By now you've probably read about the kerfuffle in Pagosa Springs. Bob Kearns, the president of the Loma Linda HOA, got his shorts in a knot over the peace-sign-shaped wreath a couple hung outside their house, because, variously, some other residents of the neighborhood have kids serving in Iraq, or he thinks it might actually be a satanic symbol, or
"Somebody could put up signs that say, 'Drop bombs on Iraq.' If you let one go up, you have to let them all go up."
My mom lives outside Pagosa Springs. It was a sleepy, funky little live-and-let-live community of 5,000 until rich Texans discovered it. In the last ten years the surrounding area has mushroomed to well over 15,000 people as formerly open parklands and Ponderosa pine forests have been bladed for subdivisions. The traffic flowing out of these and backing up at the new stoplights consists in large part of Suburbans bearing Texas plates, Jesus fish, and magnetic yellow ribbons.
That's a little context, although I have no idea how long Mr. Kearns has lived in the area or if he, too, is a transplanted Texan. Regardless of his background or that of the other residents who complained about the wreath, it's a perfect microcosm of... of what? What are the words? Is "conservatism and superstitious Christianism run rampant" too strong a phrase? The mindset that sees the message Peace as an affront, that somehow twists a generic wish for world peace into a negative message specifically aimed at the Americans serving in Iraq, that utterly fails to recognize within it the wish that all those kids come home safely, seems to me completely divorced from reality. It strikes me as paranoia.
And, of course, fast on the heels of that uber-nationalistic sentiment (professing peace equals opposition to war equals opposition to America's forces) comes trip-trapping along its faithful fear-based religious companion.
"The peace sign has a lot of negativity associated with it," association president Bob Kearns told The Durango Herald in justifying the order. "It's also an anti-Christ sign."Some would probably argue that "superstitious Christian" is redundant, but I use it here for that special breed that doesn't see a benevolent God everywhere and in everyone so much as they see Satan lurking in every innocuous word and symbol, waiting to pounce on the unaware and haul them straight off to the lake of fire. The Christianist and the nationalist go hand in hand. Nothing like seeing enemies under every rock and deception in every sign to forge an identity and compel obedience to the ideology. And yes, well all know where that road goes.
Anyway. I love Pagosa, the town itself, and am delighted that it's doing its level best to distance itself from the inanity of one of the outlying HOAs.
Monday morning, Pagosa Springs town-hall officials received an e-mail that asked, "What kind of little Nazis does your town grow?"
That prompted town manager Mark Garcia to change the southwestern Colorado town's website, clarifying that the town doesn't have any authority over the homeowners association and that the subdivision isn't even within the town's limits.
"The town wholly supports their peace-sign display and also wishes for peace on earth," the message concludes.
Time to call Mom to ask if she's put her own peace wreath up yet. Have you?