Columns » Bob Lancaster

Our sharp left turn


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A troll who haunts the Arkansas Times blog alleged in a recent post that "The Times has taken a sharp turn left since Lindsey Millar took over as editor."

Horse hockey. Actually when Lindsey Millar was sentenced to the Times editorship nearly a year ago it wouldn't have been possible for him to bring any point-of-view order or discipline to this stable of cornbread Jeremiahs even if he'd been of a mind to try. We were already about as far left as we could get, by Arkansas standards, which hold that you're "way out in left field" whenever you're in fair territory anywhere on the port side of the right-field foul line.

Here at the Arkansas Times we don't have mandatory talking points (or much of mandatory anything else) as they do in the Republican Party and on Fox News, but if somehow, inconceivably, new-Editor Lindsey did indeed issue turn-left marching orders to our ongoing AT Chinese fire drill, he forgot to send the memo to ol' moi.

Or decided there was no point, far gone as I obviously was into the leftist fog. When I was just starting out, I took Horace Greeley's advice to "Go Left, young man," and I've never since really come back in from the left wastes. Farther out than the anarchists and nihilists, I'm as pink as John Boehner is orange. That's no brag, just fact, and I think the record will bear me out.

To wit, I've always hid behind the First Amendment and tried to debilitate the Second, hoping to screw deer hunters out of their blunderbi and teeny-weenied faux packers like Huckabee out of their compensatory lapel bulges that pretend they're concealing nines. I've hunkered under the wall of separation, wanting to see it made ever higher and stronger, until unbreachable by the thumper horde.  

I've favored socialized medicine, nationalizing the oil companies, forced fluoridation, abortion on demand, death panels, union solidarity, affirmative action, billionaires paying higher tax rates than their secretaries, and the government telling you and me both what type of lightbulbs we can buy, and how many watts. Also, mixing in Sharia law a few statutes at a time. Cutting the 10 Commandments back to four. And reparations for anyone making a legitimate claim.  

I've hugged more trees than Tarzan. I've loved me some food stamps, especially using them to buy giant T-bone steaks, Old Milwaukee forties, cigarettes, and lottery tickets. Saul Alinsky has been one of my heroes almost as long as Noam Chomsky has. I.F. Stone still is, nemmind the KGB pocket wads. I believe with Huey in everybody using the same dipper. I wore earth shoes as long as they were on the market. I've tried out for a speaking part on the apology tour. I took the rebuttal side on exceptionalism. I would've burned my draft card if I'd ever got one, and my bra if I'd ever had one.

Some of these were positions taken when drunk, or febrile, or joshing, or possessed, or in ridicule of fashionable extremism or imbecility. Some meant only to hooraw the other side for eternally being such a bunch of insufferable a-holes. But there you are. It's no matter why, the record doesn't lie and you have to man up.  You can't blame demons, intoxicants, distractions, or the hortative efforts of an editor new to this kidney of asylum-wardening.  

All this Red lore passed down to me through the genome of a long line of surrender monkeys. In grade school in rural Grant County there wasn't a one of my classmates that I didn't call "comrade." Comrade Lane beat my ass on the schoolbus one time. Comrade Smith told me the first dirty joke I ever heard, and Comrade Waddell explained to me what the dirty part meant. To distaff Comrade Gwin I would take an adolescent shine that wouldn't diminish over long decades.

I remember telling a couple of my whoopee-driver uncles, "Sawmillers of Grant County unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains." They didn't know I was quoting Karl Marx, and I didn't know it either, and none of us could possibly have cared less. One of them said in reply, "What about my come-along? Would I lose that too?"

We always had a May Day parade, with a Workers' Paradise float. No less festive for being imaginary. Another fellow-traveler alarm-tripper the iconic triptych over the mantle — pictures of George Washington, Jesus, and Stalin. Stalin's with the cutline quotation, "You can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs." Evil, absolutely, but who in that place and time knew what the hell an omelette was?  

An irreverent thought about Stalin was how gross it must have been for his flunkies for the next two or three hours after somebody with that humongous a mustache blew his nose. Knowing he'd have you shot if you noticed or tittered or retched.  I imagine the picture of him on our mantle was torn out of a magazine by my Aunt Odie or Miss Lola Rogers, probably thinking it was a picture of Clark Gable. I don't think it was up there long. George was a coloring book escapee, and Tim Tebow's Lord and Savior  a jigsaw puzzle, lovingly pieced together, varnished, and framed.

I can't blame any of it on the usual-suspect leftist, atheist, pinhead college professors because I wasn't in college long enough for them to turn my head.


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