Wednesday, December 28, 2011

#101: Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right by Lisa McGirr

Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001. 395 pages

Lisa McGirr takes on the central role of Orange County in the development of the "New Right" in the 1950s and 1960s. Want to now where most of the Right Wing (or now Mainstream) of the Republican party came from? I give you the California Republican Assembly talking points in 1964:
1. Economic Freedom: As Reagan said in 1963, if a man did not want to rent his place to Negroes, it was his right not to do so.
2. States Rights: the ol' familiar bull shit.
3.Communism Bad!: Now it is Secular Humanism Bad!
4. Divine Intent Ruled Society: God Made Me Rich and Made You Poor. So Suck It. God Made Me An American and You a Nigerian. You Can Suck That Also. BTW, thanks for the oil. And mind the gunboats, you Communist.
5. Freedom From Filth: Unless of course it is a Mormon Church Approved Dating Site or perhaps Christian Singles. Or the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.  This is the biggest complaint I have about what Saint Carlin called "These Fucking Church People". We can't have any fun, but they can spank it to the Victoria's Secret fashion show when not spanking their kids.
6. Vigorous Law Enforcement: See Wall Street, Occupy. (130)

In the development of the New Right, McGirr points to several causes, the most important one in my opinion being "Mode of development". Sprawl and the materialistic emptiness it entails flavored the development of the movement. McGirr's cogent analysis of the development of Mega Churches in Orange County is spot on. Bob Schuller's "Tower of Power" told his wealthy congregants that "Jesus did not praise poverty" and it was quite right to be rich.

Well, Fuck You Reverend Bob. I give you Matthew 19:23-4: “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

This book is right on if you want to see the current Republican party in action. McGirr writes that "they railed against Federal interference in the west...even while eagerly contending for federal funds." (37) The goals of the John Birch Society (impeachment of Earl Warren, getting the US out of the UN) sound astonishingly familiar to the blithering idiocies of the Bachmans and Santorums of the world. Why? They love Ronald Reagan, but are too stupid to tone down the rhetoric. In other words, Reagan may have believed some of these things, but was smart enough to not look like Goldwater. Parents in the OC in the 1960s "feared losing control over their children due to liberal schooling." (180) Hell, they still do, except they are widespread throughout this damnable state.

Perhaps the most important item that McGirr writes is in one of her end notes. In writing about the conception of the family, she states "calls for strengthening the family meant shoring up parental (and particularly patriarchal) authority within the smaller family unit." (313) She finds this as a change from a more traditional idea of the American family, and I agree. This leads to the development of a pseudo-tradition of family on most of the Right which nicely dovetails with the majority of the Republican parties view of gay rights, the resistance to the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and 1980s and their view of abortion. All in all, a great book with a fantastic bibliography. Highly Recommended.

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