Thursday, October 17, 2013

Conservatives scared her crazy

As reported by NPR:
In one of the strangest moments of a strange few weeks on Capitol Hill, a House stenographer broke into a rant about God, the Constitution and Freemasonry as representatives cast their votes Wednesday on a deal to reopen the government.
From the 2012 Olympic ceremonies in London; aroused somebody's paranoia in a big way.
"He will not be mocked," the stenographer, later identified as Dianne Reidy, yelled into the microphone at the chamber's rostrum. "The greatest deception here is that this is not one nation under God. It never was. It would not have been. The Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons. They go against God."
She was quickly escorted away from the lectern by floor staff, but continued: "You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God. Praise be to Jesus."
Capitol Police said Reidy had been "transported to a local area hospital for evaluation."
Ed Kilgore, the current magnificent Political Animal at the Washington Monthly, commented:
Perhaps the poor woman is simply suffering from mental illness. But anyone familiar with European history is aware of a rich tradition of right-wing paranoia about Freemasonry as the source of all modern evils, or as a major branch of the international Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy to destroy religion. This was, in fact, the absolute centerpiece of the rationale for the Franco-led insurrection against the Spanish Republic in 1936.
I left a comment at his place that I'd like in turn to deposit here, in case I want to look at it again, and you're invited too, of course.
I find myself wanting it noted that the Constitution really was written by Freemasons who took a dim view of religious enthusiasm; that's not paranoia. Freemasons in the 18th century were not the Chamber of Commerce in aprons and silly handshakes. Masonic lodges in Europe and North America were a place where working men and aristocrats met on a footing of equality, and they played a huge role in creating the political Enlightenment--of working out a way for public opinion to influence government, eventually democracy, and revolution. Modern conservatism began as a reaction on the part of the established power elite, in answer to the question of how they could hang on to their power in a world that acknowledged the right to vote. How could they get the majority to accept their monopoly of power? Presenting themselves as defenders of Christianity against the "atheistic" Masons and Jews was one early solution; frighten the poor and uneducated with tales of godless libertines who would control their lives.
This is still a huge part of how conservatism works; it's "what's the matter with Kansas". Though the power elite are now themselves endangered by the lunatics they have created (wouldn't hurt to think of that as a large opportunity for Enlightenment believers to recapture some lost ideological ground, as PBO perhaps does). As we "liberals" do our own ideological work, it's a good idea to remember that our Founding Fathers weren't nonpartisans but decided progressives.
I believe Corey Robin's book

The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin

offers a properly researched version of a story much like that, if you're interested in following up (I haven't read it yet myself! but it's on the Kindle and I will).
God's Plan vs. the Masons. Via.

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