The Story Of Today’s America

Discussions on this blog tend to be conducted in relatively abstract terms. It can be easy to forget the power of particularity–the power of stories–to bring them home.

A lengthy report in last Sunday’s New York Times reminded me of that power–rather forcefully.

The article described one of the numerous fights over mask requirements, this particular one in Enid, Oklahoma. It began by focusing on a public meeting, and the discomfort of an Air Force sergeant, Jonathan Waddell, who had moved to Enid with his family seven years before, when he’d retired. He’d thrown himself into the community, and won a seat on the City Council. He supported the mask mandate–unlike the throng of people dressed in red who filled the chamber that night.

He had noticed something was different when he drove up in his truck. The parking lot was full, and people wearing red were getting out of their cars greeting one another, looking a bit like players on a sports team. As the meeting began, he realized that they opposed the mandate. It was almost everybody in the room.

The meeting was unlike any he had ever attended. One woman cried and said wearing a mask made her feel like she did when she was raped at 17. Another read the Lord’s Prayer and said the word “agenda” at the top of the meeting schedule seemed suspicious. A man quoted Patrick Henry and handed out copies of the Constitution.

“The line is being drawn, folks,” said a man in jeans and a red T-shirt. He said the people in the audience “had been shouted down for the last 20 years, and they’re finally here to draw a line, and I think they’re saying, ‘We’ve had enough.’”

 People were talking about masks, but Waddell said “it felt like something else.”

That “something else” became depressingly clear as the Times described the woman who had organized the red-shirted attendees. It’s one thing to speculate about the fears and resentments motivating QAnon and “Big Lie” believers and anti-vaccine cultists…but the Times story put a face on those resentments.

Melissa Crabtree is “a home-schooling mother who owns a business selling essential oils and cleaning products.

She said she came to the conclusion that the government was misleading Americans. For whose benefit she could not tell. Maybe drug companies. Maybe politicians. Whatever the case, it made her feel like the people in charge saw her — and the whole country of people like her — as easy to take advantage of.

“I don’t like to be played the fool,” said Ms. Crabtree, who also works as an assistant to a Christian author and speaker. “And I felt like they were counting on us — us being the general population — on being the fool.”

She felt contempt radiating from the other side, a sense that those who disagreed with her felt superior and wanted to humiliate her.

The article went into considerable detail about Crabtree’s unquestioning Evangelical religiosity, including her decision to homeschool her children to protect them from a culture she deplores–from its sexual “perversions” and the left’s “preoccupation with race” and its telling of history.

“Why all of a sudden are we teaching our 5-year-olds to be divided by color?” she said. “They don’t care what color your skin is until you tell them that that 5-year-old’s grandpa was mean 200 years ago.”

Crabtree’s organizing was successful; the mask mandate died. But the schism in Enid hardened.

Mr. Waddell voted for the mask mandate, and the reaction was immediate. The following Sunday, people he had prayed with for years avoided him at church. The greeters, an older couple he knew well, looked the other way when he walked by. Several people left the church altogether because of his association with it, he said.

It wasn’t just Waddell. Ben Ezzell, the city commissioner who introduced the mask mandate got veiled warnings  — mostly via email and Facebook. Someone dumped trash on his lawn. At one City Council meeting, “a man shouted that he knew where Mr. Ezzell lived. Another meeting got so tense that police officers insisted on escorting him to his car.”

In February, the Red Shirts swept the local elections, winning three seats on the City Council — including Mr. Waddell’s and Mr. Ezzell’s.  During the year, through a series of elections, appointments and City Council votes, they’ve placed four candidates on the school board and another four on the library board.

The article is lengthy, but I strongly encourage you to click through and read it in its entirety. It is eye-opening.

As the reporter noted, what we are seeing–nationally, and not just in Enid– is a deeply disturbing argument about what it means to be an American, and whose version of the country will prevail.


  1. Enid, Oklahoma… It seems the attitude and “beliefs” of the red shirts is a self-fulfilling expectation. By denying and disliking things they don’t understand they turn themselves into what they think the “government” thinks of them. Weird.

