Idiotic totems and cognitive dissonance

First I’ll recommend the following post by Amanda Marcotte, who is on fire this week:

Gingrich was taking your Harley out for a weekend, nothing more

These rubbers are, as you can imagine, largely Republican. They are definitely the sort of people who find the Tea Party compelling; I’m guessing that many motorcycles since I’ve moved have been updated with “Don’t Tread on Me” logos, as well as more Confederate flags, as a talisman to keep the reality that we elected a black President from penetrating their consciousness.

Amanda’s focus on reactionary Harley riders called to mind something I saw during the summer, when I was working at the firehouse near Wrigley Field.  One of my colleagues parked his shiny Harley against the firehouse, and on his vehicle at least two of those black POW/MIA decals were prominently displayed.  If I recall correctly, he was wearing some article of clothing that also bore the logo.  This is a topic I like to revisit periodically, because it is a stark reminder of the amount of vile bullshit that gets elevated to sacred, totemic status in our society.

In Chicago, and I’m guessing in the entire U.S., you are unlikely to pass two or three government buildings (of any level of government)– be they firehouses, post office branches, libraries, or others– without finding at least one flying the POW/MIA flag.  Given the satanically odious motives behind the original POW/MIA campaign, and the epic dishonesty that the campaign and its symbols represent, there are few items more symbolic of our terminal national political illness.

Vietnam & Other American Fantasies

review by Christian Parenti

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