The headline is a little misleading – Fear and occupation in red America, In Wyoming and Idaho, the movement confronts a conservative reality. The OWS movement is doing better in deep red western states than those only familiar with the region through hearsay might imagine. There is an element of libertarianism in OWS which makes it semi palatable to some western conservatives. Though that particular strain of libertarianism just happens to be part of what libertarian anarchists in 19th century Europe borrowed from liberalism – the injustice of those with a lot of power via money and political connections playing games with the lives of average people. Though you’re bound to find a few of these,
One talked, the other snickered. The talker wore a red Harley-Davidson jacket and a salt-and-pepper poof of hair and drooping mustache. He was haranguing the snickerer, Jon Howard, a “marginally employed” stagehand, about whether the Boise occupation was legal, and Jon said it was. The talker wanted to know whether they were paying for the electricity they were using on the grounds of the old Ada County Courthouse, and Jon said they were. A moment earlier I had sensed the tension and bounded over, looking for a reason to escape the wild-eyed “home-church” Christian pastor I had made the mistake of engaging.
It didn’t take long for the talker to get a look at me and launch into an “all you left-wing supporters of Obama” monologue. I mentioned I was an out-of-town observer and asked if he was with the Tea Party.
“I’m a conservative. And an American,” he said.
I had put my notepad and pen away, not wanting to spook him. He returned to complaining about the legality of the occupation. I asked him if one should follow the legal mandates of an illegal government.
“Well, you petition them.”
“If that doesn’t work?” I asked.
“Petition them again.”
“So is that why Tea Party members show up to rallies with guns?”
He fell silent, and his friend stopped snickering.
“Well,” he said slowly, “it’s going to come down to that, eventually.”
Perhaps realizing that he was talking about violent overthrow after complaining that Occupy Boise might not be paying for the $4 of electricity a month it was using, he decided to go for broke.
“He wasn’t even born in America,” he said, referring to the president. Squinting and pointing upward he added, “Obama needs to be hung from that tree over there.”
They never mention that “conservative” “Americans” name, so let’s just call him CA. Where and how or why did CA come to have his opinions. What did Obama do exactly to deserve hanging. He didn’t lie over 4000 Americans to their deaths. Another president did that. Obama didn’t let Wall Street crash – Wall Street and conservative government regulators let that happen. Obama has bungled helping out Americans with foreclosures, but people like CA say they don’t need government help, so that could hardly be an issue for him. Why the ridiculous idea that somehow conservatives are more American than anyone else. based on what rational evidence. Liberals fought and won the last war worth fighting. Nixon and Henry Kissinger maliciously, with forethought betrayed America with their handling of the Vietnam conflict. Reagan was willing to trade weapons for hostages during the Iran hostage crisis. One of the great myths of right now in American history is that a we have some kind of national debt crisis. No, we have a revenue crisis caused by conservatives. Not to pick on CA. The south is changing, but if you close your eyes and toss a jelly bean, you’re still very likely to hit someone a lot like CA. They do not know things as much as they believe things. And this core phenomenon is not exclusive to the USA. Around the world more people believe in magic than believe in evolution.
CA and his friends live in the echo chamber. The echoes merely bounces back what he wants to hear. No new information is allowed in much less assimilated.
Blame that on the media, say occupiers. Zegan says, “People just don’t know what’s going on or they just hear about it from Fox News.”
Larry Struempf grew up on his parents’ cattle ranch near Laramie, which is infamous as the site of the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard in 1998. The 41-year-old Struempf describes his parents as “extreme GOP members.” Of his six siblings, he says, those “who went to college became liberal. The ones who didn’t remained conservative.” He says “many, many people in the community are extremely against the Occupy Movement.” The press, especially Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, portrays occupiers “as all unemployed, people who want to mooch off society, that are trying to just have the wealthy people give the poor people their money.”
In Laramie, Struempf explains, “It’s so much easier, even if you do support [the Occupy movement], to just be quiet.” He adds, “It’s scary. Times are hard, even though Wyoming is doing well. If you lose your job, you lose your house, you go live on the streets, and it’s not a forgiving environment.”
A 12-year resident of Laramie, Lindy Murphy was laid off recently from the U.S. Postal Service. She says her co-workers would bad-mouth the union.
“Nobody seemed to understand that the union was what gave them these great jobs,” she said. “They played Rush Limbaugh over the radio at the post office when we were sorting mail. When you got into the mail vehicle the radio was tuned to Rush Limbaugh. It was very much part of the culture.”
Why do so many people listen to and believe in the modern political equivalent of witch doctors, fakirs and snake oil salesmen. Part of the reason is fear. It is also a lot for someone to consider that a major political party and its leaders would in fact betray their country – thus many conservatives still believe Iraq had something to do with 9-11. When Seeing IS Believing
New research published in the journal Science explains why individuals seek to find and impose order on an unruly world through superstition, rituals and conspiratorial explanations by linking a loss of control to individual perceptions. The research finds that a quest for structure or understanding leads people to trick themselves into seeing and believing connections that simply don’t exist.
[ ]…“The less control people have over their lives, the more likely they are to try and regain control through mental gymnastics,” said Galinsky. “Feelings of control are so important to people that a lack of control is inherently threatening. While some misperceptions can be bad or lead one astray, they’re extremely common and most likely satisfy a deep and enduring psychological need.”
The control issue seems to be part of the fear issue and it is as difficult to convince someone they do not have as much control as they think as it is to push back against the superstitions. CA decides what he’ll have for lunch and what he’ll listen to on the radio, so he and his cohorts must be in control of their lives, right?
The specter of one’s imminent death would have a way of clearing the fog. Too bad the end of life is what it takes for some to have an epiphany about the present – K-State research project offers insight into superstitious behavior
People who believe that fate and chance control their lives are more likely to be superstitious — but when faced with death they are likely to abandon superstition altogether, according to a recent Kansas State University undergraduate research project.
[ ]…After performing two studies, the researchers developed three reasons for superstitious behavior: individuals use superstitions to gain control over uncertainty; to decrease feelings of helplessness; and because it is easier to rely on superstition instead of coping strategies.
“People sometimes fall back on their superstitions as a handicap,” Saucier said. “It’s a parachute they think will help them out.”
[ ]…In the second study the researchers wanted to know how participants reacted to death, and asked them to write about how they felt about their own death. The team was surprised to find that participants’ levels of superstition went down when they thought about their own death, which the researchers attributed to death being a situation of extreme uncertainty.
“We theorized that when people thought about death, they would behave more superstitiously in an effort to gain a sense of control over it,” Fluke said. “What we didn’t expect was that thinking about death would make people feel helpless — like they cannot control it — and that this would actually reduce their superstitious belief.”
It may not be much consolation for the things they do or say, or the hurtful policies they vote for, but people such as Limbaugh, O’Reilly and Main St. conservatives, for all their obnoxiousness, arrogance and anger are very scared underneath. One of the reasons they seem like perpetual echo machines who all listen to each other repeat the same lies, distortions and spin over and over again is because they need the emotional reinforcement such political reaffirmations provide.