The Town Hall meetings that our senators and representatives often hold during the August recess have produced a bumper crop of crazies this summer. Fertilized by the manure spread around so freely by Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Bill O'Reilly, the conservative crazies have blossomed into the equivalent of political crabgrass, threatening to crowd out what little is left of civility and reasoned debate in our culture.
Most of our East Coast pundits don't get out here to the hinterlands enough to recognize the more common varieties of crazies we grow out here, so I humbly offer my personal field guide:
The Race Haters - The angriest of the mob, these are the folks who, in a previous era, would have showed up for a lynching with a picnic lunch. They are the descandants of the folks belonged to the KKK in the Twenties, which claimed 20% of the white male vote back then. Now that a black president has succeeded in installing a new Hispanic Supreme Court justice, they are the first in line at the gun stores expecting Obama will take their guns away (I wish).
The Fundies - These folks are the authoritarian fundamentalists, desperate to find easy answers to tough questions. Whether it's the Constitution or the Bible (or both), they cling to the belief that following the revealed word will provide them a black and white path through a gray and frightening world. They are relatively easy to identify because they reek of self-righteousness.
Militiamen Redux - The Southern Poverty Law Center sees a rise in militias. As someone who lives in Michigan where camouflaged crazies in the woods are not a new phenomenon, all I can say is that, like leftover salmon, they will smell even worse the second time around.
The Throwbacks - Trapped in a hazy Happy Days time warp of America in the Fifties, when men were (white) men and women were kept subservient by being denied access to any of the good jobs, these guys want us to return to an era that never really existed.
The Losers - These are the folks who look at the educated and successful members of our society and seethe with resentment. What isn't that me? Unwilling or unable to read anything other than the latest Ann Coulter screed, they spend much of their time writing emails IN ALL CAPITALS (the electronic equivalent of crayon).
The Dummies - Rivaling the losers as the largest category of crazies in the crowd, the dummies are continuing proof that the American educational system ran itself off a cliff years ago. If you doubt their ignorance, consider that Investors Daily yesterday ran an editorial saying that Stephen Hawking would be dead if the socialized medicine in England had been in charge of his care. Dr. Hawking does, of course, live in England, whose National Health Service has done an excellent job of keeping him alive for decades after he was stricken. As Keith Olbermann said last night, apparently the conservative editorial writer didn't realize Hawking didn't live in England because his voice synthesizer doesn't have a British accent. (Investors Daily as since pulled the Hawking reference.) If you need further proof, remember that many of the folks railing against allowing government a role in health care are also on Medicare.
True conservatives - If you look hard enough, you might find one or two thoughtful, civil and educated conservatives at the Town Hall meetings. But, then again, maybe not. Chances are, they stayed home knowing the crazies would outshout them.
Here's a video that shows what conservatives look like listening to Rush and Glen