I was famished on my long drive to New York City and pulled off I-95 in the middle of Nowhere, South Carolina. A billboard had directed me to a restaurant on desolate Frontage Road, which had the charm of an abandon rock quarry. In the distance, I saw a bright yellow sign that read "Maurice's BBQ." I bounded into the aromatic smoke pit looking forward to good southern ribs, but what I found instead was good ole fashioned red meat conservatism. In this contentious day and age, it seems even pulled pork is politicized.
A small glass encased room at the store's entrance served as a propaganda center, with books, pamphlets and cartoons extolling the virtues of the old Confederacy and modern Republican politics. One book depicted a photograph of the American flag under the caption, "The Real Slave Flag." Various rebel flags also filled the space, as well as photographs of southern Civil War "heroes."
Ironically, there was a young African American teenager working at the cash register. Either she was blissfully ignorant of her surroundings, or jobs were scarce in this neck of the woods. I just can't imagine a black person in New York or Miami working in such a place. (The exception is Washington, where you can always find a self-loathing minority of all stripes to shill on The Hill)
Once I placed my order, I listened to the locals yak about the great George W. Bush, the reasons why we should invade Iran and how certain Republican politicians betrayed them on immigration legislation. I had often wondered who the remaining 28-percent of the idiots were that supported the worst president in history and I finally found them. A couple of people sported well-worn Bush/Cheney campaign T-shirts. Meanwhile, several power trucks in the parking lot had bumper stickers that cheered the GOP, lauded Intelligent Design or depicted bloody fetuses.
Other trucks had anti-Hillary Clinton bumper stickers. A typical one showed the Republican elephant under the word "The Good", the Democratic donkey under "The Bad" and Hillary's face under the caption "The Ugly."
It is always jarring to see the level of ire and fire that social conservatives reserve for Hillary. It is one thing to dislike her personal style or politics. But the visceral disgust and animal animus literally emanating from the pores of these poor southerners is perplexing. And, quite frankly, judging by the missing teeth of a few of the patrons, they really could have used her health care plan.
Prominently featured at Maurice's was "The Times Examiner," a newspaper that billed itself as the "independent conservative voice of the Palmetto State." It was good to know that they were keeping the torch, because if there is one thing that South Carolina lacks it is conservative voices.
The top story in the newspaper opened with the screaming headline: U.S SENATE TO OPEN SESSION WITH A HINDU PRAYER. Oh my, what a huge threat. If we are not careful, masses of South Carolinians will renounce Christianity and leave their pastors to storm the pastures in a heroic effort save the cows.
As I perused page two, I was disappointed to learn that I had just missed Creation Science "Super Thursday." For an admission fee of $5, I could have been treated to a video tour of the "Answers in Genesis Creation Museum" in Kentucky. Well, at least when I finally make the pilgrimage, I won't know how the story ends.
In the international affairs section, Dr. Al Snyder, a former professor at Liberty University, forcefully argued against peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It seems that unless the Middle East ruptures, the fundamentalists don't get their Rapture, so they are doing everything in their power to ensure killing and chaos. The great irony is that they are fomenting deadly dissention, while calling themselves friends of Israel.
The most illuminating article was a guest column written by Dr. Winston L. McCuen entitled, "When Slavery is Good." Until I read this, I was unaware that owning another human being could be perceived as a positive experience from both ends of the whip. I must note, however, that I have yet to read a screed from a pro-slavery author who doesn't imagine himself as the Master.
Surprisingly, The Times Examiner did not appear to have any Jeremiads against gay people. After all these years attacking homosexuals, the immigration debate reminded conservatives that rekindling racism and xenophobia is good fun too! But, it also is a sad reminder that discrimination against gay and lesbian people will persist long after all of the equal rights laws are finally passed.