What’s Still the Matter with Kansas?

Back in 2004, author Thomas Frank exposed his state as the hotbed of anti-elitist conservatism in his book, What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. Apparently Kansans didn’t heed his advice or else they all took a trip with Dorothy to Oz. Frank warned that the political movement of his state to the right- voting for a right-lurching, increasingly evangelized Republican Party that has implemented economic policies that have hurt workers and helped the rich- has hurt the poor and working-class people. Ironically, many of these same poor working class Kansans are themselves evangelicals.

In the 1890’s, Kansas was the center of leftist populism- a movement led by farmers who had suffered great losses due to recent and pervasive drought.Their livelihood collapsed, triggering low crop prices, falling land values, and mounting debt.  Kansan farmers found little help in either the Republican or Democratic parties, so they joined the People’s Party.  The People’s Party  wanted to change the monetary system to make currency more readily available to the farmers for loans to save their homesteads. They wanted to create an income tax with a sliding scale based on earnings so that in bad times they would pay less tax. Further, they wanted to prevent foreign ownership of land which was being bought up cheaply during the drought. Finally, the farmers wanted to overhaul the election process, giving the public more control.

Were these radical ideas or simply demands of a grassroots democracy? Have these demands been addressed by Congress in the past 120 years?  Or, has plutocracy been hiding nicely under the wings of American government for quite a long time? This topic needs to be further developed, but I’d like to head back to the Kansas of today- or rather yesterday.

The former senator and right-wing governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback signed into law a bill outlawing Sharia, or Islamic law in the state. Yes, you read that correctly. Kansans in 2012 are ‘worried’ that Sharia Law may engulf their state. Seriously, that’s what Kansans are worried about. A spokeswoman for the governor said that the bill “makes it clear that Kansas courts will rely exclusively on the laws of our state and our nation when deciding cases and will not consider the laws of foreign jurisdictions.”

Of course, as any child who has graduated from high school already knows that; it’s in the U.S. Constitution. Yet, apparently, Kansans want to be doubly sure that laws from foreign jurisdictions will not be valid throughout their rectangular state hiding in the wilderness.

Back in 2004, Thomas Franks warned us [and his fellow Kansans] that fundamentalist Christians had a choke-hold on the state; yesterday the governor proved that few Kansans read the book.

This Memorial Day weekend, people all across that state will feel more reassured than ever as they hang their flags in front of their homes that Muslims will not tread on them!


13 thoughts on “What’s Still the Matter with Kansas?

  1. Watching a History Channel program, I was surprised to learn how advanced Kansas was over their neighbor to the east, Missouri, in the 19th Century. The fact that Kansas could swing so far the other way in less than 100 years worries me about the entire Country.

    Oklahoma passed a similar anti-Sharia law, but it was found to be unconstitutional about a year ago. What is so lame about passing that kind of law is that it would make following ANY religious law in a legal document illegal; that would cover church marriage laws, instructions in a person’s Last Will & Testament, etc. Just as a Christian might write anyone committing adultery would be disinherited, a Muslim might write into their will anyone breaking a Sharia law would be disinherited. What is so amusing is that this is EXACTLY the kind of interference in religious the “fringe” groups are always protesting against.

    (I’m having a harder and harder time being civil to people who push laws that are so uncivil. That includes much of my family.)

    1. That includes much of my family

      What is difficult with family members, I have learned, is that you wonder where they ‘went wrong’ in the maturing process of adulthood. Not only in political matters, but in religious matters too. Actually, the combination of the two is catalytic in showing the idiocy that results. Jesus did not live his life worrying about whether the well-to-do were comfortable or whether people could buy a new camel or whether they ought to pay taxes.

      Yet, for some odd [read comfortable] reason, American ‘Christians’ believe that the entire purpose of the life of Jesus was to save them and insure their after-life position in heaven. Naturally, that oh-so personal benefit is uniquely self-serving and absolves them from caring for anybody else in the world [or neighborhood].

