Saturday, July 7, 2012

Escaping the "Reich-Wing"

I grew up as a member of the "Reich wing", so to speak. We were forbidden to go to public schools or even have a library card since the popular conspiracy theory was, at that time, that Hillary Clinton and the UN were trying to use public education to indoctrinate children and take them away from their parents to reeducation camps. We were told that "liberals" hated kids and rejoiced in every abortion that was performed.

I remember shooting targets and being told "pretend it is Clinton" or "pretend it is an abortion doctor" as I squeezed off .22 rounds at tin cans or pine cones. I still recall all the times that I was informed by the parish priest that sex was horrible, evil and I would burn in hell forever for my "impure" thoughts I confessed to having about that pretty blonde girl I saw every Sunday in church. My sisters were told that they didn't need to learn any kind of real math or science because "as a homemaker or a nun, you won't need to learn any of that stuff."

I was groomed for politics and attended a large number of GOP meetings, conventions, workshops and rallies up until the age of about 15. I met people like George Allen, Pat Buchanan, Bob Marshall, Alan Keyes, Jim Gilmore, Ralph Reed, Oliver North and the usual religious right nutjobs who loved to pat me on the head and say how I would be one of them some day. Honestly, I didn't give much of a shit about their politics and the messages being rammed down our throats. I went because I didn't have much of a choice when it came to deciding between sitting at home bored out of my mind or getting out of the house. Yet, I remembered all the hours of indoctrination where we were told that "liberals" were all tools of Satan, the people on welfare were all lazy drug addicts, birth control (including condoms) was a mortal sin, and only by basically reverting to a theocracy could America be saved.

The GOP politicians, the smarter Teabaggers like to pretend that this isn't so but I was there. This has been going on for more than 2 decades and they're only getting more organized and more desperate to keep every child like I once was from ever seeing the light.

I got out around 16 and while it took a few more years to completely rid myself of that old ideology, but between the smearing of John McCain in 2000 by the Bush campaign and the ridiculously jingoistic patriotism of the post 9/11 fallout, that was enough to keep me from ever voting GOP again.

I've learned that the world's problems and moral choices aren't in solid black and white but every situation is unique and a various shade of gray. I've learned that the road out isn't easy and that you will lose people who said that they cared about you but in the end, it has been worth every mile of hell that I've had to walk through to get here.


  1. That is really interesting. And scary. My husband grew up in a Baptist church and was told things like dancing is evil. Congrats on getting out

  2. Thank you for your insight. I was raised quite differently. We were I was surrounded by poor...thinking I was the rich kid on the block because we owned a car. My mother raised us and taught us not to be so quick to judge and stressed learning.. I was fortunate to receive an excellenteducation in "believe it or not" West Virginia..way ahead of their time. My mother emptied out the pantry and filled it with books and the Encyclopedia Britannica that took her a year to pay off. My mother was raised Southern Baptist. We stopped going to church when she divorced my father..the hypocrisy and shame too hard for her to bear. I try not to judge, attempt to do no harm, and to grow and learn. I cannot imagine how difficult it must been for a young adult adjusting to the revelation their childhood was based on hate. I, too, congratulate you on getting out.

  3. Interesting post! Both of my parents were raised Southern Baptists but back then they just called it Baptist since they were already in the South (the 60's). My mother said her father loved going to church and they went about three times a week. A lot of it could have been lack of entertainment venue's in the backwaters of Florida back then. Either way she doesn't remember politics in the pulpit. But she did stop going as soon as she was out her parents house because of what she saw as a personal hypocrisy in her church. Neither of my parent's ever took me or my brother to church growing up at all. The only time I went as a kid was with my granparents and my mom told me it was because I mostly loved putting on my frilly dresses.

    My sister in law on the other hand was raised in an extremely ridgid Primitive Baptist church where her father was the preacher. She was very much raised in a political religious background. She missed out on everything my brother and I took for granted growing up. Forming our own thoughts, watching network comedies on TV, going to movies, having friends with diverse beliefs, non chaperoned dates, public school, etc.She raised her daughter different once she moved away from Texas and closer to our family, and her free thinking teen actually caused her to cast her first ballot for Democratic President in this past election. Our family has been a wonderful influence on her. :)

  4. Hey, there's a book here. I have the opposite situation - I grew up in Lexington, Mass., Noam Chomsky was a neighbor, Howard Zinn's son and I went to school together. Our parents were all arrested for protesting the Viet Nam War. So I'm still a commie liberal. And with all the blather about the economy, people forget that a democrat, Bill Clinton, was the last person to balance the budget. The next guy, you know who, messed it up with tax cuts for the rich. And meanwhile, when LBJ was handing out money left and right for "The Great Society," it was a time of prosperous growth, with the exception of that pesky Viet Nam war. LBJ ignored the warnings of his cabinet to get out.