All Dreamers Die

Joe Bageant, Alive in 2009
I just sort of fiddle-fart and shamble around a notion, eyeballing it, speculating on it, and then cough up some sort or musing -- mostly mental phlegm – onto the keyboard and hit the send button. Sometimes without even showing the common courtesy of using spell check or even rereading it. Which makes me either an arrogant old prick or just a slob. Probably both.

Joe Bageant, author of “Deer Hunting With Jesus” and newly released “Rainbow Pie” and pundit extraordinaire, died Saturday March 26 after a four month bout with cancer. I feel like my voice is gone.

All my life I’ve been an idealist, quick to spot the wrongs in our world and strive to set them right. In the 60’s the most blatant sin was the Vietnam War. I threw myself wholeheartedly into the throng of protesters, hoping our collective voices would put an end to the carnage.

Thirty years later, the spread of easily shared information via the world wide web including endless venues for online protest, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the many wrongs in our world today. There isn’t just one cause, there are dozens. Which one will I pick this week and how much difference will it make when we are all are railing about separate issues?

I once asked my idealistic cousin Tommy who is ten years older than I, “Where in the world do we (idealists) go to fit in?” His answer: “There is no place in the world for idealists.”

My father was an idealist. He lost his shot at tenure at Monmouth College in 1969 when he helped stage a protest in which his students pelted a General onstage with marshmallows. He was asked to turn in his resignation and soon found that no other college in either New Jersey or New York would hire him after what he’d done.

Dad ultimately moved my mother and us six kids to a place he described as the “Armpit of the Universe” and even though I suffered at the hands of my new school mates who didn’t understand my clothes and accent, I was beamingly proud of what he’d done.

My husband, Bob has always followed his heart on political matters, quitting a lucrative job after being admonished by his superior for joining a protest rally. He was working at Tecnetics, a company that made power supplies for cruise missiles, and had gotten his picture in the newspaper marching in protest of Gulf War I.

Bob is now an educator who isn’t afraid to bring the truth to light for his students and show them where to go to express their indignation. It’s been said that you marry either your mother or your father and I see that I married a man who isn’t afraid to stand up for his ideals.

Of late, social networking has brought to light a bizillion causes, all clamoring for my involvement. Pretty much everything is either corrupt or broken; from GMO’s to War, to Wall Street, to our justice system, to Corporate Rights, to Election Reform, to Food Bills, to Education and Health Care.

So many causes, so little time to protest. Confused and dis-empowered I look back on the Viet Nam protests with nostalgia.  I find myself missing the focus of that movement, mourning our collective lack of focus and pissed off that things have gotten much worse. That’s where pundits like Bageant stepped in and gave voice to my outrage.

Bob and I have read the copy of “Deer Hunting With Jesus” that lives at our local library and our copy of “Rainbow Pie” is on order. Meanwhile, I’ll be mining Bageant’s many splendid essays for great quotes like these.

Liberal activism is sort of like sending a rabbit to sell wolves on the benefits of veganism.

The slaves are free to elect their masters, and that is enough to satisfy most folks in the land of the free. That, along with 100-plus cable channels to keep us entertained inside the cage. We know we are powerless, but better the devil you know than evil socialism, where you are not allowed to take out a second mortgage on your cage.

Workers in industrialized nations are so busy begging for jobs and wages enough to keep them in meaningless commodities and gadgets (which only shift more money to corporations) they cannot see the forest for the trees.

In the corporately managed theater state, it’s not whether a thing is true that matters, but how it sounds and looks and what you call it. Call end of life counseling a “death panel,” and you’ve just turned mercy and choice into one more Great Satan.

Lies for the sake of generating emotion enough to destroy reason have been a mainstay of American politics from the beginning.

So why did American liberals believe Obama would bring home the healthcare bacon? Because they live in an ideological cupcake land. It’s a big neighborhood, a very special place where “Your vote is important,” and “by electing the right candidate, you can change our beloved nation.

Appearing cheerful is vital in a society where all of life is monitored by an employer, a credit rating bureau or the media’s projection of the world, and mediated by the financialization of life’s every aspect.

A potato is just a potato until people sweating over belt lines and giant fryers turn it into Tater Tots.

Just as we started ballyhooing the triumph of America Consumer Capitalism over Communism, the world’s ecology started backing up like a redneck septic tank.Cultural ignorance dictates that the best way to stop foreign terrorists flying into the country is by humiliating American citizens flying out of the country. Go ahead, grope me, X-ray my dick and for god sake don’t let anyone bring a large bottle of shampoo on board. In an obedient, authority worshiping police state, physical insult and surveillance are proof of safety.

Unfortunately, Americans get laughed off the map for being overly human these days, dubbed emotional pussies, part of the Kumbaya crowd, unrealistic utopians — and if you are sincerely human enough, get your ass kicked by the system.


By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

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