LIMITATION ~ IMAGINATION
There is a traditional divide in this society between the people that make up most of this country. On most topics now 85% of the population tends to go in one direction while about 12% go the opposite way. Just 3 % of the public tends to think for themselves and choose ways that do not agree entirely with any of the larger groups. The Republic was the perfect system to embrace and expand these differences. BIPARTISANSHIP, on the other hand, was the politically accepted weapon used to undercut any real choices that anyone ever had— so the POLICE-STATE could flourish as it does today.
I’m one of that 3% and I’ve been wrestling with how to explain what I know to be true of the society in which so many different kinds of people have grown-up in. This is not nearly as much about my life as it is about so-many of the various disconnects that have been coming to life, from the mid-1950’s until now.
I grew up in Oklahoma City, so I had a particularly unique view of just how screwed up the USA could be. Oklahoma began as “Outlaw Territory” and did not become a state until November 16, 1907—and that only happened because huge OIL deposits were discovered there. Prior to that time, Oklahoma was the dumping ground for every kind of misfit and outlaw in the states. Oklahoma in the 1950’s was actually proud of having shaped itself on the Chicago-POLITCAL-machine of the thirties. The Catholic Church in Oklahoma (just 2% of the state) prided itself on remaining at least 30 years behind any changes in the wider society as well. Between these two backwardly fascinated views there was a totally screwed up society of outlaws, bootleggers, pimps and totally corrupted politicians, cops, judges—so the bulk of the stalwart-citizenry were equally corrupted by the environment in which most of them also grew-up.
Oklahoma was racist in the extreme, not just about the divide between black and white. It was racially biased against every race and every race had its slurs that were popularly used against everyone else, partially with a smile. But down deep these racial attitudes came about because of a major lack of trust.
“1994: “In America now it is always Us against Them and Them against Us. And to display its anger, its righteousness, our side must be in conflict with their side. It’s not enough to be an American, you must despise, attack, diminish, and empty the guts of those millions of other Americans who are not like you. Every grave must be pried open by scholarship, every smashed bone waved in triumph like a relic, every ancient crime posted on the schoolhouse door.”
“The result is a society in apparently permanent, teeming, nerve-fraying conflict: blacks against whites; straights against gays; gays against priests; priests against abortionists; sun people against ice people; citizens against immigrants; Latinos against Anglos; people who work against those who don’t; town against gown; blacks against Jews; the orthodox against the reformers; cops against bad guys; lawyers against cops; Crips against Bloods; Good guys and bad guys. Oppressors and oppressed. White hats and black hats. And vice-versa. Us against them and them against Us. And get outta my fuckin’ face.” ” (1)
From the days of the Dust-Bowl Oakies were an independent bunch that trusted very few of their fellows. During the “hard-times” then the Bankers were hated almost as much as the communist organizers—Oakies would block anyone from their hard-scrabble shacks that had once been farms; while they tried to figure out what to do about the Dust-winds that drove them from their lands. The Dust-wind was actually created by banking practices (on which their loans-depended) that forced them to plow too deeply into the earth which led directly to the loss of their top-soil and eventually to what drove almost all of them off their land.
By the nineteen-fifties Oklahoma-the-State, was already a backward place. Oklahoma City began about the same time as did Dallas, Texas. But all that Oklahoma could claim was the creation of ‘The Parking Meter’ the retention of Prohibition, bootleggers, pimps and prostitution, pornography, and political-corruption at every level—including the obscenity of “Right to Work laws” that kept people so poor they couldn’t even leave the state. During the same time period Dallas and Texas PROSPERED greatly!
If you could see what I see
Through your eyes,
What a totally different world this would be.
Through a freak-accident in my junior year in highschool in which my neck was broken I entered into a legal problem that came due when I lost the lawsuit against a major corporation (over the accident), which brought on their countersuit that would have ended with having to pay those that hit me, for the rest of my natural life. The Draft was in effect so I chose to go into the military because it was the only place where my income could not be touched by events of the past.
I had attended a private Catholic highschool for the last three years of formal-schooling. I discovered later on that it was one of the highest rated schools scholastically in the nation and over 90% of its graduates went on to college. I had scholarships to three colleges, but I couldn’t accept them, because of the law-suit, for which my majority had been declared. Upon graduation in 1957, I went to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, while my friends got ready to go to colleges across the land.
In the Air Force I was assigned to Radar-Operations and excelled at first in everything; until the Air Force began a new racial-policy regarding promotions (one of the earliest forms of the nanny-state) which began promoting people of one color over others, in a series of reverse discrimination cases that punished those who worked at what they did, in favor of those that chose to do nothing. I took that very personally.
In ‘operations’ I was doing the job of an E-8 and the L.T., in charge of me, recommended that I be considered for the Air Force Academy. That ended with a recommendation from Oklahoma Senator Robert S. (Bob) Kerr, the then Chairman of the Armed Services Committee in Washington D.C.. I declined the appointment and shortly afterward ended up slamming a Captain against a wall. Punishment was delayed and instead of a courts-marital my commanding officer in Red Bluff, California chose to send me to Guam. That turned out to have been far better than any college could have ever been for someone like me.
Everyone on “Guam” was a military-screw-up of some sort, so I was right at home. About mid-way through that tour of duty the radar-squadron that had been stationed in the jungle, in a rusting and broken concrete barracks from WWII, got reassigned to SAC quarters on Anderson AFB. We went from bays of 70-men per-room, to rooms of 8 men-each, sharing a bathroom. But it was a massive change; in a place where from fifteen to twenty-five percent of the men assigned to that squadron were certifiably insane. It was there that we began to talk!
The squadron worked a rotation of 3-days, 3-swings, 3-midnights and 3 days off. This totally screwed up biological clocks that most had once had – but it was perfect for talking, almost non-stop about life, death and everything in-between. The official welcoming we got upon arrival on Guam was that “as radar-operations personnel we had a life-expectancy of eleven seconds, if the time ever came when we might be involved in a war”. It was the days of the Cold War and no one stateside gave a damn about anyone sent to Guam, which we quickly had adapted to.
During that time I was called back to the states on Emergency leave but just before I left, I had managed to set something up that ended in PACAF Headquarters in Hawaii – which they saw as a Mutiny on Guam. By the time I came back, the radar-squadron was being dissolved. The squadron was deemed “no longer necessary” to the then Air Force defense of the Pacific. Many were demoted for what they had not done while on duty, and I got a lot of the blame for that military change on Guam. A “P.I.” for personal-influence, was stamped on my records and I got sent to the upper tip of the Northern peninsula of Michigan where race-riots were in full-flower when I arrived…
Highschool had always been a place where I was accepted as a rebel, an athlete, an honor student and as someone who did things very-differently than most. It was a small school, so there was no particular problem with any of that. The military however was entirely different and I found ways to fight them on their own ground. I was able to win against that government-behemoth, time after time, throughout the four years of my enlistment. I managed an honorable discharge, despite numerous brushes with failed courts-marital attempts – and became free again in August of 1961.
By that time life had developed to a point where I could begin to understand how different people could be from each other—and that the differences were not to be feared: They were to be something that needed to be understood personally.
This brings us to the place where this article actually begins: Sorry about the length, but to say what I need to say, some background was required in order to set the scene…
This is continued in “Climbing Out of the Pit”.
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