Psst-watch out for those reds

Hungarians topple Stalin statue (photo from Wikipedia)

On Saturday, October 23, my eleven-year-old daughter finished her soccer game as clouds skidded across the sky. I said to our coach, Janos, who is Hungarian but came to the United States on a soccer scholarship years ago, “Happy Revolution Day.” My husband, whose father escaped Hungary in 1956, likes to make pörkölt, a kind of gulash, in commemoration. I think of Pierre, our friend in Paris, whose father survived communist prison camps, privation, and escape attempts.

Janos turned to our star soccer player’s mom, who was talking about her husband being from Cleveland. “I hated Cleveland!” Janos said, “It was awful! I was ready to go back to Communism after living there!”

I think all Hungarians have a penchant for hyperbole, but the soccer mom went one further, and said, “You don’t need to, Obama is bringing communism here, the direction this country is heading!”

Communism isn’t an abstraction to survivors of the Soviet takeover and their descendants. Russian tanks rattled into Budapest and the entire community rose up in protest, staving off bewildered soldiers for three wildly glorious days until the Red army rallied and crushed the opposition. My father-in-law is full of harrowing stories, including when he and his sister were nearly executed one evening, after getting caught bringing dinner to the resistance.

But at the mention of communism this fine Fall Saturday, the soccer mom went off. “Yeah, look at what Obama’s doing, all his scary socialist policies, he’s leading this country into hell….”

Janos had the temerity to say, “I am socialist to his bone”–look at Sweden, look at France, Germany, he said, all the other developed counties that provide decent healthcare, education, and so on. The soccer mom is probably so scandalized, who knows–maybe she’ll pull her daughter from the team to prevent further infection.

What Obama wants is not communism, let alone true socialism. It’s common sense and human decency for a society to provide its citizens basic needs.

What Obama wants is not communism: It’s common sense and human decency for a society to provide its citizens basic needs.

As I puzzle over the Tea Party madness boiling the brains of excitable people, I think of Irma, our weekly luxury and savior who helps clean our house each week (it used to take us the entire weekend to do it ourselves, and she can whip through in five or six hours). Irma told me this morning she cancelled her health insurance because it cost almost $500 a month. She could no longer afford it. That’s about what we pay her for her help. In the five years I’ve known her, I don’t think she’s taken a vacation. When she’s sick I tell her not to come, although we pay her every week regardless. A lot of times, she still comes to work even if she doesn’t feel well, perhaps for her own sense of job protection.

“What about the new health care bill that finally passed?” I asked. “Can’t you get something there?” She shook her head. She didn’t know where or how to get that. She doesn’t qualify for medicare.

The woman works hard. She’s a good person. Her father immigrated from the Mexican state of Nayarit, and the whole family works long hours to help support each other and their humble life here. They pay taxes, all of them.

She and other Americans should have better protection; folks like her anchor and contribute to this society. If the Tea Bagger soccer mom has her way, Irma will lose her only hope for insurance, whenever and wherever and however that kicks in. And the soccer mom can drive off into the sunset in her giant SUV, thankful that she has successfully fought off what she thinks is communism.

The Tyranny of the Stupid Class

Education of the Stupid Classes: Kansas church teaches children to hate

Times like these I want to move to another planet: Polls that show what many Americans really think (“think” being an exaggeration, more like reptilian cogitation). Glenn Beck, Sarah-beyond-the-Pale-in and her ghastly illogic, Tea Baggers, the entire ilk of reptilian cogitators who invade our headlines with their unnewsworthiness. I am still reeling from the Kansas church protestors who came to San Diego, and a child in their congregation–a child– hoisted a sign that said God Hates Gays and Jews.

These people are comprehensive in their incomprehensible ignorance.

It’s the tyranny of the Stupid Classes. Makes me feel so lonely and afraid and shoved into my well-read corner: I can only hope the other quiet people have got the other three. By quiet I mean not making useless noise.

“Liberals” are not just an “educated elite”–we’re just busy reading, thinking, doing, creating, hoping that these mouthy people will crawl back under their planks, go back to their fecund festering dark places; knowing they always erupt in Bruegelian periodicity when the economy sours, when we need scapegoats, when we need labels for chaos and uncertainty.

The whining mewling and frighteningly powerful stupid classes. I tell myself they have their points, they have a few reasonable concerns (the fear of any government wielding too much power). They don’t articulate well (“Obama is the Antichrist”? Global Warming is a hoax? Obamacare is Socialism, complete with Hitler mustache? Gutted and pathetic as the Healthcare bill is, it pales in comparison to what other advanced countries offer its tax-paying citizens). I tell myself that the Noisy People’s ghastly opinions and commentary come from a lamentable lack of awareness, global understanding, basic education (leaving aside scary hidden agendas and a dark desire to manipulate): Lamentations of “Obamacare” feed right into the for-profit insurance companies who are all too ready to exploit the underinformed.

What’s chilling is that some corporations are using the Stupid Classes to fuel their own commercial agendas and have the money to incite stupidity, leaving us all in their yacht wake of political devastation. Don’t get me wrong. I like to sail as much as anybody, but I will never fill my sails with Global Warming Gassy hot air.

A little integrity please. A little integrity.

I am not of the educated elite. I put myself through an inexpensive State university, which was all I thought I could afford at the naive age of 17 (otherwise, hell yes, I would have gone to Stanford or Yale and if not there, Berkeley), worked hard, studied hard, and continue to read and think past my advanced degree. It’s not so hard, really; in fact, thinking is painless. My grandfather, with his sixth-grade education, read widely and understood far more than the bobble-head rabble-rousers inciting unreason and recruiting membership in the Stupid Classes.

Results from a new Harris Poll:
• 67 percent of Republicans (and 40 percent of Americans overall) believe that Obama is a socialist.
• 57 percent of Republicans… (32 percent overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim
• 45 percent of Republicans (25 percent overall) agree with the Birthers in their belief that Obama was “not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president”
• 38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is “doing many of the things that Hitler did”
• 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama “may be the Antichrist.”