My fellow cognoscenti, a specter is haunting the East Coast — the specter of the ordinary American. Middle-class, Christian, sometimes mid-western, invariably poorly dressed, he has the nerve to have his own opinions about things, without our permission, without even consulting us. As such, he poses a grave danger to our democracy, nay, to our very pluralistic society.
You thought you were safe at Yale. But you were wrong. At High Street I spotted a flyer welcoming me to services at the Episcopal Church. Episcopalians are similar to Catholics — every bit as dangerous, but without all of the darling ethnic Italians. That 8.5 x 11-inch Anglo-Saxon sheet of paper was shoving its religion down our throats, silencing dissent, depriving us all of liberty of conscience. We’ll have cameras in our bedrooms soon.
They have refused to stay in the Midwest where we put them. The Ordinary Americans are within the gates.
Sure, I’ve never met an evangelical, I don’t really know any Ordinary Americans — so what? It’s safe to assume that they’re all deeply prejudiced. I’ve made no effort to get to know any of them, it’s true — but that’s because I’m sure they’d judge me. I just can’t stand the thought of them, hateful as they no doubt are!
I saw one just the other day. Let me tell you the story. I was sitting in the dining hall. I could tell he was from the middle of the country, maybe Christian, from his too, too chipper smile. He greeted me. In order to preserve my religious liberty and free thought, I didn’t reply. I avoided eye contact. But throughout the meal I knew his eyes were running up and down my neck, judging me.
He wore Polo, not Brooks Brothers like my friends. Doesn’t he feel his inferiority? Doesn’t he know how the upper-middle class people look down on the mere middle-middle class? Doesn’t he realize that where we’re from the people from the good parts of town look down on the church-going parts of town? He probably voted for George Bush. Taking away my religious liberty was more important for him than food stamps.
I knew that he was twirling his crucifix between his fingers, thinking of the perfect moment to drive it through my unchaste heart. I knew he was watching me read The New York Times, that he could tell how open-minded I was, and that this made him furious.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I stood up, turned to him, shouted “Bigot!” and dashed out, proud of speaking truth to power.
They gather for weekly rallies called “Bible Studies.” We don’t know what goes on at these. I dare not try to infiltrate them. But one thing is certain — they’re full of hate.
The evangelicals are gaining power, dominating traditional paths to power like Yale University, ruling the editorial boards of our most influential papers. They have such a strangle-hold on our national discourse that nobody even gets away with making fun of them on late-night television. They’re stifling free speech, indeed.
They need to be controlled. After Major Hasan shot up Fort Hood, our chauvinistic troops were raring to beat up their all of their non-Christian comrades — until we heroically intervened, by preemptively condemning their bigotry, even before we had any evidence thereof. Most Ordinary Americans would go around committing hate crimes regularly if we didn’t remind them not to. That’s why they voted for Scott Brown. They hope Scott Brown will beat up Barack Obama because they all think he is a Muslim. They’re paranoid like that.
We’ve tried to get them to be more open-minded. We use our movies, our blogs and our universities to ridicule their pastimes, their values, their guns and religion and their accents. We strip their lifestyle and sensibilities of dignity — for their own good. But when we offer them our benevolent leadership, to liberate them from their ridiculous superstition and diction, they don’t seem interested. I don’t get it.
We try to show them the errors of their ways by calling them misogynists when they vote against abortion rights. But, strangely, this doesn’t seem to persuade them — even the women. I don’t understand!
We call them racist when they dare tea party against progressive government expansion. But that doesn’t seem to persuade them either — even though, unlike us, they actually have black neighbors. I don’t get it!
How dare they not vote the way we do? How dare they resist assimilation to our culture, our way of thinking? Who do they think they are? What right do they have to their own values? I thought we lived in a democracy, not an oligarchic theocracy!
Why can’t they just learn to be as loving and tolerant and pluralistic and open-minded and free thinking and loving and non-judgmental as we are?
I just don’t get it.
Matthew Shaffer is a senior in Davenport College.