    The key element, though, seems to be the comment about teaching children about our history of racism. Therein, in my opinion, lies the nub of the issue. Essential oils and cleaning products don’t explain why the lights are on and that we’re not all sitting around a fire snapping flint spearpoints. How does homeschooling children in that environment work for a better future for those kids? How does a surgical mask make somebody feel as if they’ve been raped? It makes no sense.

  2. I would imagine those red shirts are symbolic. Not too long ago, those folks would have been wearing sheets and hoods to the meetings to protect their identities in the community.

    Times have changed.

    Of course, if Oklahoma had courageous men and women serving in the statehouses, they’d be pushing to eliminate the tax exemption for the churches organizing these political events. Oklahoma is just another red state to avoid unless that is your thing. Part of the sorting process.

    As for vaccine harm, we all know that Big Pharma controls the healthcare industry. We also know that Big Pharma controls the government. We also know that the government exempted Big Pharma from lawsuits and used our tax dollars to pump trillions into the healthcare industry and Wall Street in general before taking any action for the people.

    So, let me ask all you educated people, why do you trust Big Pharma and the Government with vaccines? 😉

    I’ve been doing critical thinking and researching the subject instead of just leaping on faith, and guess what? We got hoodwinked. Doctors right now are scared shitless because they were forced to vaccine people which caused injuries that are being covered up.

    However, the truth is moving fast. There will be massive lawsuits. Fauci won’t be able to hide.

    I don’t need a red shirt to use my brain. It’s God’s gift to us all. 😉

  3. As dismayed by this type of behavior – I am well aware that this type of thinking often burns itself out. Governing – as in being on the receiving end of angry constituents when trash isn’t picked up or barking dogs disturb sleep – is hard and boring. The response of outrage eventually will not suffice to motivate action and people will slink off, privately embarrassed at their own stupidity. I really believe this will end well. One can only hope.

  4. “Discussions on this blog tend to be conducted in relatively abstract terms. It can be easy to forget the power of particularity–the power of stories–to bring them home.”

    Like a selfish dog with a bone, I will repeat my “particularity” regarding the lack of receiving my 2021 Social Security Benefit Statement. It is due “particularly” to those red-shirted Trumpers who did mislead this country, and continue to do so, with their determinization to destroy Social Security and Medicare that has me FEARING I will NOT receive my monthly SS check on January 3, 2022. Added to my fears is the fact that Trump’s DeJoy remains our Postmaster General and my local Post Office did NOT deliver my statement; they have been notified. There is no way for a DEAF person to contact Social Security Administration without special ground-line telephone equipment which is discrimination.

    Even with President Joe Biden and the Democratic slim majority; I live in fear of my own government and have lost trust. The Indiana Republican Senate cut the amount Public Employee Retiree’s retirement checks this year and that continues into our future. I wear masks in public places, am fully vaccinated and boostered and fear my loss of income more than the Pandemic. A Facebook friend commented a few days ago that she has also not received her SS statement; makes me wonder how many others are in this situation and what it means.

  5. Bill Henry makes a good point which leads me to ask “What will Enid be like in five years?” My guess is that it will be just another small, dying town in a red state with a falling population and few prospects.

  6. The comment from the woman who organized that meeting is ironic. She doesn’t like to be played for a fool. Yet that is exactly what has happened – to her and everyone else at that meeting, and to the large numbers of Americans who are so insecure that they cannot bear the thought that the Anglo-Saxon-derived component of the population might not be larger in numbers than those “others” who are allowed to keep coming into the country.

  7. I just cannot bring myself to read yet ANOTHER article by the Times or the Post about TFG’s voters….it has the same effect on me as listening to a bad pop song from the 70’s over and over and over again. Show me ONE story about the 81 million people who voted for Biden.

    I’m hopeful that Mr. Henry is right…the movement will burn itself out. But even if it does it will leave indelible wounds and scars on local communities such as Enid that could take decades to heal. But if it doesn’t burn out, then I see the shades of blue and red in entire states becoming more bright and the impact on decisions as to where people choose to live and work profound. It’s not clear to me how these deepening blue and red states can agree to belong to the same country forever.

