Feeling Afraid

The mother of invention has forced my hand. This weekʼs been too busy to believe, so hereʼs a post that I have been sitting on for months, trying to get everything right to build up to it instead of just popping it out like this. But I havenʼt even actually been on the computer except for five or ten minutes all week, so hereʼs the long-repressed post. (And inappropriately for the post, the Right has been quiet of late, thankfully. Even the Gun Nuts Protest on April 19 was pretty much a fizzle — rightfully so as the true second amendment supporters are not and should not be loons).

I wrote this back in January (can you spot the paragraph I added recently when I decided to go ahead and post it?), and I find that although I vented at the start of this month to celebrate April Foolʼs Day, I still feel very uncomfortable about the insane falsehoods and distortions radiating from the Uptight Right/Fox News. In reality, it feels that the voices have softened, as Glen Beck tries to sound sage preaching his Cato Budget (yeah, Loon Clown, toss a Roman allusion on everything to make it seem rational) for instance, but the goosestepping still echoes under those pseudo-reasonable words. And I feel afraid…

So stripped of gaudy images today, stark to my original intent, letʼs step back into what could have been a very early post from me for this Friday that ends cruel April.

Politically, I’m a lightweight, which is one reason I try not to let myself get suckered into intense political arguments (the other reason’s because I get angry — as some of us know now). I have permitted myself to reveal some political attitudes already here. However, the only clear position I have taken is that Fox News shouldn’t lie, shouldn’t propagandize, shouldn’t slant and even distort the news (as unquestionably they do); I guess I have also revealed that I don’t much care for the rabid and degenerate rabble-rousing of some of the Fox “pundits.”

Honestly, that would be it: I would promote genuine journalism (the more difficult and challenging choice) over propaganda (clearly easier and available to even the most inadequate minds). Please give me facts rather than lies and evidence over mere opinion.

The fourth estate is valuable in our society not as entertainment (we’ve got multitudinous forms of that, if it entertains you, in spades from all kinds of sources all around us; we don’t need our news reporters to focus primarily on “entertaining” us when it’s actually their job to inform us). Nor should journalism be covertly or overtly biased by agendae (whether political, economic, personal or whatever): good journalism is even-handed, unbiased and fair. Good reporting has to be neutral to be trustworthy, and valid reporters must be wiling to question even their own prejudices, beliefs and preconceptions because some powerful organization or individual is certain to abuse its/his/her power or influence for selfish reasons or gain (witness the self-serving and false “birther” nonissue promoted relentlessly merely to denigrate the current President and raise further to prominence the tinny voices in question, or the nontransparent ”transparency” of some current government disinformation). Good journalists, standing aside from their personal beliefs, should expose the truth of any situation, however mundane, however arcane, however heated by preconceptions and rash judgments.

As for punditry (oh, there’s a word abused and tormented in its adoption into English: our contemporary opinion-mongers are so extremely far from “wise men”), my issue is fear. I am afraid of the direction opinion-expressers in the media are going. Besides espousing nonsense, these blowhards are seeking self-promotion and power. And succeeding. I wish there were voices from the left (besides, perhaps, the wit of Al Franken, who has certainly found power for himself, now legitimized as a Senator) for exemplars, but the hot air is all blowing from the Right, perhaps because those powers-that-would-be feel deprived after the last election, perhaps because of all the corporate money funding such extremism to duck and cover in the face of new government scrutiny (viz. FreedomWorks and their shenanigans).

What we hear today is far too close to the Nazi preachments of the early Thirties (newly minted family values, xenophobic alien prejudice, weak-government name-calling, economic panic-mongering, empty sloganeering…) for comfort. And like the Nazis it’s all New Right rhetoric driving fear and panic deep in the hearts of the followers of such speakers, harshening the divisions of opinion across the country and militarizing the loyalists. Worse is the cult of personality being cultivated by these potential Leaders. Hitler was a funny nut to party outsiders early on, too. Has Glen Beck been taking lessons there?

I know: it’s become a classic of modern discourse to resort to the “Nazi comparison.” The Right has been trying that same debate stunt about their bugaboo of paternalistic big government (which is just what? I wonder). But I begin to feel genuinely afraid, especially as the “opinions” on the Right become ever more strident, ever more fierce, ever more crazed (come on, Teapotties and Beckazoids — Nazis and other fascists were never on the Left) and paranoid (which is, I know, how I am feeling right now—paranoid). But I am not just name-calling here: I dread a too-close historical parallel or repetition.

After all, the great weakness of the Right is its easy inclusion of the rabid, racist and wrong American neo-Nazis within their ranks (including some of those armed loonies at FreedomWorks’ intentionally unruly and therefore media-friendly August ’09 town-meeting explosions). The Left of the Thirties, Forties, Fifties and Sixties had the same problem with the Soviet Union, and the just and honest on the Left should have repudiated communist tyranny, in particular Stalin and his government’s incredible genocide (although too many did not and served blindly or knowingly the Soviet cause). In my youth the New Left did better about such terrors as Mao’s Red Guard and the Khmer Rouge, but frequently not much better. If the Right wants my respect today, they must shed the insane Loonie-Racist Right fringe. But they don’t. Right pundits still defend the gun nuts of the so-called “militia movement” (so transparently ignorant of the second amendment’s vital adjective—“well regulated” and the actual definition of a militia), including namby-pamby drivel about “the forces that drove Timothy McVeigh” to his evidently (to them) “partially justified” act of mass homicide, and the dupes and slaves of that Branch Davidian Fuhrer of Waco. The wacked out crazies preaching hate should not be tolerated or excused, Foxies — not if you donʼt want to be them.

Now the Righties intentionally use gun-language and images (viz. Ms. Palinʼs website) to sow fear in the hearts of their countrymen (thanks, for the quotable allusion, Gandhi) and make themselves feel assertive and strong (I guess) just like their fascist ancestors in Europe during the Thirties. It all just makes me think of the evident godfather of our American Right, the man with the mustache that our Tightie Righties would like to paint on inoffensive do-gooders like our President. Talk about change in terms of guns, and I hear the Stormtroopers raging.

Not being Jewish or (perhaps more relevant for America today) Hispanic or gay or “socialist” or part of other groups being vilified from the Right, I shouldn’t feel this dread, maybe. But I keep thinking of Martin Niemöller’s verse:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out.

I am old and my career is behind me. Perhaps it is my place to speak out, having somewhat less to fear than the younger folks who have full lives ahead…

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

2 thoughts on “Feeling Afraid

  1. Mr.B just switch right to left and I would agree with you. The conservatives love the Jews…I believe it’s Obama that doesn’t like Israel! If Fox spewed as many lies as you think wouldn’t the mainstream media or Dems sue them for Libel? Maybe it’s a vast right wing conspiracy!

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