By Mark Adams
I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with wingnuts, but I was reminded of one in particular while reading Daniel De Groot’s rendition of the counter-conference Malkin and company were holding to bolster their lagging self-confidence in the shadow of Netroots Nation in Austin. I was physically accosted and called a commie for supporting Reagan.
Anyone really want to make the case that conservativism is anything more than a set of shallow authoritarian personality cults to rationalize socially destructive behaviour?
All they have is Reagan. And only their posthumous fictional version of him to boot. The one in office pissed them off by making nuclear arms reduction agreements with the Soviets.
I remember the Reykjavik conference, the one Reagan ended up walking out on, leaving most of us who were against wasting more money on more missiles and more nukes slapping our skulls and wondering how a geriatric moron could ever become president. (Some things never change.)
They had a special kind of lapel bling going around then that had both the Soviet and American flags crossed, and I got a hold of some as well as some stickers with both flags together. I was in law school at the time, and involved in running the Cleveland National Model United Nations Conference.
See boys and girls, way back when before the scary Muslamonazis threatened our very existence with dime-store box cutters, there was this guy named Gorbechev who had at his disposal thousands of nuke-u-ler missiles aimed at every square mile of this land-o-plenty on hair trigger release. And what did the great Saint Ronny Ray-gun do about this monstrous threat? He sat down and held face-to-face talks with him so we wouldn’t soot our missiles at them if they didn’t shoot theirs at us — and maybe they thought they might get rid of some of them since they promised not to use them anyway.
President Ronald Reagan and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev entered into an unprecedented dialogue regarding their desire to eliminate their countries’ nuclear weapons. “It would be fine with me if we eliminated all nuclear weapons,” Reagan said. Gorbachev replied, “We can do that.”
That was the theory, the “aspirational goal horizon” if you will. Of course Saint Ronny thought the best way to get an agreement for fewer missiles was to build more. The usual counter-intuitive wingnut nonsense. But the idea that the two leaders would talk face-to-face, that Reagan would meet with the head of what he labeled the “Evil Empire” was music to the ears of us lefties. Together they worked to keep the peace, just as the logo symbolized with each flag’s “pole” merged into the other, neither on top. Neither dominating the other.
So I was wearing one of these pins with both superpowers’ flags, using it as a tie-tac actually, and handing out the stickers to anyone in our lobby who might be interested in the Model UN conference. Then this huge guy came by to rain on my parade, calling me pinko scum and assorted other nasty things having to do with my heritage and politics because he saw the USSR flag.
I asked him if he knew what the logo symbolized, tried to explain what it was about, but he literally stuck his chest in my face, hollering and refusing to let me get a word in edgewise about his hero approving the pin, that it came from out own State Department. He didn’t care. He just “saw red,” and chest-thumped me a couple of times, trying to get me to throw the first punch — and I was tempted despite his six inch reach advantage.
I walked away to the taunts of liberals all being cowards and his buddies led him out of the lobby. This bully was a college grad. I know that since you have to be “educated” before accepted to law schoolm and he was indeed a fellow student. When it came flag pins and talking with our rivals he had no desire to be further educated. His mind long since closed.
No, you’ll never hear from me how there’s more to conservatism than belonging to a tribal culture who spit on the very idea that inspired this nation’s beginning, E. Pluribus Unum — or as Ara likes to say, we’re all in this together.