Denims: American Vatniks.

Yesterday I warned Americans about the danger of Russian-style, post-modernist “unreality” taking hold in America if fear-mongering confidence men like Glenn Beck are not opposed. Today I encountered a piece from the heartland which shows you that America is not too far removed from Russia when it comes to poor critical thinking skills.


Oh yes, it’s that time again.

If America has any edge on Russia in terms of political theatrics, it’s that the American Republican party is pretty good at keeping the real nutcases bottled up in state legislatures while only letting more moderate types ascend to the House and Senate in DC. Sure, there are exceptions, such as when it comes to reproductive rights issues, and the party has been steadily moving to the right. However, for the foreseeable future we can rest assured that the honorable Cody “Bubba” Jerritt, whose pet projects include returning to the gold standard, proclaiming Jesus Christ the “True King of America”, and automatic secession from the USA in the event of an invasion by UN troops will never manage to escape Alabama. He’d be defeated in the primary and forced to go back home to his home town of Methlabburg.

Of course if you give these people enough time to stew and spread their message, they could one day gain more influence on a national scale, much the same as the religious right achieved during the Culture Wars of the 90’s and under the Bush years. What is more, is that even if they can’t influence power at the federal level, it doesn’t mean they can’t totally wreck things in their states. There’s a reason why reactionaries throughout American history tended to be advocates of states’ rights after the Civil War. At the state level they can bully and intimidate people with impunity unless the federal government steps in.

Who are these people? Well today’s item is about dipshits in Oklahoma who are upset about the “political agenda” in their public school history curriculum. What political agenda you might ask? It’s not patriotic enough! Apparently, deliberately molding and shaping a history curriculum so as to make it more “patriotic” is not a political agenda at all. Except when other countries do it, of course.

Let’s check out a few horrifying excerpts, shall we?

An Oklahoma legislative committee overwhelmingly voted to ban Advanced Placement U.S. History class, persuaded by the argument that it only teaches students “what is bad about America.” Other lawmakers are seeking a court ruling that would effectively prohibit the teaching of all AP courses in public schools.

Hmmm…This sounds really familiar. When I was a young lad we had conservatives complaining about “politically correct” textbooks that were supposedly denigrating America’s great white heroes. Incidentally, I never encountered any of those books. All my textbooks were pretty much “Hooray for America.” James Loewen used twelve commonly-used history textbooks as the basis of his book Lies my Teacher Told Me, which was first published in 1995. All of these books were overly patriotic and totally glossed over numerous negative chapters in American history. Based on this, it is highly unlikely that these AP courses are using the works of Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky in their syllabus.

Fisher said the Advanced Placement history class fails to teach “American exceptionalism.” The bill passed the Oklahoma House Education committee on Monday on a vote of 11-4.

I always find it funny when people act like failing to believe or in this case teach American exceptionalism is a negative thing. To the rational person, this is like complaining that the schools don’t teach Holocaust denial, racial science, or the divine right of kings. Basically this Fisher fellow is upset that the schools won’t teach kids that Santa Claus is real.

Here’s another pair of ominous excerpts:

The RNC said a new framework for the exam “reflects a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.”

Under the changes proposed in Colorado “students would only be taught lessons depicting American heritage in a positive light, and effectively ban any material that could lead to dissent.”

Only two eagles? Godless Communists!

Only two eagles? Godless Communists!

People who follow the circus that is the Russian Duma ought to take these quotes to heart. Americans would be naive indeed to believe that the mentality of the Russian vatnik cannot be exported. Russia has a large population of people who are cynical, bitter, eager to blame others for their problems, and perpetually outraged at their inability to achieve their dreams. America has a population with the same mentality, even if it is smaller or less intense due to a higher standard of living. Setting these minor nuances aside, rest assured that there are more than enough people in the US who would happily wield the power of the government, even the federal government, in order to suppress by force of law any viewpoints which they do not like. The only difference between the US and Russia in this respect is that in America you have far more resources and freedoms at your disposal to fight those people, be it on the streets, in the school boards, in the state legislatures, and so on.

America’s vatniks, whom we should call denims perhaps, can only win if good people let them. Do not just dismiss these cranks by saying this is just “flyover country.” Today that may be true. Five to ten years down the road it could be another story as repeated victories “mainstream” these idiotic beliefs. Russia’s problem is vatnost; America’s biggest threat may be denimism.

Though you hate them so, Vatnik, know that you have legions of brothers across the sea. They'd hate you too if the could find you on a map, but they consider teaching the existence of other countries to be a liberal, pagan conspiracy.

Though you hate them so, Vatnik, know that you have legions of brothers across the sea. They’d hate you too if the could find you on a map, but they consider teaching the existence of other countries to be a liberal, pagan conspiracy.

PS- For those of you who don’t like the term denim to refer to American vatniks, rest assured I’m not married to that name. If you have a better suggestion I’d like to hear about it in the comments.

17 thoughts on “Denims: American Vatniks.

  1. Asehpe

    What I keep wondering about American vatniks or denims is how come it seems now plausible to say that their ideas might go mainstream. Why is the right apparently having a rebirth? What makes it possible that kooky ideas spread even in low vatnik density areas? For surely it can’t be just Fox News and propaganda? Apparently there was something with liberalism and left-wing activism that prompted this reaction — or was it something else?

    1. .

      Imagine the terror in your heart when gay people can marry in ALABAMA and SOUTH CAROLINA and you have a BLACK president. Even the most casual couch potato bigot would be moved to act in some way, even if it is to have a textbook changed.

    2. Jim Kovpak Post author

      To answer that question, I’d recommend picking up the classic book by Thomas Frank called What’s the Matter with Kansas?

