to never admit to any doubt. If you are scared of the future, it’s a relief to hear someone that has it all figured out.

There’s only one way, dear friends, that this nation will recover from the bumbling and meanness of the Bush administration, and that’s to get behind the best plan we have. We won’t have a recovery in one year, on that we can all agree. But the stimulus package, while not perfect, is our best shot for longterm benefits.

The certainty of the right wing talkers, coupled with their willingness to pick up one mantra and repeat it repeatedly means that any road-raged kid can memorize the lines while swerving through traffic. And there’s a pounding rock music beat, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but no fun at all. The closest they get to humor is a line like, “You can keep the change.”

And in the following space, I had planned to put a bunch of quotes. But after a day of listening and surfing their web pages, I ended up so angry that I decided not to put any names in print. That anger—it moved from their voices to my interior self. That’s how it works. The only way to get rid of these guys is to marginalize them like the sad old Nazis that occasionally apply for a parade permit. Give them the permit, then go to the parade and see how pathetic they are.

And now, after five minutes of tirade, we break for ten minutes of commercials, again delivered in the declarative. They only speak in the declarative, whether it’s to slam the arts endowment or to sell gold coins to the insecure. They all have stuff to sell, including their autobiographies. One web page offers survival kits, buckets of packaged chemicals and vitamins to stash in the emergency closet. I guess that’s so you can survive the socialists that are coming to get you. And check out the “I’d rather be waterboarding” t-shirt.

And now, back to the tirade: Name calling and unsupported assertions are the tactics of folks that want a fight. Obama should never let the names of these fellows cross his lips.

A fight with the administration would bring these ditto heads attention and support their assertions that America is no longer the land of the free. Maybe, they think, they’d even get some advertisers. Because the ten minutes of commercials are for overpriced things nobody needs. Radio programs near Valentine’s Day hawked roses by mail, pajamas, teddy bears and mattresses. Then there are the books, the live appearances in a town near you. There are pitches to go to a website and incorporate yourself to get instant credit. And, oh yeah, those gold coins.

Living in a red state, I hear the stations played on construction sites, in retail stores, even in the bank. Since I’m old enough to be bitchy, I tell the bosses that I’m insulted when I hear a radio commentator slamming our leaders. “I can’t tell my employees not to listen to the news,” said the manager of a pet store where I went to buy supplies for our three aging dogs and three feisty cats, “this is America.” The manager and I agreed to disagree, but I’m spending my free-speech Ben Franklins elsewhere.

These channels come on in hotels, airports, doctor’s offices, gyms or anywhere else that people think they’ll be bored. Let the managers know when you’re offended. When I complained at the bank, the manager agreed instantly that nobody should have a radio at their desk at all, especially with piped-in music to enjoy. So I guess I’ll keep my account there.

When my favorite plumber tuned to the far-right station, I told him to change it or leave. We have enough plumbing problems on the farm to be a valued customer so now, at least when I’m within range, he’s tuned to the classical station, plumbing to the strains of the Blue Danube Waltz. He’s told me he enjoys it and I choose to believe that.

Our closest pizza place, owned by a patriotic, but linguistically challenged, Greek immigrant, switched from Fox to the sports channel. Well, I’m cranky enough to dislike the sports channel also, so I’ll take that order to-go. And I’ll keep the change.

Margot Ford McMillen farms and teaches English at a college in Fulton, Mo. Email:

From The Progressive Populist, March 1, 2009

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