What’s creepin’?

I’ve been hearing Republicans bellyaching about creeping socialism since I was a kid in the 40s. People afraid of socialism under every bed. ‘Modern American conservatism began in an effort to … roll back creeping socialism,” Sarah Bramwell told a  conservative club. Socialism has been creeping up on us for decades according to the National Review. Senator Taft told us in 1952 “that … the [presidential] campaign … [was about] ‘liberty against the creeping socialism in every domestic field.’”

“Creeping socialism … is  [still] slowly throttling our liberties out of existence.” Insurance, medicare and social security are creeping socialism. Regulation and labor laws are creeping socialism. Loans to automakers, dealing with the banking crisis, taking care of the people, combating poverty and international cooperation –  all creeping, creepy, socialism.

Glenn Beck, says “We’re on the road to socialism.” The Road to Socialism is a Blog and it’s a book from Bible Belt Publishing – you’d expect them to watch their language if they really have the fear of God. “Down the Road to Socialism” is a column and The Sad Road to Socialism is a book.

Senators, like Richard Shelby, claim the federal stake in GM put Washington on “the road to socialism.” “The U.S.G.A.’s … decision in the mid_70’s to base handicaps on 96 percent … of a player’s 10 best scores in the last 20 rounds … was an index of creeping socialism”!

Here’s a bit of the right-wing program that I’ve taken from the National Review:

  • “Leave the U.N.” but “Start testing our nukes again.” In other words diplomacy and negotiation aren’t manly, despite the horror of those manly wars we’ve fought.
  • “Shut down the U.S. Postal Service.” [Set up by Benjamin Franklin, that old bewigged socialist hiding among the Founders.] The Postal Service takes profits away from private entrepreneurs, so never mind the rest of us.
  • “Disenfranchise nonmilitary government employees.” In other words, pick and choose who’ll vote for you.
  • Damn the workers by “Outlaw[ing] public-sector unions” and “Scrap[ping] laws against discrimination.”
  • No more Hispanics – they put it differently but revealingly as “Grant independence to Puerto Rico. Who wants Puerto Rico?”

OK but if creeping socialism is fair play then so is creeping Nazism.

And notice what’s left if we remove all that the radical right wants to take away as creeping socialism – they want to take away Social Security, Medicare, management of the economy, regulation of corporate megaliths, elimination of anti-poverty and anti-discrimination laws. They want to leave each of us vulnerable to whatever the captains of industry want. Who cares if we’re fooled, defrauded, fed pills that don’t work at prices that are outrageous for problems we don’t have – let the buyer beware while the captains of industry make out like – like Nazis. They want a nation of slaves where the only free men and women are the ones who own major corporations or command the military or private para-militaries – let the rest of us do what we’re told.

If caring for the American people, all of us, is creeping socialism, then not caring is creeping Nazism. Never mind the KKK – we’ve got a real Nazi menace. Indeed they want much of the same. Screw the Hispanics, repeal the anti-discrimination laws, impose their choice of religion on the rest of us, solve every problem with nukes, guns and prisons – just how different is the radical right from the KKK except for the uniforms?

What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Sling it. Catch it. Grow up.

—  This commentary was broadcast on WAMC Northeast Report, May 31, 2011.

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