Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Excerpts- "How a left-wing journalist survives the Bible Belt"

The following is an excerpt from my new book; How a left-wing journalist survives the Bible Belt. It is an autobiography on my career as a writer. This is from the fist chapter.

By SJ Otto

Living in Wichita

It was at the age of 13 that I moved here to Wichita, Kansas. I moved from St. Louis, Missouri. Wichita was a different world. It is in the Bible Belt. It is a Republican stronghold. It was like that when I moved here in 1969 and it is still like that today.
It is a strong hold for the Religious Right. They keep calling themselves different things but they are always the same. They organize to stop topless dancing in the bars. They have worked hard to stop any kind of nudity any where any place.   
Places that sell nude magazines, movies or any other kind of sexual activity is banned in Wichita.
They also have large organizations trying to ban abortion. Because of the women's movement in this town has been very strong, the Religious Right has been unable to stop abortion, despite their best efforts. 
Then there is the Religious Rights hold on power. The Religious Right has taken its place in the Republican Party and that party holds power on the entire town. The movie What's the Matter with Kansas? 2009, focused on the people and culture of Wichita's religious and political leaders.
At one time Kansas was a dry state. Liquor by the drink or open bars have only been legal for about the last 20 years. All vice is frowned upon by Wichita's religious community.
There are other conservative forces at work. This is the home town for the Koch brothers, Charles and David.  The Kochs own Wichita and like a animal that pees to mark its territory the Kochs have their names on buildings everywhere, including Koch Community Plaza, Koch Scouting Center, and the Koch Orangutan and Chimpanzee Habitat at the Sedgwick County Zoo. They have their name on the Koch Aquatic Center at the North Branch Y.M.C.A., and there is the Plains Nature Center’s Koch Habitat Hall. Don't forget the Henry Levitt  Arena, which is now called the Koch Arena.[1]
The Koch's have a lot of supporters in Wichita. I honestly believe many of these people would gladly give either Koch brother a blow job just for the asking. When it comes to the Koch brothers and other important conservative industrialists, the town's motto could easily be "bend over and spread your cheeks."
When I moved here in 1969 I would say most of the elected leaders are conservative. Today I would say the political atmosphere and trend has been to move to the right and keep moving to the right. It seems as if people vote for whoever is to the political right. After a few years the policies fail and the next leader blames "leftist" ideas for those failings. Then the next politician moves even farther to the right. And it goes on and on. 
Wichita sits in the middle of the country. It gets hot in the summer, in the 100s and high 90s some of June, and all of July and August. In the winter it often gets cold. The lowest temperature I can remember is -10̊  and that was at night. This part of the country is flat. Not much in the way of hills in Wichita. Because of that, it floods anytime it gets too much rain.
This used to be an agricultural town. There used to be the "ag report" (short of agriculture, as in the farm report) on the radio. But now it is more urban and the farm community has been pushed out. Since the turn of the 20th Century, Wichita became the "Air Capital City," meaning that a lot of airplanes are manufactured here. And there has been little diversity since those factories came in. There are other businesses, but aircraft manufacturing is the main one.
This is a business town and even many of the town's workers are anti-union.
However there are some left-wing political groups here as well. There is a handful of democratic socialists, mostly members of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). There is a Peace and Social Justice Center in Wichita. And there are a few spots where Democrats get elected. There is an active Democratic Party, despite their lack of seats in the Kansas legislature. There is an active gay community and there are a sizable number of atheist living in Wichita. There is even an atheist meet-up group.
As for me, I'm a communist writer. That is I'm a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist. I don't consider myself dogmatic. I read other Marxist writers besides Mao. I even appreciate other philosophers. But that is my main political beliefs. It  is not easy to live in one of the country's most conservative town. But I've managed to do it.  

[1] SJ Otto, "Koch brothers are protested — while the rest of the city "bends over" for them," The Idiot Factor: Corruption Folly,


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