I just don’t know what it is about Republicans and the 1950′s, but you may rest assured it isn’t the top tax rate of 91%, the high rate of unionization, or even Ike and Mamie. No, the things they like about the 1950′s are all the things normal people recognize today as, tacky, retrograde, and short-sighted. Segregation, suburban sprawl, social conformity, DDT, atomic anything, apron-clad housewives, gas guzzlers, and Joe McCarthy; these are the things that, to the admittedly addled Republican mind, made America great.
This weird and selective nostalgia became clear during the dark and equally discredited George W. Bush era, when “the 60′s” became shorthand for everything that went wrong with America to this day. If only a re-imagined past before darkies, hippies, and broads got so uppity could be somehow restored, everything would be, well, hunky-dory. Never mind that the reason so many 1950′s notions fell by the wayside was because they had failed so catastrophically; devastating urban riots exposed the racial and class divides that emptied out and impoverished once-prosperous cities, choking smog and rivers catching fire made a mockery of “progress” that relied on heedless environmental destruction, a futile and bloody war cost 58,000 Americans and countless southeast Asians their lives, and a merciless pogrom against purported domestic “enemies” ruined hundreds of lives and careers while “exposing” a few romantic malcontents whose only crime was once wanting a better world than what was being relentlessly advertised on the TV.
Former war criminal and current fascist nutcase Allen West (R-Florida) is too young and too stupid to have any real grasp of what the McCarthy era was actually like, but he nonetheless embraces it with both pistol-whipping arms. Forget sock hops, tail fins and Leave it to Beaver; what makes West long for the age before Aquarius is the sleazy showmanship of a booze-addled lowlife from Wisconsin whose name is synonymous with fear-mongering and character assassination. Ronald Reagan, who first popularized nostalgia for an airbrushed version of the 50′s, at least did so from the perspective of actually have been there; today’s 50′s fetishists have no such excuse.
If West had two brain cells to rub together, he would realize that his very presence in the House is a product of the racial progress that finally began in the 1960′s, just as the fact that he’s able to live in, much less represent, a suburban district in a Jim Crow state like Florida would have been impossible without the pioneering efforts of, gasp, the Communist Party, which in his idealized mid-century was virtually alone in championing equal rights for black Americans. Ignorance, in this case, is the opposite of bliss; it’s just ignorance.
But not for West, who proudly told an audibly groaning audience that “78-81″ members of Congress were members of the Communist Party, by which he meant members of the Progressive Caucus. Forgive him for conflating “progressive” and “communist;” what little he knows he learned from Glenn Beck. Actual commies, to their credit, were pretty unimpressed, (from Politico:) “I just think it’s an absurd way to cast a shadow over his colleagues. It’s kind of a sad ploy,” Libero Della Piana, a vice-chairman of the national Communist Party, said of the Florida Republican’s charge that about 80 House Democrats were members of the radical party.
Undaunted, a West flunky, which is considerably worse than just a regular flunky, doubled down, not unexpectedly. He whined to, who else, The Daily Caller:
“One stupid reporter with a local publication misquoted the entire thing, and they all jumped on one press account without verifying,” said West’s campaign manager Tim Edson, referring to the original report in the Palm Beach Post . “It’s all typical West Wing marching orders for their friends in the press.”
Edson continued: “The real point is these people speak for themselves, and if you listen to the words of the Progressive Caucus it’s clear that these people are opponents of capitalism — they oppose free markets, they oppose individual economic freedom — so you can call them whatever you want — whether they’re socialists or Marxists or communists.” To “prove” his point, whatever that could have been, he released the above video, which is anything but exculpatory.
Who, pray tell, are they calling stupid?