Wednesday, November 5, 2014

We Cling To Our Guns And Our Religion

Dale Matson

I reside in a red area of the blue state of California. I vote in every election knowing that in the great scheme of things my vote will be a meaningless gesture. When candidate Obama spoke at a private fundraising dinner in San Francisco in 2008. He stated, “And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

He was referring specifically to folks in rural Pennsylvania but his comments generalize across the entire United States and include me. I take the comment very personally because I am a part of a huge demographic group president Obama does not understand or care to understand.
I am familiar with his elitist and condescending remarks. They are not unique to him. It is the ideation of the liberal left imbedded in and proselytized from the public universities. I worked as a plumber and heavy equipment operator for 17 years. I carried my lunch in a paper sack and listened to Paul Harvey on my truck radio as I ate. I had a blue collar and a redneck scorched by the summer sun and chapped by the winter winds.

I went back to the university I was drafted out of for Army service during Viet Nam. I served two years and returned to a university I no longer recognized. The students tore down and burned our flag as I watched in dismay. My commander in Chief Lyndon Johnson was a man I despised yet I served during his presidency because my country called on me.

Years later I finished my bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and Ph.D. I could not get a tenure track position in Wisconsin because I was a white middle-aged male. I did not fit an affirmative action category. A Christian University in Central California eventually hired me and I retired after 15 years as an emeritus professor 10 years ago. Even in that conservative setting professors who had gone from being a student to being a university instructor looked down their noses at tradesmen and agricultural workers. Those who worked with their hands were second-class to those who fashioned ideas.

I was born and raised in Michigan and hunted and fished with my brother and father for many years. My dad had a Model 99EG 300 Savage and a double barrel Lefever 16 gauge shotgun. My brother had a Marlin 22 handed down from my grandfather and a 16 gauge bolt action Mossberg. I started with a Daisy pump BB gun.  Guns were a part of my life and a part of the experiences, which forged a strong bond between my father, brother and me. My sons and I use guns but only for target shooting. Guns are still a part of my life.

I gave my life to Christ in Sunday school when I was eight years old. Except for a prolonged period of rebellion, I have been a Christian my entire life. In public school we said the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of every assembly. “Under God” was added to our daily pledge of allegiance when I was in fourth grade. We were well aware of those who were not Protestant. Eddie W. went to Catechism after school. Judy W. didn't list a doctor on her health card because she was Christian Scientist. No one was singled out for being different. We were allowed to be different. When we would sing the national anthem, many of our teachers would cry as they sang.

In sixth grade I was the student who raised the flag each morning and took it down after school each day. I can still feel the heavy texture of the flag in my hands. The Ten Commandments were on the wall in my senior year government class taught by liberal Mrs. Elvie M. My faith was a part of the culture and my public education. We received both “academic” and “citizenship” grades. School was preparing us for citizenship in a democracy.

I am an ordinary person who was born here and has lived in this country for 70 years. I am not afraid of those who are different than me and welcome anyone who is willing to work and contribute. I am willing to lend a hand up. What concerns me is that the man leading this country Barack Obama sees these values as anachronistic, simplistic and an impediment to his vision of progress. I feel he disrespects those of us who hold to our religion and our guns. Without help from many in our group, he would not be president today. Does he really care equally about all of the people he governs? Does he even respect us?  

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