No one’s afraid of Virginia’s wolf
Two things happened simultaneously this weekend. I listened to the reports (and read them in the NYT) of Europeans who are now worried about what is happening in the US, given a barrage of frightening warnings that have been leaked to the world insidiously for months. On the heels of that recognition, I had a disconcerting conversation with a fellow blogger from outside the country, who is sincerely fearful of impending doom, based largely on this same steady stream of dire threats emanating from the alternate or parallel broadcasters who are determined to terrorize us domestically.
It is bad enough that Americans are confused by what has been going on here socially and politically. When this sludge seeps across the pond and starts to poison Europe (or closer yet, our neighbor to the north), it has become a serious matter indeed.
This is for my non-American friends in particular. Please, let’s take a time out and have a moment of calm sanity, if this is possible. Let me explain.
There has been a deliberate campaign in this country by a very small segment of American society, to destroy the fabric of interrelationships here at every level and make an opening for a takeover by this small group. It has largely been engineered, in the past, behind the scenes. In my estimation, it started with Barry Goldwater some 60 or so years ago and right now, all those chickens are coming home to roost.
A group of extreme southerners, many in what was then the Democratic party, but also including Goldwater Republicans, decided that only a certain type of economy and a certain type of white man had any governing legitimacy, mostly as it applies to control of economic resources. Everything and everyone else was to be discredited, driven out or outright eliminated. Their main modus operandi would be “divide and conquer”. The best way to achieve that was to instill fear and loathing of the undesired interfering individuals or groups of individuals, to demonize them, to paint them in an evil light and to prevent them from taking office or having access to vital resources.
This group enlisted the help, not of creators, but haters. They found a ready-made group in the Ku Klux Klan and the John Birch society. But given that the number of people in those two groups was too small, they had to draw other groups into the fold. They pandered to the ‘moral majority’, mostly evangelical, conservative, white, protestant southern men by pretending to care about social issues like abortion and amnesty. This substantially increased their numbers, but they were still not satisfied, as the majority of Americans, not belonging to those special interest groups, could still exercise their constitutional rights to a voice, and vote down the puppets they wanted to put in office to do their bidding and carry out their agenda.
They were unable to bend Richard Nixon fully to their will and so, saw to his downfall. They had to wait, while the Nixon debacle cycled out of the public conscience. They found the perfect standard-bearer for their extreme agenda in Ronald Reagan, an actor, who looked and spoke, and thought he was the embodiment of their philosophy. Reagan indeed caused a revolution and brought back the idea that public good meant nothing, government was corrupt, dysfunctional and dispensable, and that private interests, i.e., those with money were the legitimate and final authorities. The Reagan administration began in earnest to unravel all the civilized social gains that had been enacted for the previous sixty years, starting with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and both JFK and Johnson’s Great Societies. Reagan did this by promising goodies to the powerful. He borrowed from the future and handed out candy, he espoused lowering taxes and raised them to fund his pet projects, like Star Wars. His philosophical heir Newt Gingrich advanced the ball toward the goal line — throwing a monkey wrench into the government and making sure that Bill Clinton’s efforts to put America on a permanent path to solvency and individual, as well as public prosperity, were permanently derailed. Those efforts backfired temporarily when the public rose up and rejected Gingrich’s largely delusional ideas about economy and public life.
But, the damage had already been done. The far right wing, buttressed now by the defecting Dixiecrats, who as full-blown bigots and racists, could not stay in a party that had enacted Civil Rights laws, joined forces with the moral majority and the John Birch society. They now had a significant cohort with which to drive forward their ideological and extremist agenda.
What distinguished all three groups was not what they were for, but what they were against. They might tell you they were for smaller government and lower taxes, but if you look at their records, they raised taxes and spent money like drunken sailors. The US deficit always expands under Republican Presidents. Because of G. W. Bush a trillion dollars is gone through the Medicare Part D drug give away to Big Pharma, trillions wasted on baseless wars in the Middle East, more trillions on tax cuts to his fellow billionaires, and he allowed his special cronies on Wall Street to gamble with our money, tank the economy and take another few trillion with it. He then neatly stepped aside and let Barack Obama take the full force of the cannon ball that was hurtling toward the next President and the American economy. The Republicans are still blaming Obama for a deficit that they themselves spawned. He also set in motion the very spying programs that the world is blaming the Obama administration for right now.
Cleverly, all the while, that extremist group have gotten a significant portion of the American people to go along with all their machinations. How? For one thing by lying deliberately, blatantly, and constantly about who was causing the damage. This conservative-in-name-only party has on a daily basis, for the past twenty-five to thirty years put out a stream of deliberate falsehoods and slander to deflect attention away from their hidden agenda — diverting the US Treasury to a small, powerful group of men — by concocting incendiary and highly defamatory fictional stories about their opponents. They also played on the fact that older, white, males (not to let women off the hook completely but only comparatively) have a deep loathing and disrespect for the first African-American President. These men simply think people of color are inferior, though they try to disguise it.
Still, Republicans represent at most only 40% of the American population. Of their number, about half now belong to the latest incarnation of the Dixiecrat/moral majority/John Birch/Ku Klux Klan originators of this movement: the so-called “grass-roots” Tea Party. Far from a movement of the common people, the Tea Party is actually a fabrication of big money interest groups backed by megabillionaires like the Koch Brothers. These rich and powerful groups were able to buy certain current and former elected leaders and lobbyists to bring about a complete transformation in the American public’s perception of government, progressives, liberalism and the Democratic party.