  8. I read that article, and my take on it is a little bit different than yours, Sheila. The “Right” is organized and outraged, and outrage and high emotions win elections. The “Left” is divided and disorganized, and will likely lose their majority in Congress, unless they become equally motivated at all levels of government. Where is the outrage at the attempted coup, the racist actions of persons who are supposed to represent the People, and the new Jim Crow laws that legislators are passing in many states across the country? The “Right” has known for decades how to organize at the grass roots level and win elections.
    So, what is the lesson to be learned from the efforts described in this article? What Melissa Crabtree has accomplished in Enid is exactly how our country is supposed to work; she became active about an issue that moved her, she organized her neighbors and accomplished change. The Left can learn from this example, and if it does not, and soon, we will lose our republic for generations.

  9. JoAnn, if you go to the Social Security website,, you can easily create your online account. Once you do, you’ll find your benefit letter there. I didn’t get mine in the mail, but did find it online. Like you, I have little faith in snail mail, so I rely on online sources.

  10. This is one of those days when I think back fondly to the original Star Trek.

    JoAnn, they didn’t send the snail mail notices this year. If you want to see what your income is, you have to go online.

  11. The Melissa Crabtrees exist everywhere in the rural areas of Indiana and it is frightening. What extreme right wing fake news source did she get her crazy viewpoints from? All of them? She and all the others who choose to fall for such false info are absolutely fools. Unfortunately, the rest of us will suffer from their willful ignorance because once they’ve been indoctrinated their minds can’t be changed.

  12. The article was one of the best articles of the year – read it and weep.

    John, you are so on target…

  13. Another example in a long list of examples as to why I believe the US is going to Hell in a hand basket. The US will end up as a dictatorship with a theocratic government much like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. I’m headed to a country that still believes in democracy and the rule of law.

  14. Peggy and Jan, thank you. I found a Feedback on-line at the SSA web page so sent information. Wasn’t sure what signing up for an account on SSA would provide. My daughter-in-law called but they wouldn’t talk to her; even after telling them I am totally deaf they said they needed to talk to me. Believe me; at this time, I am the last person they want to talk to, of course I would have no way to know when they hung up on me.

  15. This is more “Americans Brainwarped by Fox Spews and Rush Limbaugh for 30 years” who cannot tell the difference between truth and lies. I can’t bear to read more about them. Like Patrick, I want to read about more AOC thinkers that are going to change the world for the better. Science has already proven that bad news gets more eye balls than good news.
    Life is too short to give these a@@holes more press. F* ‘em.

  16. Todd: “I’ve been doing critical thinking and researching the subject…”

    Regarding the first point, no you haven’t. Regarding the second, researching topics via the internet is not a substitute for listening to professionals in the field.

  17. What Ms. Crabtree and the other “red shirts” don’t understand is that they are setting themselves up to be infected and to possibly die. NPR reports that citizens in counties that voted overwhelmingly for Trump are 3 times more likely to die. This is what happens to people who believe in lies and propaganda that does not care if they live or die. I so wish someone could follow up on Enid to see how many people in that town become infected and/or die. They probably think they are immune because they don’t live in big cities.

    On the other hand, it was foolish of the council to try to create mask mandates in such a red town. Had they used military language i.e. the invasion of the virus is spreading and could attack us. Your mask is a shield. The vaccine is a much stronger shield against the enemy. That sort of narrative might have convinced them to mask up and to get vaccinated.

    I wonder what sacrifices the prior generation in Enid made during WW II. They could have also drawn on that.

    Using the language of the “elites” will never reach red shirts. You have to use a patriotic narrative that make wearing a mask and taking the vaccine a heroic duty.

  18. Perhaps the fascist label is a stretch and perhaps not. Whatever we call it, it’s a threat to democracy carried out by propaganda. It’s divide and conquer. Keep them angry, keep them focused on the enemy, now get them organized. It’s the only way the new fascism, Authoritarian Capitalism, can get in power to stay in power.

    Perhaps unlike fascism, perhaps not, the goal is power to harvest the wealth produced by workers and keep the water fall going up. The few want it all. How else can they be regarded as American aristocrats?

