MANN TALK: A Liberal Contradiction

by Perry Mann
Editor's Note: This is a column from 2004, and Perry is still a liberal

 Blake Hurst, a Missouri farmer and faithful Republican, has described the difference between Red Americans or Bush Republicans and Blue Americans or typical liberals by profiling what Reds are and what they are not.  But heaven forbid, I find that I have more in common with Blake Hurst’s Red Americans than I do with his conception of Blue Americans. Yet, I am liberal from insole to earlobe.


 Hurst writing in The American Enterprise puts it this way: ”Most Red Americans [Middle America conservatives] can’t deconstruct post-modern literature, give proper orders to a nanny, pick out a cabernet with aftertones of licorice, or quote prices from the Abercrombie and Fitch catalog.


 But we can raise great children, wire our own houses, make beautiful and delicious creations with our own two hands, talk casually and comfortably about God, repair a small engine, recognize a good maple sugar tree, tell you the histories of our towns and the hopes of our neighbors, shoot a gun and run a chainsaw without fear, calculate the bearing load of a roof, grow our own asparagus….”


I live in a Red state, that is, a state that unfortunately voted for Bush in 2000, but I am not into deconstruction of poetry or deconstruction of anything else, nor know a nanny, nor know licorice except as a sugary black twirled tube, nor know Abercrombie and Fitch except as the company that rips off mutants with T-shirts at  $24.95 a shirt.


But I have raised great children. They are both liberals and that’s great. . My son is a teacher of creative writing at a university that plays with the big boys and wins most of its footballs games; and he has won a number of national poetry contests with poems that would puzzle most Republicans.  My daughter is a five-star chef who decided to be a lawyer and will probably be the first female governor of this state. She is married to an Afro-American who can take an automobile apart and piece it back in better shape than it was.


I learned about electrons and protons, and amperes, volts and ohms, at Scott Field, IL, during WWII. I wired things in Algeria, Tunisia, Italy, and Corsica; all 220 volt stuff. So when I came home I wired two houses that I renovated and a house that I built. I can still walk through a house and visualize its nervous system.


I designed and built a restaurant with my hands and back from foundation to roof, laid the blocks up and nailed the floors down, and generally finished the interior. And once in the business, I cooked and gardened and could--- I exaggerate not---win blue ribbons for my biscuits, light bread, pies and cakes and my garden-grown cucumber pickles, canned half-runners and corn relish, and whatever, at any fall fair in the land.


I can talk casually and comfortably about God but only in the presence of agnostics and atheists; for what I have to say on that subject would so inflame the godly that my person would be in jeopardy. But I admire Jesus. Any man that can preach that one should turn the other cheek, do good for evil, swear no oaths, give all to the poor, pray only in a closet and  then live his precepts and die for them deserves one’s profoundest respect. Even if one doesn’t believe he survived crucifixion, ascended to Heaven and sits at the right hand of God.


I have taken a malfunctioning small engine, that is, a lawn mower, down to its separate parts and returned it to it original condition. I was not fully pleased with its performance thereafter. But that it ran and cut grass was victory enough and proved that a liberal is not helpless and dependent upon people like Dick Cheney, or some other Red Republican, to repair his mower.

 

I not only can recognize a sugar maple I am heir to a sugar orchard, the trees of which my grandfather tapped every February and boiled the sap to maple syrup. When my children were young I showed them how granddad made maple syrup the old-fashioned way using elderberry spiles. One February day, 1973, I carried and boiled 120 gallons of sap into three gallons of syrup.


I know my town and nearly everybody in it. I have lived my life here, my parents were born and reared here, my grandfathers and grandmothers and their parents were born and buried here. I am greeted cordially in my daily peregrinations by the mayor, the postmaster, bank presidents, lawyers, farmers, and some felons I sent to prison when I was prosecuting attorney.


I received my first firearm, a rifle, when I was 10, a shotgun when I was 12 and a pistol long before I could shave. I hunted with the diligence and passion of a beagle after a rabbit and I learned to shoot straight and could hit  a can tossed aloof. I learned to down trees with a crosscut saw long before there was a chainsaw.  The transition from crosscutting to chainsawing was easy.


I designed and built a house with a roof that has withstood every snowstorm for more than 50 years and I have grown my own asparagus for at least the last thirty years. In fact, I plan to plant a dozen more asparagus plants as soon as the rains stop.


I have read Marx’s  “Capital;” Darwin’s  The Origin of Species and the Descent of Man;” Gibbons, “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire;” and have read a library of other such books that are a foreign language to the Far Right. And from my experiences that are common with Red Republicans and from my readings that are alien to them, I have concluded, contrary to their conclusions, that George W. Bush is a disaster as a president and that four more years of him will be a catastrophe for this country. Also, I am a living contradiction to Blake Hurst’s conception of a liberal Democrat and I thank God that I am. Vote Democrat for victory.

 


* * * Perry Mann is a former teacher, a lawyer, a former prosecuting attorney of Summers County and a columnist for Huntington News Network. He lives in Hinton, WV. He turned 90 earlier this month; he was born in Charleston, WV in 1921.

 

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