However, that is me reading McCarthy in the context of a British person, living in the United Kingdom. What I do not bring to my reading is the specifically American context, and I recognise that this is important. This was brought home to me today by an article in The Guardian about the religious right in the US. They have taken control of the Education Board in Texas and are in the process of re-writing the school curriculum to reflect their views of history. These views, of course, are largely compatible with the notion of American exceptionalism. The article notes:
The board is to vote on a sweeping purge of alleged liberal bias in Texas school textbooks in favour of what [Cynthia] Dunbar says really matters: a belief in America as a nation chosen by God as a beacon to the world, and free enterprise as the cornerstone of liberty and democracy.
Cynthia Dunbar is a lawyer, and a leading activist in the conservative movement. She makes this chilling observation:
"We are fighting for our children's education and our nation's future," Dunbar said. "In Texas we have certain statutory obligations to promote patriotism and to promote the free enterprise system. There seems to have been a move away from a patriotic ideology. There seems to be a denial that this was a nation founded under God. We had to go back and make some corrections."
Naturally, running alongside this agenda is the promulgation in schools of creationism. The article quotes Dunbar:
"The only accurate method of ascertaining the intent of the founding fathers at the time of our government's inception comes from a biblical worldview," she wrote. "We as a nation were intended by God to be a light set on a hill to serve as a beacon of hope and Christian charity to a lost and dying world."
I think it is instructive to read McCarthy in the light of these reactionary developments. Whatever McCarthy's religious beliefs (and they depend on what day it is, according to his Oprah interview), his work is a clear renunciation of the sort of stunted claptrap being espoused by the religious right in Texas. John Cant's interpretation may be more accurate - and more important - than I realised.