October 03, 2010

What "I want my country back" means

A columnist asks the question I've asked before. When conservatives say they want to "take the country back" or "go back to the way things were," what do they mean?

The Noble 'I Want My Country Back' Thing

By Robert J. ElisbergWell, listening closely, there is such an America they are referring to. And this is what appears to be what the radical right and Tea Party corporations want when they say "I Want My Country Back."

They want to go back to an earlier time, a friendlier time, a better time in America of our youth, a time when everything was taken care of for us by our parents, and the time of our grandparents. A time of that mythical Shining City on the Hill. A warmer time that we see in old movies. A happier time.

"I Want My Country Back," they say.

Back. To that good, gracious wonderful time in America back where there were--

Picket fences.

Smiling neighbors.

Pride of country.

A handshake was your bond.
And:Womenfolk knew their place.

Blacks knew their place.

Mexicans knew their place was in Mexico.

Muslims were invisible.
And:"I Want My Country Back." I want--

Street cleaning. Garbage collection. Mail service. Public schools. The food supply protected. Water supply protected. Police protection. Firemen. Road repairs. Air traffic safety. The military.

But no taxes.

And a budget surplus.

And no black president.
Comment:  Yes, let's go back to the good ol' days when men were men, women were housewives, and minorities were servants and field workers.

This is a fairly accurate statement of what today's conservative/libertarian/teabaggers want. It's basically the fictional world of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, and Leave It to Beaver.

In those days, women served men and were happy about it. Blacks were maids or porters. Asians were gardeners or launderers. Latinos were farm workers or handymen. Indians were dead and gone. A white man was president, we looked our Commie enemies in the eye, and Elvis wasn't seducing our children into the nightmare of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.

For more on the subject, see:

Why we believe in Columbus
Culture war over who's American
Obama smeared as Luo tribesman
Bigots protest brown-skins on 9/11
Book Burners for Christ


Below:  The "real America" of Limbaugh, Beck, Palin, et al.


dmarks said...

This was actually a very common phrase during the Bush years, only it was a major meme from the Left, not right. The current President spoke at take back America rallies, and the chairmen of the Democrats even used this in a book title.

And it meant the same thing: one side wanting to get back into power. Nothing more or less.

Rob said...

I'd say you're wrong on several counts. One, it wasn't as common then as now. Two, it didn't mean the same thing. Liberals were not trying to return to the distant past--unless you count the Clinton administration as the distant past. Three, there was none of the racial and religious hostility I've documented several dozen times. "Taking back the country" meant taking it back politically, not culturally.

I'd love to see a conservative version of this posting written during the Bush years. What exactly do you think liberals wanted back? A country that didn't fight unnecessary wars, torture people in prison camps, or spy on its own citizens? How do you figure that's comparable to what Muslim-, gay-, and Latino-bashing conservatives want today?

According to you, liberals and conservatives are equally bigoted, which is pure nonsense. If you disagree, go ahead and prove it. Until then, you're only fantasizing about the similarities between the two positions. Claiming they mean the same thing doesn't make it so.

Burt said...

It is arrogant for anyone to claim this land as theirs.

The land has proven time and time again that nobody has ever "owned" it. It is a living, beathing and ever changing entity that only a few human beings really respect it as a life.

People think they can carve up a few acres, kill over it, build and sell resources on it and that makes it "their land".

It takes more than a few hundred years of nurturing and getting to know the land before a people can claim land as theirs!