Here in America

Here in America
pistols are brandished by upbeat protestors
swaggering to the downbeat
hustle of what are called
“town hall meetings”

Their pieces swivel
on pink stubby fingers like
a blur of chrome hubcaps
at a Nascar dragstrip

Here, at these
“town hall meetings”
where the Grand Ole Opry
meets the Beltway
grim men with sandpaper smiles and sporting
oversized suits and
faded peaked caps
wield signs that read:
Death to Obama

Here, we lurch
in browbeaten resignation
to the chimneys of unreason
where lies are fired up and sent spinning
like fine particles of soot
carried by unkind winds
into the nostrils of our nation
where they lodge, grimy, as common sense:
“I guess the black helicopters really do exist”
“The United Nations are planning to invade the United States”
“A eugenics program is in the works”
“Obama is preparing concentration camps for white people right now”
“The health care death squads are only a beginning”

The pot-bellied pimps of primetime pontification
with smiles like broken glass
pump their plump fists
blow their fuses
and we look at their lewd gesticulations
and oily chins
and wonder
at how such outrage
can be stage-managed
in the baggy trousers of mr. limbaugh and the soiled linen of mr. beck
until we realize
that’s where the microphones of democracy are
nourished most these days
between the hairy, porridge cheeks of hate

August 2009

Peter McLaren is Professor of Education, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles.  Among his most recent books are Pedagogy and Praxis in the Age of Empire: Towards a New Humanism and Capitalists and Conquerors: A Critical Pedagogy against Empire.