How have they achieved this? By quietly electing Republican state legislatures and governors, who would then re-write the districting laws to make each district either pure blue/Democratic, or pure red/Republican, with an emphasis on and in favor of the latter. Once done, these districts were ‘safe’ from intrusion by the other party, locked in by one or the other interest group.
They also bought media and got an almost stranglehold on them in radio, newspapers, private television, and a string of ad hoc websites. AM radio is dominated by far right wing extremist voices, and is listened to overwhelmingly by white, rural, Americans all over the country. Men and women who spend hours every day listening to AM radio. They created Fox “news”, an opinion shaping device that takes any developments in the world and reinterprets them through a far right wing prism and then broadcasts that re-imagined “information”, which is really opinion and fantasy, 24 hours a day.
Both on radio and television, the talking heads make fortunes, giving their audience cooked “news” and “information”. Facts were not only not an issue, they were unwelcome. As is science.
One reason this nefarious movement was able to take hold is that money can now be funneled from secretly-funded interest groups from anywhere in the world, to any local town or state anywhere in this country, thanks to a right-wing dominated Supreme Court ruling in favor of corporations acting as persons, known infamously as Citizens United. Add to that the alienation and fear, and economic anxiety that their constituents, readers, viewers, and listeners have been feeling; the mounting pressure of flat wages; outsourcing of middle class jobs to other countries; and the ascendance of non-white or western peoples that seem alien to this group; and you have a fertile ground for paranoia, rage, hatred, and extreme violence that now characterizes their movement.
These people have stoked the fires of hate against people of color, immigrants, the poor, the elderly, the handicapped, children, gays and lesbians, women and liberals. Even moderates and centrists (which is actually, the real majority of Americans, not center-left or center-right, just center) are increasingly their targets, subject to a never ending stream of lies and absurd predictions.
Despite this insidious campaign, those of us who live here in the US have some sense of what is real and what is fantasy. We know, for example, that the big banks are not about to stop allowing cash withdrawals at ATMs as has been falsely reported by this radical and diabolical faction this week. The Federal government is not about to round up people and intern them in underground FEMA camps as was also warned by this group through one of their most duplicitous and reprehensible toadies, Glenn Beck. The Affordable Care Act is not a shell for collecting private information from the American people to be used to poison and kill them as is now circulating in places like the Drudge Report.
When the lies these people have told have so infiltrated the minds of a small fraction of gullible and intellectually challenged Americans, that they can cheer as the world’s economy teeters on the brink of collapse, it is bad enough.
But when things have gotten so out of hand that people in Europe believe the Becks, Limbaugh’s, Rios’s, Savitch’s, Ingrahams, Bruce’s, Hannity’s, and Levin’s of the media world, something is going very wrong.
To anyone who lives outside the US, who might be drawn in by the lies of these unscrupulous, immoral spokespeople: it would be wise to read only those long established and respected newspapers that for the most part have a history of fact-based reporting and good faith. The outlets that have promulgated the disinformation, lies, and distortions that seem to have scrambled almost all our communications channels with accelerating force and fury, giving rise to the lunacy of the past year, and promising to rear its ugliness again in January, are not honest brokers and should be avoided altogether. Do not look for the truth from these media, even if they shroud themselves in the wolf’s cloth of “grass-roots” or “mouthpiece for the people”. At least consult the major news outlets that could not maintain their stature if they were to descend into the pollution of Fox News and Rupert Murdoch and their ilk.
Watch CNN, CBS, read the New York Times, Chicago Sun Times, and the Wall Street Journal. Cross check the facts. Look into the backgrounds of the people you are reading or listening to. Know who Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity are. What are their qualifications for the stories they are promoting? What is their agenda? Please do not just imbibe their swill indiscriminately. I don’t cite their equivalents on the so-called ‘left’ because there are few to none and this is the trap of false equivalency.
And look at the temperament of the people you read or listen to. Are they angry, hateful, accusatory, condemnatory, racist, misogynist, delighting in other’s suffering? Do they want to deny help to those who legitimately need it? Ask yourself why. Do good people do these things? Would Jesus behave this way? Read James 3:16 and 3:17 and then think about in which category these ‘reporters’ would fall.
Do one more thing. Watch the upcoming election for Governor in the state of Virginia. The Democrats are running a rather controversial Washington insider named Terry McAuliffe. The Republican candidate is a Tea Party darling, Ken Cuccinelli. Right now McAuliffe is beating Cuccinelli by 10 points in an off-election year when low voter turnout usually favors conservatives. What does that tell you about the viability of the Tea Party’s extreme agenda, about the truth or falsity of these fanatics on the right and their media mouthpieces? If Terry McAuliffe can win in a southern state like Virginia, the Tea Party is losing its grip here, thankfully. It is a very promising sign.
Please do not believe everything you hear or read about America. Be discriminating. Don’t believe fantasies. Even Eric Snowden’s allegations are just that: theory not necessarily fact. This is not the time for childlike trust. We need the strong and the smart people of the world to stand with us against these destructive people and forces, as their negative impact is sabotaging us all.
Images: mediamatters.org, crooksandliars.com, infiniteunknown.net, middleclasshell.net,