Oklahoma Family Values: Religious Fanatics, Meth Addicts, Greedy Corporations
You know he had to leave Texas but he won't say why
he owns a quarter section up by Lake Eufaula
caught a great big ol’ bluecat on a driftin’ jugline
sells his hardwood timber to the chippin’ mill
cooks that crystal meth cuz his shine don't sell
he cooks that crystal meth cuz his shine don't sell
you know he likes that money, he don't mind the smell--“Choctaw Bingo,” songwriter James McMurtry
The way things look now Oklahoma’s centennial year will be marred by hateful, narrow-minded, right-wing initiatives courtesy of its Republican dominated legislature.
Get ready for a freak show, folks. The state’s business bigwigs and the religious fanatics, cheered on by the ultra-conservative propagandists at The Daily Oklahoman, are on the brink of getting their quasi-fascist desires fulfilled: Complete control of state government
By the time State Rep. Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City) and company get done with this upcoming session, Oklahoma will probably be viewed as the first true theocratic state in the union, Hispanic people will no longer be welcomed here, women will have to leave the state to get even basic care related to reproductive issues, and the state’s energy companies will be completely tax exempt.
Republicans now control the Oklahoma House, and have an equal number of state senators as the Democrats. Throw into this mix some of our state’s ultra conservative Democratic legislators, and what you get is right-wing extremism. When the country went left in recent elections, Oklahoma went right. This trend doesn’t appear to have lost its momentum.
Here is what you can expect from the GOP legislature this upcoming session:
(1) Reducing Reproductive Rights. Kern and others will lead a charge to take away as many reproductive rights as possible from women. Kern has already introduced a bill to limit the number of doctors who could perform abortions in the state. Her bill will ensure rural women, in particular, are denied convenient access to doctors who perform the procedure in the state. Watch as well for legislation that would completely outlaw abortion in the state. Watch as well for proposed legislation that would restrict access to Plan B, or the morning after pill.
(2) Attacks On The Hispanic Community.State Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson (R-Oklahoma City) has proposed a bill that would make English the state’s official language. This would primarily hurt Oklahoma’s growing Hispanic population. Some state services, like driver’s license tests, are now offered in Spanish, for example. The Department of Human Services often gets request for language assistance in Spanish. Will Spanish-speaking people still have access? In addition, other GOP legislators will undoubtedly try to pass legislation cracking down on undocumented workers, even though it was the failure of the GOP on the national level that created the problem. In addition, a relatively small number of children of undocumented workers are allowed to pay in-state tuition for college if they meet certain strict criteria. Watch for the GOP—in an act of petty hate and spite—to eliminate this pro-education state program.
(3) Religious Intrusion In Government.Watch for more bills promoting so-called intelligent design theory in schools. Intelligent design theory, or neocreationism, advances the idea that the world is so complicated, a “designer” or, wink, wink, the right-wingers’ Christian God, designed the universe. The aim is to eliminate the teaching of evolution, which is the foundation of medical science. The aim of the medieval-like fanatics is to stop scientific inquiry and eliminate advances in medicine. The religious fanatics in the legislature will also probably try to pass prayer-in-school legislation.
(4) Tax Cuts For Rich People.The GOP here will follow its recent successful strategy of cutting taxes for rich people on a huge scale as it gives token cuts to the middle class and poor. State revenues are up, and the rich people here probably believe they alone deserve the extra money. Watch for TABOR (Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights) initiatives in the legislature and corporate tax cuts, especially for energy companies.
The upcoming GOP legislative onslaught will all be done under the guise of populist rhetoric in the George W. Bush era of The Lie and Irrationality and Hatred of the Other. A lot of people here are still stupid enough to fall for the scam. Modernity, rational, intellectual thought, and a recognition of advances in science have been replaced here with religious fanaticism and greed.
Unfortunately, just as Oklahoma City appears on the brink of making it into big-city status with a prospering Bricktown and the NBA’s Hornets, among other things, the Christian fundamentalists have been put in charge of things. Behind the curtain, the state’s rich people pull their strings.
Progressives need to fight the fanatics at every turn by speaking the truth. They need to pressure the state’s media to offer varying opinions about the state’s central issues. If this doesn’t work, and chances are it won’t, they should create their own media to offer the balance the state will need to thrive in the twenty-first century. They need to pull Democrats away from the so-called center because in Oklahoma centrists are often just right-wing Bushbots in disguise.
I cannot scream it loud enough, local Dems: Bail, bail on Bush and the war and make the local GOP pay for supporting a lying, corrupt presidential administration. Do not take what you might sincerely believe is a centrist position. Every Kern move, for example, should be met with massive resistance and dissent not only because her particular legislation is anti-woman, anti-freedom but also because Kern represents all that is terribly wrong with the GOP these days. The GOP may be on the rise in Oklahoma, but its ideology is dead throughout the country and world. If the Kerns are going to take our state down into their freakish, ugly world of religious fundamentalism while the country gets mired further in Bush’s Iraq debacle, then at least we should fight it.
What progressive politician will stand up this session and speak the truth? If no one is brave enough to do so, the state’s new bumper sticker will be this: “Oklahoma: Land of Religious Fanatics, Meth Addicts, Greedy Corporations.”