Monday, March 2, 2009

Finding the words


Given that I live in community that is quite wealthy and retired, the death of Paul Harvey was a big thing. We even had requests for prayers for him and his family in church this weekend.

Paul Harvey's golden days were long past. He was where America was in the 1960's and 70's, and even the 1980's to a degree. As the rise of talk and shock radio came along, he really became a legacied sideshow that the station manager inherited and couldn't get rid of. And his opinions and attitudes were becoming highly racist and classist as he got older - much like my beloved Mike Royko. Both Paul and Mike embodied a white middle-class that was compassionate when younger, but certainly less empathetic as they aged and became reflective of our culture's obsession with self-importance.

Perhaps some of it was more Rush than not. I only occasionally heard Harvey on the radio growing up - my parents never listed to news radio or talk. I heard Harvey the most in college as the news radio station played his syndicated broadcast at noon, and the shop radio was always on so the knuckle-draggers could listen to Rush immediately after. But before Rush, there was Paul Harvey, propagandizing on God & Country and for Joe McCarthy and for the War in Vietnam - even though Paul turned with the rest of the country when the bodies were stacked too high and the blood began to flow in our own streets. But in 2003, he was right alongside the administration in declaring that there were no civilians any longer, and that 9/11 must be bloodily avenged.

My only hope is that in the decades to come, our culture might revere Rachel Maddow or Amy Goodman as much as Harvey when their time comes to pass.

5 comments:

Twinky P* said...

He died? Wow. I grew up hearing his bit every day. 'Course, now I realize my dad's a wingnut, so I guess I was being propagandized. I did hear Harvey more recently, and you're right, he's a right wing tool. But it's like the smell of incense brings warm memories of the Catholic church of my childhood, the "gooood day" was one of them dinner time signals disconnected from the madness of today.

Anjha said...

I remember the voice and "...that is the rest of the story..."

He used to play on my mom's radio as a kid. She listened to talk radio all of the time...as I remember it was pretty straight forward and, if anything, fairly progressive.

This was the early to mid 1970s and mom was a frontrunner for women's rights and environmental advocacy, and as I remember talk news was a part of that.

This was before the "Reagan Revolution" and before the right wing freaks took over all of the media.

I did not know that Paul Harvey moved right. That is too bad.

I was sad to hear of his passing because in my memory it was always just neat stories, Americana, that he told.

snark said...

I don't think I ever heard him once.

But I can appreciate your observing his rightward drift as he aged. We got together with my family to celebrate mom's 76th birthday this weekend and my dad said something that made me cringe. The discussion had turned to the crap heap that the country finds itself in these fine days and my dad made a sorta off the cuff comment. He said that as much as he does not like the religious right turning the country back over to them might be the only way to stem the tide of greed and immorality that has gripped the country. Now I know my dad and he has no love lost for the religious right. I can only chalk it up to the world weariness that must come with old age. It was definitely said with a lot of frustration.

Anjha said...

Interesting, snark.

I wonder if everyone moves to the Right in their old age...or to the Left. Maybe it is just a digging in the heals toward a particular ideology. 'Cause there are plenty of examples of radical old hippies, too.

My mom, the one who was very Progressive when I was young, is now an extreme Right Wing freak - though she would not admit it.

She moved back to the depressed one horse (3 taverns and 4 churches) town that she grew up in and hangs out with the old drunks in the bar and they all bitch about taxes and the immigrants and govt and whatever else.

She used to be so Progressive and now I cannot talk to her about anything meaningful because she is "certain" about all of this mythological crap...like "Obama is a Muslim" and other stories told about Dems.

It is wiernd and it is not something that I ever thought that I would see in my lifetime.

I do not think that it is a factor of age as much as it is environment.

My dad, OTH, who was always backwards and anti-woman's rights, anti-other, (he grew up in the red neck south with neighbors with white sheets and shit) - my dad has become very Progressive in his old age. Bizarre.

He lives here, by me. Big city and all.

Judith said...

Well, this old hippie would slit her wrists before moving to the Right. If anything, my belief in the values of the Left are even more entrenched than ever.

My Grandparents listened to Harvey. I remember loving his stories about people, events and lost loves. I never thought of Harvey being Left or Right, just wonderful stories.