The Congressional aide who went berserk on the House floor during the vote to end the government shutdown was yelling about Freemasons. Do any of you wonder, like me, whether she also wanted to yell out some antisemitic insanity, but didn't have the guts because she suffers from paranoid delusions along the lines of "the Jews control the media and pull the strings of politics -- along with their good friends the Masons of course, and who knows how many Masons are crypto-Jews," yada yada yada? Raving anti-Masonic paranoia does often go along with antisemitism, and anti-catholicism, and anti- a lot of other ethnic and cultural groups. It's amazing that such idiocy still exists to such an extent that a congressional aide could be possessed of it.
Maybe exactly the same kinds of prejudice were just as amazing to many of the Founding Fathers. (Even the ones who weren't Freemasons.) Progress and enlightenment happen, but not to everyone. How old was I when I heard about Freemasons for the very first time? younger than when I first encountered anti-Masonic paranoia, that much is certain. Who knows how much creedence I might've given some raving fool like that Congressional aide, if she were the very first person I'd heard mention Masons?
But no. I lucked out, tolerance and opposition to prejudice were instilled in me from the cradle onwards. I was fortunate in that regard in my parents and the xenophilic, pro-civil-rights, anti-fear-of-the-unknown-or-exotic culture to which they belong. Messages like the one brought by that crazy Congressional aide never had a chance with me.