Hard Times in Central PA

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

As per being a Political Science major, I am often challenged to view the world from a completely different point of view separate from my own preferences in order to fully understand political questions. That said, I am well aware that not everyone is either learned nor interested in anything politically related and would rather stay away from all talk or reference to such topic so as to keep face, but that certainly doesn’t mean that when push comes to shove they don’t have an opinion after overcoming the utter embarrassment they have of not exactly knowing what’s going on in the world, which is ok in normal everyday life, but doesn’t grant you the right to make false accusations as if you do know the in and out intricacies of US affairs.

I’m surprised that Political Science isn’t the topic of normal conversation, being that for most of adult life in the US, the shape and direction of our government has a hand in many aspects of our lives when it comes to the economy, healthcare, war, and other regulation that stem from not just our federal government, but also our state and municipal governments. Even so, most Americans couldn’t care less. This leads to two problems that exacerbates all problems affecting the US government’s public relations and often derails certain legislation that if passed can make life in America easier and more tolerable; misinformation and being uninformed. If you need a good example of this problem, just travel oh, say, two or three hours up into the heart of Pennsylvania, jokingly referred to as “Pennsyltucky” and try listening to conversations at the local bars and restaurants when it turns to the US government.

A conversation in these types of places follow the same patterns as both parties are often just as uninformed or misinformed as the other and leads to confusing, ironic, and pointless conclusions that bear no resemblance to solving the original problem first discussed. And it doesn’t matter what part of government is being discussed whether it be federal, local, executive, judicial, legislative, IRS, CIA, FBI, it doesn’t matter, but I’m going to be realistic and just stick to federal executive because most things end with a conclusion that ultimately leads to that being the problem. Often these conversations start with an event watched on television for example the US Masters being shown on NBC, something completely separate from government as most people are not inclined to actually paying much attention to things they don’t understand government being one of them, and the US Masters is considered the premier tour for golf enthusiasts and fans. What was different than other showings of the US Masters on NBC was that a group of children was shown reciting the pledge of allegiance and the phrase “Under God” was muted out, that is referred to as a ‘catalyst’ sparking a thought as to why NBC would do that to something as patriotic as the Pledge of Allegiance and a rare time in which what misinformed or uninformed people may think that Big Government pokes into their life, therefore it’s less of a neutral event and more of a provocation from an unknown entity.

If there is one thing I can observe from Central PA is the overt support for fundamental Christianity as the reigning religious preference above all others as evident from many other overheard conversations and the numerous signs and billboards dotting the sides of the roads, so this conversation of separating God from country can only go one way, “Why would they want to bleep that out? They don’t want to show pride in their country?” Apart from the obvious point of separation of church and state and the fact the “Under God” was not even part of the original Pledge of Allegiance and an utter lack of being able to separate church from state in their own minds, there’s an immediate failure to recognize that by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance without uttering “Under God” is still patriotic to country, just not to religious undertones established by past administrations to demonstrate a connection with the evangelical arm of the US society against the atheist government of the USSR during the Cold War, which by the way a surprising number of people in this swath of PA and even across the state still believe we are fighting. The ultimate conclusion to this semi-political question, and I quote, “Obama doesn’t want the American flag behind him just as NBC doesn’t want to show patronage to our country, and you know why? We’re adding more and more Muslims to our government posts and it’s all going downhill from here. What is our country coming to?”

You’ve got to be shitting me. NBC decides to take out “Under God” as a sign of being non-conformist to any religion and the answer as to why is because Obama is Muslim and he’s adding more Muslims to our government? I would love to just say that these people are idiots, but I’ve known these people from over the years and have worked with them and they are not idiots and are quite a bit older than me, but to listen to this was like scratching a chalk board. Now mind you this was overheard as a group, and not one person raised an opposing thought other than me, so there was a group consensus that adding Muslims to our government was the reason why NBC cut out “Under God”. I just had to say something, and I did, I voiced that I find no problem in separating church and state as per our Bill of Rights and find no fault in any other non-religious institutions such as NBC taking their own actions in doing the same if either for the sake of government or the sake of their own image, it’s the same as when Comedy Central censored the image of the Prophet Muhammad from South Park episodes for their own reasons.

Central PA is certainly not the only place this conversation could have taken place, this is a common theme among all parts of the country where news is scarce, and fear of the unknown reigns supreme alongside strong religious ties to people who only hear snippets of information from often unreliable sources of information or certain news channels, limited exposure to anything outside their area let alone outside the United States, and look for a way to blame their hard times on anything other than their own bad investments or on Wall Street executives because that too is also too complicated to understand. And these conversations are not just about religion, many times religion isn’t even a part of it such as gun ownership, property taxes, foreign relations, many other conspiracy theories such as the New World Order all follow the same lines that the US government is part of something bigger than it actually is.

If you are reading this I want you to take from this if nothing else an all important lesson; learn your political history. It is the reason why everything happens in public life and determines the present situation, but knowledge and political action changes the future whether it be for civil rights, LGBT rights, woman’s rights, tax codes, foreign relations, domestic affairs, anything that has a lobby in government offices comes from people taking political action whether it be for the public’s benefit or for a private cause, and learning how those lobbies work gives a more complete view of government. Of course Obama doesn’t want the US flag behind him all the time, sometimes the US needs to be a world leader, and image matters in the rest of the world. Obama isn’t just adding more Muslims, though I can’t name one of the top of my head therefore the previous conclusion made by the group is either new or wrong (probably wrong), he’s also adding Jews, Hindus, and Atheists.

So ultimately, if people in Central PA and around the country want to have an informed opinion on the state of our country and on Obama, they shouldn’t skip on the informed part and hopefully later generations learn from our older generation’s mistakes.

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