Jefferson Sessions and the New Big Tent Party
Another take on Un-American
The term Un-American, in the current popular usage, usually refers back to HUAC, or the House Un-American Activities Commission. As such it is associated with Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy, McCarthyism and the Red Scare. HUAC actually started well before he was in office, goes back to the 1930’s and in a previous iteration was associated with J. Edgar Hoover and the Bureau. At that time, it was also associated with fighting home grown American variations of Communism, but it was also during this period that the War on Drugs officially starts.
McCarthy in the 1950’s ran what are known to history as the Army-McCarthy hearings, which were broadcast on the newly popular medium of TV as well as the old standby: radio. TV networks weren’t so well established back in the day. At the time, a popular TV maker, now defunct, also ran a TV network. So, in a sense, the network sold the TV sets and the TV sets helped popularize the network. The DuMont Television Network broadcast the televised hearings of Army-McCarthy, though not completely exclusively nor in their entirety.
Part of Hoover’s War on Drugs involved propaganda, using Hollywood tools to combat what he saw as a threat to the American way of life. And so we get Reefer Madness. Today we might think of these films as Teen Exploitation, Teensploitation.
Cocaine was still mainly considered medicinal, LSD had yet to be invented, let alone crystal meth. Bath salts were still used for baths. But after WWI, when cocaine was a battlefield medicine, it left many recent vets injured and addicted. The streets of New Orleans in the 1920’s, for instance, were reputedly littered with homeless doughboy cokeheads singing the cocaine blues, so much so that it became a national emergency at one point.
Hollywood comes of age during the Great Depression, desperate housewives eking out a living seeking escape for a few hours imagining themselves as countess or diva. In 1934 the Hayes Act prohibits the dissemination of illicit, immoral or pornographic material by mass media or otherwise. We now think of it as the Hayes Code, the forerunner to our MPAA ratings system. Prior to this era, referred to now as pre-Code Hollywood, some nudity was allowed in some pictures for general viewing, and some more mature work was released. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t great work being done during the institution of the code, but it is part of a larger story involving what is considered “decent” and appropriate and you know, American.
However, in the South, Jim Crow is in full swing and the KKK is on the march. Such that what is considered moral, appropriate, you know, civil, in the South in those days ends up affecting what the mores of the rest of the country are. Hypocrisy indeed.
Given the connection of the alt.right (what some call the Alt-Reich) to all things neo-Nazi, there arises a question of whether Jefferson Beauregard Sessions and his attempt to institute a martial-law police state is a throwback to the 50’s, or this previous incarnation of defining decency.
The connection of the “big tent” (read: big tent for a Klan gathering, masquerading as a a Southern Revivalist Methodist Meeting) of the new ascendant plurality which combines elements of The Teabag Coalition, intent on rolling things back to the founding fathers (except for the whole original thirteen colonies, masonic rituals, actual Federalism) with a mixed bag of deplorables: KKK, neo-nazis, white-nationalists, bigots, corporatists, neoconservatives, Fundamentalists to this administration’s attempts to wrap themselves in the flag, claiming ownership of the definition of “American” and the history of that in itself being defined by outlining what it isn’t casts a troubling shadow over the near future.
Revisionist Historians are always around, usually off in a nook of a dark corner in a bookstore, huddled in with True Crime and Odd Sized Books. But they are now officially in power, maybe for the first time. To the victor go the spoils. The root victor from the Greek is related to victuals and to victim. Because at a time in our ancient history these two concepts were related, war trophies were once literally the bodies of the enemy, to an even further time when humans in war participated in the sickest of depravities, actually eating parts of their victims. Spoils of war indeed.
History is written by the victors. But it often remains unchanged with a new star on the rise. Rewriting history is troublesome indeed. When this goes hand in hand with an attempt to demolish the modern American education system in place since the Robber Barons ran sweat shops with kids working up to twenty hours a day in mortality traps called factories, as young as thirteen, for pennies a day, without even the scantest of unionization protections, it means the future is in jeopardy as well.
Coca-Cola doesn’t want you knowing their history? Great, make it so you can be liable for attempting to change their Wikipedia page to include their true history. Then sell kids more Coke in school. School? What’s that? You mean Trump re-education camps? Where they learn the Holocaust may (or may not) have happened, depending on your point of view. That global warming might be due to Jehovah playing bowling, or it could be somewhat caused by manmade actions. That dinosaurs may or may not have roamed the earth 6000 years ago, still open to debate.