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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Field Notes from Bush Country:�The Closing of the Bushite Mind

Published on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 by 
by Andrew Bard Schmookler
For many years now, I have been conducting talk-radio conversations in Virginia?s Shenandoah Valley. This began shortly after I moved there in 1992, and now that I?ve moved away and it continues with my making regular guest appearances by phone.
Politically, the Shenandoah Valley is a conservative part of a conservative state. When Oliver North lost his bid for a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1994, he carried the Valley by a half dozen points. The area is also religiously fundamentalist, on the fringe of the Bible Belt. The population is largely rural and small town.
As an intellectual, cosmopolitan, liberal Yankee, I had a rather different perspective on the world from that of most of the people in my listening audience. Nonetheless, during the course of the 1990s, I felt I made some progress in opening up a space where we could discuss the issues that divided us in a spirit of mutual respect and genuine inquiry.
But now, with the rise of the Bushite power, that progress has been reversed ?and then some. The program I did there just last week showed quite dramatically just how effective the Bushite power has been in closing the minds of their supporters to any ideas or information that might loosen the hold of Bushite dogma.
I was appalled.


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