Romero kept coming to my mind as I read Persecution. Never mind all the other gaudy cine-artistes; it's Romero who got America right. If only we'd known he was making documentaries set in the near future -- now, that is.
I should've seen it, because believe it or not, I actually hung out, 20 years ago, with a group of people who DID take Romero seriously as an American prophet, and DID try to prepare for this suppurating putrescent version of it now lurching across the world. This was a group of Las Vegas punk rockers who for some reason let me into their desert rites when I taught at UNLV in '86. They all came from bedrock Christian-crazy families; they all hated those families deeply, though silently; and they all took the three Romero zombie films as their Gospel and training manual. They watched Dawn of the Dead at least once a week, and spent most of their waking hours (which were irregular) drilling on how to survive the attacks of the living dead. They would interrupt a conversation in their ratty van to say, "OK, what if the zombies jumped us at the next corner?" and then go through possible military responses, like the good commandos they were. The drilling inconvenienced them; for example, one of them, Warren, insisted on taking his hockey stick (which he felt would be ideal for splitting zombie skulls) wherever he went. This limited his social life, but Warren was training for the right war, and we Berkeley snots were training for wasted lives as minor clerics.
Cut to 2003, America: Dawn of the Devout. Day of the Dummies. Reign of the Godfearing dead, the creatures Twain feared most. They have crawled out of the grave in vast hordes, in places like Missouri (David Limbaugh, the dust-jacket informs us, "lives in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, with his wife and children").
Their rule is unchallenged. And yet they're not happy. They need the warmth of martyrdom--but how can you feel persecuted when everyone from the President on down is as shrilly devout as you are?
Christians need persecutors as urgently as deep-sea fish need all those tons of pressure. America is a frustrating culture for them, because their creed is only a semi-official state religion, never quite decreed by law.
The fact is, Yahweh's rules were designed for a place like Saudi Arabia, not the US. They don't fit into public schools, or even a vestigially independent judiciary -- or, in fact, any judiciary at all. Or, for that matter, cars. With women drivers. Or medicine that actually works. Or a tenable biological explanation of the fossil record.
But to blame His rules would lead the Christian zombie into a real, instant Hell: dropping out of his warm little church into the terrible loneliness of the WalMart deserts. So he buys the work of holy pimps like David Limbaugh, with comforting tales of all the mean little tricks the secularists play on the poor Christians.
Limbaugh's job is made easier by the help of hundreds of handy rightwing thinktanks, legal funds and advocacy groups. These well-paid agitators, funded by America's innumerable lunatic plutocrats, provide an efficient clipping service publicizing every outrage against God's chosen. If a circuit court in Iowa orders the local Baptists to stop shouting in the local public library, these champions of the Word spread the dire news instantly. If a public school in Pennsylvania requires a nine-year-old "preacher" to stop bible-bashing his schoolmates as they try to eat their lunches, these warriors of the Spirit are on the spot to alert the devout to this latest Calvary.
And that, friends, is how David Limbaugh manages to fill 400 pages with petty carping about curbs on school prayer, and rude treatment of Creationist "scientists"--and has the sheer gall to call that "persecution." You'd think even a zombie would weary of it after a hundred pages, but Ma Limbaugh didn't raise any quitters, and little Davey sets to the task with the same determination that helped Rush acquire a record-breaking 30,000 OxyContin capsules.