Here’s an account of what I would regard as the scariest thing ever to come out of West Virginia. This happened in 1974, not the seventeenth century.
The events described in this piece by James Haught of the Charleston Gazette, and these events occurred in Kanawha County, which is the state’s most populous county. It’s where the state capital is located, and one would think it would be a little bit more urbane in its instincts. In some ways, it is, but if this could happen in this part of the state, just imagine what the more rural areas could be like?
Just imagine a world where this cold happen:
Rock-throwing mobs forced schools to close. Two schools and the board office were bombed. Two people were shot. Coal miners struck to support the religious protest. Ku Klux Klansmen and right-wing kooks flocked to Charleston. Some upriver residents tried to form a separate county. A preacher and his followers discussed murdering families who wouldn’t join a school boycott. The minister finally went to prison.
Nope. Not Muslims. Not in Pakistan.
Here. In America.
And what caused all that furor?
Modernity. The books ere nothing more than run of the mill textbooks that covered things that every student in America should learn.
The Rev. Charles Quigley prayed for God to kill the board members who endorsed the books. A grade school was hit by a Molotov cocktail. Five shots hit a school bus. A dynamite blast damaged another grade school. A bigger blast damaged the school central office.
Near-riot conditions continued. Robert Dornan of California, a pornography foe, addressed a crowd of 3,000. Protesters started evangelical schools. A fundamentalist magistrate led an attempt to make eastern Kanawha a separate county.
Minister Horan and three of his followers were indicted for the bombings. Ku Klux Klan leaders led a Charleston rally to support them. An imperial wizard from Georgia said the Kanawha textbooks contained “the most vulgar, vile and filthy words in print” — which was odd, since non-fundamentalists couldn’t find any obscenities in them.
In modern times, we’d call these people terrorists, but I guess because they said Jesus a lot, they just couldn’t be real ‘turrists.”
One of the big reasons why I don’t vote Republican is because the Republican Party has decided to play games with these people.
No, they may not want to blow up schools, but they definitely hate public education.
They hate modernity and rationalism.
And they will do anything to force that upon the nation.
They don’t have to use dynamite.
All they have to use is elect the right number of fanatics to office, and they’ll blow up public education for us all.
A common thread among religious right leaders is that they hate big government.
This is a lie.
They love big government.
They don’t want a government that educates children or provides decent medical care.
But they do want a government that controls what you think and what you read.
They do want a government worries about what happens in the bedroom. They do want a government that can control the standards for science education.
If the Republican Party would tell these people to take a hike, I might consider voting for some of them.
Until it does, I’m voting straight Democratic ticket.
Do I think things like this can happen again?
I wouldn’t have wasted my time writing this if I didn’t have some concern that it might happen again.
Right now the Republican Party is a wounded beast.
It is wounded largely because it hitched its wagon to the religious right.
However, the religious right has so strongly worked its way into Republican Party institutions, and it will be very difficult to kick to the curb.
In fact, as soon as the religious right feels that it’s about to get some push back from the party, that will be the moment in which it goes completely off the rails.
You thought it was off the rails before?
You haven’t seen anything yet.