      Of course it goes back deeper. The New Left had a very flawed philosophy which eventually abandoned class-based politics in favor of identity politics. Frank picks up in the early 90’s where Democrats started going after young professionals rather than sticking with the working class.

      1. Asehpe

        So, basically it’s the New Left’s fault? If they had stuck to class-based politics we’d still have a Democratic South? (My personal impression was that the Left became a tad sanctimonious and holier-than-thou, telling people they were bad and wrong and speaking with superiority, as if they were the new noble class. The fact that the college-educated class was basically left-wing also contributed to making the Left look like a bunch of people who thought they knew everything just because of their diplomas, while we Real Americans deal with real life, etc. etc. etc.)

        I haven’t read this book, but I’ll look it up, thanks for the reference.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Yeah that’s a big part of it. They went for identity politics, based on a flawed theory, and the right beat them over the head with it. They still haven’t learned decades later.

        BTW- Another book I can recommend on this subject, though I have to disagree with some positions of the authors, is known as The Rebel Sell(or in the US, A Nation of Rebels) by Heath and Potter. That book deals with the origins of identity politics’ flawed thinking.

  2. Sergey Lavrov's Raging Bile Duct

    Going from “quilted jackets” to “denims” is a bit of a stretch, honestly. The closest we have in terms of meaning is probably “yahoo” or “redneck”, but that doesn’t really cover the political dimension, at least not directly. Appending “-nik” to the end of an english word is probably the best way to go about it. “Rednik” is a fun play on words but not especially descriptive. Podniks, maybe, after the Pod People? In the sense that they are malefic parasites from a dying planet (the fifties).

    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      This is a hard decision to make. At first I thought “flannels,” but then I realized these days that’s usually associated with hipsters. The main problem I have with “denim” is that wearing all denim is a Canadian stereotype. My Canadian friend showed me a photo of a guy wearing matching blue denim jeans and jacket and told me this is known as a “Canadian tuxedo.”

      The problem with redneck is that there is a rural connotation and these days many of these people live in urban areas, or better said suburban areas.

      1. Sergey Lavrov's Raging Bile Duct

        Yeah, and that’s kind of the problem. Drunk, insecure pseudo-patriots don’t really have a uniform here. Flag pins, maybe. When you think of the trappings of “patriots” in America, it’s more or less what you posted above: eagles crying, flags waving, and Chuck Norris with an inexplicable bible-style halo usually reserved for saints and apostles.

        Though, from my understanding, “vatnik” in the original sense was a piece of clothing you didn’t see much outside of rural areas anyway. If that’s true, then “redneck” is likely the closest in meaning. Though, as I said, it only has a connotation of reactionism/conservatism, and doesn’t outright mean “member of imperialist dictator fanclub with questionable fashion sense”.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        The drunk thing is problematic too. A lot of these American conservatives tend to look down on frequent drinking. At least the hardcore religious ones do. That’s why the hold communion with grape juice instead of wine. IIRC grape juice was actually INVENTED to avoid drinking during communion.

  3. Paul Canning (@pauloCanning)

    Viewing this from the UK these people tend to, yes, unfortunately, form our stereotype of Americans – not just those in Dixie. I think that’s true in France as well.

    On the idea of these people gaining serious power. Although a regular read of mine,, a NY liberal, would caution me against it, I would say the GOP is out of the picture in Presidential elections. And for pretty much fact based reasons.

    hence they may control Congress but the can’t do their worst as they won’t have the White House.

    I closely followed the 2008 and to a lesser extent 2012 elections. 2008 was noted for Nate Silver and his accurate predictions. They ran totally counter to the MSM narrative (including the fucking BBC) of a ‘two-horse race’. Similar happened in 2012.

    The Repthugs, the nuts you write abut here, actually convinced themselves that Silver was lying and made up their own polls. They thought, still think, the non-existant ACORN and the Black Panthers stole the election.

    The reality, as I’ve read it from those who study these things, is that the sole chance of the GOP winning back the White House is if a proper centrist wins their nomination. Because the loonies control the nomination process that won’t happen. Hence that, plus stuff like Presidential elction turnout, demographics etc. seems, on balance, to condemn them to electoral college oblivion.

    Where nomoremister would caution against this picture would be that the US MSM makes a habit of pretending that right wing douchebags aren’t douchebags – another part of that narrative I just mentioned,.

    Great blog BTW. Good writing and a interesting, knowledgeable and usually original take.

    On the name: Hicks?

    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      I too have to express doubt about when the Republicans will next have a shot at the White House. I’m not sure they’ll be able to muster up enough Hillary-hate to get their candidate in, just because they managed to drum up far more Obama hate in two elections and that still failed. All their history aside, they simply cannot hate Hillary Clinton more than Obama.

      As for nominating a moderate, however, I wouldn’t be too sure. Both McCain and Romney were candidates that have severe differences with the Republican base. Romney was a double failure because he was Mormon(evangelical Protestants hate LDS), and he couldn’t pull off the down-home country boy act that Bush could do.

      I could see the GOP having a shot if they bring out Jeb Bush and cast him as a return to more “stable” times, much like how Putin is cast in Russia. Of course this wouldn’t be very truthful, but we’re dealing with people who have no memory and don’t live in reality.

      On the other hand, Obama certainly hasn’t been a lame duck president; he’s been saying and doing a lot of things that actually surprised me. This may counteract one thing the Republicans have managed to capitalize on to win back congress- disappointment with Democratic leaders. If Obama stays active and gets some real work in(e.g. his initiative to fund community college education), he might retain enough votes for the Democratic party.

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