Saturday, April 21, 2012

106. McCarthyism and the Deception of Peace

“I have a list!”
A man from the shadows of government said,
“Of all known Commies out there!”
Who was on the list?
People wondered.
People speculated.
They turned their neighbors in.
They turned friends in.
They turned coworkers in.
Paranoia was the word
That McCarthy brought.
Out of the crucible of American politics
Came witch hunts and conspiracies
To overthrow the government.
As the fifties rolled on and the blistering cold kept persisting.
War in Korea failed and the split remained.
According to the Beaver and the Cleavers
The country was full of upright citizens.
Full of hat-wearing dads and stay-at-home moms
Who made apple pie.
Of little boys who played baseball
Eating that pie at the table after saying grace.
Conformity and structure
Made life seem pleasant
In the suburban household.
Men who went to an idyllic office job
Doing who knows what.
Kids only complained about school with their bully problems.
“See Billy?” said the man on the film reel,
“Isn’t it great”
“To be in such an individualistic society?”
“Not like those Commies.”
“Right Dad?”
But that wasn’t the real fifties
Was it?
There was fear.
Nuclear tests caused radioactive havoc in lands far away.
“We must perfect the killing machine”, they said.
“Or else they will get us.”
Keep working.
Keep sleeping.
“Or else they will get us”
Presidents passed.
Father knows best
Duck and cover.
Build your bomb shelters.
Stock them with freeze-dried foods.
Hope for the best because they are out there and they will get us.

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