09 February, 2017

Letters from Trumplandia, 2: march on, cult/ure war!

...there can be no advancement of learning. Truth has been already spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message. - Umberto Eco, "Ur-Fascism"

Nevertheless, she persisted. - Mitch McConnell


I really don't blame people who insist that the media is to blame for how fractured the American landscape looks these days. There is a long and labored tradition of blaming the messenger for the message. There was a time when writers used pen names to protect themselves from retribution from the powerful for something they wrote. There's a reason for the existence of the phrase "Don't shoot the messenger."

The reason is this: most people like to shoot the messenger because they can't lay their hands who they are really upset at.

When people claim that the media is manipulating public opinion and manipulating "facts", what they don't want to face and what they don't want to accept is that it's not the media manipulating anything. Journalists are sharks. They go where the blood is. Corporations aren't and can't be ideological -- either liberal or conservative -- and continue to be corporations. Their first (and really only) prerogative is to make a profit. Ideology creates dogma. Dogma -- even a capitalist one -- eventually gets in the way of making a profit because you end up sacrificing profit for an idea. When you commit--  or refuse to commit to -- a story as a journalist you are making an ideological choice.

A good friend of mine recently defended her position that the media is manipulating cultural chaos by claiming that every story is opinion-based. To a point, I agree. All stories are told from the journalist's point of view; so, yes, in a sense, the news you watch, read, or scroll by is opinion. A good journalist understands his or her fallibility, though, and also understands that the purpose of media is not simply just to inform the public. With the fast flow of information in a digital age, simply communicating facts isn't enough. A journalist is a kind of storyteller, providing context that gives facts meaning.

But before you start complaining about the current state of media as if once upon a time our national media was objective and non-narrative, please do some research into the newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst.

If you appreciate a good movie, then please find Orson Welles' Citizen Kane -- a send up about a
Hearst-like character that so bothered the prototype that Hearst used his considerable influence to keep it from being played in movie theaters.

Scrubbed, sanitized history books and that sleepy mass communication course you may have taken in college will tell you we escaped the age of so-called "yellow journalism."

But anyone with a lick of common sense and an understanding of 21st century corporate media gets it.

If it bleeds, it leads. If it bleeds enough, news bleeds cash

It's not ideological. It's just business. And journalists, like teachers, garbage men, and ditch diggers, are exploited, abused, and spit out, too.

When 45 first announced his plan to run for President, I warned my colleagues and co-workers to take him seriously. He made his fortune -- real or on paper -- selling, first real estate and then himself. Someone with a more paranoid turn of mind might even look at the trajectory of his life and say that he had been preparing for it all along.

But I'll leave that bit of terror here and move on.

I'd read the reports of events at  rallies and seen that seething and misplaced anger being focused on reporters, on social justice activists, and on anyone who doesn't fit the mold the mid-20th century white male.

When I went the rally here in Louisville and witnessed the brazen threatening of journalists and their families, when I watched 45's supporters -- cheered on by a known white nationalist -- manhandle and abuse protesters, I knew I was watching more than politics run amok or some unwanted bastard mutation of the GOP.

I knew then I was seeing the beginning of the next wave.

The Nazis who did this added a racial slur that got the second picture banned from FB.
The wave of crimes against people of color and other minorities tied to post-election mania on the part of the Alt-Reich and its supporters was, for me, another indication of the next wave. That these crimes go more or less unanswered by the authorities is nothing short of criminal.

Convincing reasonable Americans that the media can't be trusted and that only the regime's sanctioned and vetted voiced can be trusted is a strategy straight out of the fascist playbook. The new wave's embrace of traditionalism at the expense of everything is another such strategy, which is best exemplified by his campaign slogan:

For my very well intended liberal friends who are hoping for a swing in the mid-term election or looking for hope in the 2020 presidential campaign, please keep in mind that not only has the new wave emboldened bigots and budding fascists, but has also gotten a foothold in the future of our educational system with the confirmation of anti-public education advocate Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. 

In other words, the very institutions we have counted on to perpetuate and grow democracy in the minds of future generations are at risk... perhaps at the greatest risk since the concept of public education for all took hold.*

Moreover, even the pretense of rational conversation has been sucked out of the governing process, with Kentucky's own Mitch McConnell (R-KY) silencing Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during Jeff Sessions'  confirmation hearing to be Attorney General when she tried to read aloud a letter written by Coretta Scott King criticizing Sessions' civil rights record.

This is the new wave. And since the GOP hasn't been able to silence or chastise the bastard Nazis the have given life and breath to, they are simply embracing it... because, down deep, the modern GOP has the same hate-filled, power hungry heart that the Alt-Reich does. As we decide how to move forward, please take heed and remember the lessons of our elders:

Concentrated power can be always wielded in the interest of the few and at the expense of the many. -- Lucy Parsons

Yours in the struggle, 

Bro. Mick
If you like what you're reading here, I have work for sale on my amazon author page:

*You can trace the spread of democracy, the increasing size and economic power of the middle class, and the rise of labor unions to the spread of literacy via accessible public education. Limit people's education and you limit their horizons.  
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