    What better way to divide and conquer than culture wars. Point out to the aging Tea Party that they haven’t won yet. Organized a women’t auxiliary, Moms for Liberty. Send them to the streets and the meetings and stop civilization in its tracks. Tear it down.

    Power to the wealthy pseudo-aristocrats. China and Russia have led the way. Follow them.

  19. Ms. Red shirt is indeed the fool, just as I’m sure she gets her “news” from those who count on her being just that.
    Our “Personal choice” aquaintance, who flew in from Wisconsin while actively dealing with CoVid, is just as fooled as Ms. Crabtree.
    We got our SS letters, here in Florididia, but DeJoy still hangs on!
    Bill Henry makes some points and, misses well. I do not believe that Dr. Fauci will need to hide.
    That the red middle of the country is filled with similar fools is, sadly apparent.
    We are hosting tomorrow, and I may not get here, so “HAPPY NEW YEAR” to all.

  20. I’m with James, the dems are hopelessly disorganized. Is Todd correct in saying that’s because they are paid to be (disorganized?) Still waiting, SDNY. Soon it will be 1/6/2022.

  21. FYI, I received my SS benefit statement via USPS a few days ago. My monthly net benefit for 2022 actually INcreased by $80. Woot-woot!!! lol

  22. Not on topic, but: some of us did get SS letters in the mail as usual a week or two ago.

    Enid, OK: not surprising; could have happened in Avon or Carmel or Austin, or most IN places.

    And I don’t believe any doctors were forced to “vaccine” anyone resulting in covered up injuries. Critical thinking? Not. Blind gullible allegiance to the elites of the disinformation oligarchy? Maybe.

  23. Enid Oklahoma wants to return to the 50s. Any objections? I thought not.

    This theme seems prevalent in places left behind by the economy.

    Why do they want to change the places that didn’t choose to stay behind though?

  24. What is history say? Well, History tells us that The self-professed elite Used religion to subjugate many melatonin enhanced humans.

    To clear the consciences of those who were involved in the slave trade, they would imply that those of a darker complexion were cursed by God and we’re supposed to be subjugated. In Genesis 9:22 it brings out that the son of Ham, Canaan, Saw his grandfather’s nakedness which indicates in scripture that there was some sort of sexual perversion involved.

    The law at the time was extremely clear at Leviticus 18:6-19, You can read it for yourself as it’s quite lengthy.

    Those Christians manipulated scripture to make people believe that the darker races were descendants of Canaan. But the fact remains that the darker skin races according to scripture of course Were the offshoots of Put and kush, Hams other sons. And if you research it, Canaan’s Descendants the Canaanites and Amorites were definitely The precursors to Palestinians in that region. Put and Kush were precursors to Ethiopia and of course the Ethiopians.

    Of course that didn’t matter to the Christian church at the time, basically they were just trying to alleviate a bad conscience. Trying to make sure individuals were not discouraged concerning the slave trade. They just wanted them to believe they were doing God’s work enforcing the curse.

    This manipulation didn’t Stop during the Renaissance or before for that matter. It continued on all the way up until the present day as you can see by the article that Sheila posted today. The Germans use this very issue with the German Protestant Church, to demonize those who were not of the Aryan race supposedly. Of course the original Aryans We’re from India, so I don’t understand how they could have been Caucasian.

    So, We can see how predictions can be fairly accurate, because history is always cyclical, and if something works Even if it’s untruthful will stay in the toolbox so to speak. Too bad folks are too stupid or too lazy to research their own adopted prejudices and find out the actual origins!

    It’s too bad, Because individuals who have knowledge of scripture, who research Scriptures history to find and verify what’s being taught in the churches, Can dismantle the woman’s (Melissa Crabtree) arguments that are listed in Sheila’s article. But, as stupid as this woman is and as manipulative as she is, The other side of the pendulum swing, isn’t much brighter. If you want to refute an enemy so to speak or refute disinformation, you have to have the knowledge to do it. If you don’t want the knowledge, then don’t complain about the outcome of that disinformation.