      1. It’s the group psycholgy aspect that I mentioned a few days ago, M_R. And, it’s trust. The trust and the group re-enforces each other, and there is not very much one can do to change it. Many states are that way. Do you think that Utah or Idaho, will vote for
        Romney or Obama? It’s a no brainer, isnt’it? They both are Mormon states and they will vote for the Mormon; they trust the Mormon religion and Romney is a full fledged member of the group. An early surmise on my part is that Obama will win the
        election with a minority of the states voting for him. As I see it,
        the only states that Obama has a chance of winning from the
        Mississippi River thru the intermountain west are Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Iowa, and those states because of the growing Latino populations, escept for Iowa. Group psychology and trust trumphs all….

  2. I was under the impression that being exclusively anti-sharia law was unconstitutional for specifying one religion but not others?

    The Kansans are ignorant and idiot bigots.

    They believe apparently in people riding on dionsaurs (possibly the three wisemen?).

    They are right wing wrong dingalingers.

    I wanted to be sure you saw my post inspired -and which gives a link and credit to – your post on the Scopes Monkey trial. Thank you for that inspiration. Also coming up, and of possible intrest to you and your co-bloggers is the series I am writing, with Laci’s kind legal intervention, on blog and blogger harassment (and how to make it stop).

    The canine Laci is a lovely loving little lap dog.

    The human Laci has nice sharp very large leagle beagle teeth, powered by an excellent brain. I love his brain, I really do. It is a wonderful brain, wonderfully educated. He is very kind in coming to my assistance in dealing with a person who is scary obsessive, including possibly showing up on my doorstep yesterday. Whereas the quite respectable brain in my skull is covered by a lot of very red hair, denoting a very stubborn woman. It is a potent combination, those two brains!

    If I have to go through this, I’m damned well going to provide every reader with the same tools and means of gathering data to push back against THEIR harassers as well — because so many of us have encountered that problem behavior from some people.

      1. We experimented with word press earlier this year, unsuccessfully. It did not stop this particular person from harassing us either.

        1. It ought to have stopped the person because once he/she has posted a comment, you can block the IP, email or name so that they cannot post another comment again.

          1. There are some easy ways to get around those blocks, but I won’t go into it because it might just encourage some trolls. Lucky for most of us the stalkers aren’t bright enough to figure some things out.

            There has been talk of beefing security on the Internet, but then you’re also talking about possible censorship. But ya gotta love it when certain fringe blogs block some comments, then swear they’re too stupid to know how to do that; they’re partially right.

    1. Looking forward to your post. There is a website from Detroit that has posted pictures of my spouse, pictures of me, and many very disturbing pictures of naked people doing disturbing things. I has a lawyer write them a letter asking our pictures be removed. They have ignored my requests.

      (The webmaster of that site seems to have a bone to pick with me and this is how he’s doing it.)

      1. Skip contacting the asshole; try contacting whoever gives them access to theinternet in the first place. It is almost certainly a violation of the terms of service to which he agrees. You mgiht also go to the next stage, file a complaint with your local law enforcement and contact whichver prosecuting attorney works with that law enforcement. It is worth ‘LEO shopping’ if you will for the proper law enforcement. Some local law enforcement, depending on where you live, have investigators who have specialized training, or even work exclusively or primarily in internet investigations, with prosecutors. You also need to find out where the offending content is originating, and that investigator may be able to help you with that. Internet providers will provide information to law enforcement that they don’t provide to us, they also provide that data in response to certain kinds of subpoenas where they can clearly recognize that content is a problem. There is a whole separate technical expertise relating to IP addresses, that you need to push back at their technical expertise hiding where they are. If you know where the offending entity is originating, then you can also file a complain to THAT jurisidiction (separate from and in addition to your own) and that law enforcement will contact them. Laci has persuaded law enforcement in locations other than his own to speak quite persuasively to offending individuals who are harassing people at other locations remote from him. There are additional remedies to what you;ve done so far. Blogs are not public property; no one is entiitled to free speech that involves someone else’s content – assuming you are not a public figure, candidate for office, movie star, that sort of thing..

  3. Who said the following:

    “The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists
    that property shall be the servant and not the master of the
    commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man’s making
    shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it.
    The citizens of the United States must effectively control the
    mighty commercial forces which they themselves have called into
    being…The absence of effective state, and, especially, national,
    restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small
    class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men,
    whose chief objective is to hold and increase their power.”

    1. Give us a clue……Did he ride a horse?

      Seriously, when I took African-American history at The University of Toledo, I was told it was all a lie and the unit that actually did it was made up of all black men.

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