    So here we go again, from Roman Emperor Constantine and his 325 AD Nicene Council hijacking of Christianity, to the Crusades, to the Holy Roman Church, to Adolf Hitler and to The illustrious Billy Graham and his ilk, It continues on and on and on, constantly repeating itself, And everybody just naws on their fingernails.

    This really harkens back and, has been explained well, When Daniel Wrote his book. Read Daniel the second chapter, and notice what he Explained about the immense image and the world powers that follow his (Nebuchadnezzar) It’s quite interesting and enlightening. Because there will be a time when history will not repeat itself.

  25. Growing up in Abilene of West Texas, I have visited Enid (60’s) a few times, mostly for high school music festivals and competition. That doesn’t give me any more liberty to judge others in Enid than any of you on this blog. However, it seems ironic that the story we are discussing today is about people whose apparent values are rooted in evangelical beliefs … that is that the Scripture is infallible … when sowing discord is one of the great cardinal sins chronicled in both the Old and New Testament (Galatians, Proverbs, John, James). The Red Shirts just might take a cue from “the men of Ephraim” in Proverbs before they destroy Enid. I love the hunt for truth while commiserating with pre-natal ordained evangelicals. 😊

  26. @ Smekens You wrote: So, let me ask all you educated people, why do you trust Big Pharma and the Government with vaccines? 😉

    Todd, I rely on the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) for my primary source of verification on medical efficacy of current vaccines. I am not a medical professional, a scientist or pharmacist. My interest in reading peer review medical research began around 2001 when I initiated new discussion with physician researchers at IU Medical School (Regenstrief Institute) on breaking ground findings for proven practices that prevent diabetes. I initiated the first community based strategy for diabetes prevention that qualified the YMCA as a accountable care organization (ACO) recognized by the National Institute of Health. Later, I learned as well read, that people with advanced diabetes have compromised immune systems that make them especially vulnerable to chronic disease and contagious epidemics. Therefore, I keep my subscription to NEJM to track progress and advancement of medical science, including proven medical efficacy of NIH approved vaccines. So Todd … enlighten me as to your source(s) to caste doubt on the medical efficacy of vaccines?

  27. James. I agree to a point with your assessment. AgingGirl, I agree the whole Faux News echo chamber is at work here. Todd Smekens, we do indeeed have a “Heath Care Industry” vs a health care system, but I will have to disagree that it is all controlled by the pharmaceutical companies. I suspect that insurance companies and some large hospital chains have as much lobbyist clout as the pharmaceutical companies.

    Heather Richardson Cox might have given the best long term view. We have a political party that after the end of the cold war found more success in attacking the opposition, to the point of hurting their own supporters, and hurting the country, with the cold political calculation that sabotage is the way to power. Promoting disbelief in the traditional news sources, anti-vax, anti-tax, anti-government, anti-mask, and continued culture wars are all part of this seemingly very effective strategy.

  28. You won’t get any peer-reviewed articles from Todd. He’s halfway down the rabbit hole.
    Same with the Bible Bangers who think ranting about Fake Christians makes them superior intellects. The Bable wasn’t peer-reviewed.
    On topic, the Right follows the same organizing playbook as the ’60s left, but better funded. Soon, the Right will so obviously overshoot that they’ll die off.

  29. Wow Ormond,
    That’s pretty sad! I see you reverted to the I’m rubber you’re glue argument? Intellect is not going to get very far with that now is it? I would venture to say that you cannot measure up to those who you criticize! Todd has some very thoughtful points, might not always agree with them, but that says something about his character. As far as myself, I don’t have anything to prove to anybody. I say what I say and I believe what I believe. I guarantee you an individual such as yourself will never ever make my thought process change. Stay self-reliant Ormond, I wish you well in your endeavors. Just beware of becoming like those who you claim to despise.

  30. What is so sad is that the scientific evidence about just about everything is being questioned,which is what science is all about ,provided who is doing the questioning.When I was at an original meeting by Marshal,on his way to proving that duodenal ulcers were caused by a bacteria! The evidence was correct,thus ending two hundred years of useless debilitating surgery,and sometimes death! Get it? Nobel Prize stuff!

Comments are closed.