Thursday, July 14, 2016

America: Borne in Blood

If the Abolitionist Movement of  the1800s and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s had been subjected to the same kind of political spin doctoring as BLM, slavery would never have been abolished and black people in America would still be fighting to sit in the same trains, at the same lunch counters, and even on the same toilets, as white people today. Instead, political spin doctors are working everywhere in the name of "patriotism" to accomplish through social media what COINTELPRO failed to accomplish through subterfuge, by subverting all those who seek equality by accusing them of using the color of their skin to seek a special status.

Doing so is like calling Martin Luther King a terrorist, Muhammad Ali a communist, and Rosa Parks an anarchist. But worst of all, it is to judge a movement not by the content of its claims, but by something as superficial as a name. And in so doing, demand that those we treat as separate necessarily see everyone as equal, even though Brown vs Broad of Education established that separate is always unequal. Indeed, only in a Orwellian world can we believe that a cry for equality is simply the complaint of those who think they should be treated better than everyone else. (And by so believing, dupe ourselves into believing that those who see the rest of us as inferior, will treat us as their equals as well.)Or as some have already put it, it is to "make America great again" by making us hate each other, more than we ever have before.

Thanks to people like Edward Bernays, the father of modern political spin doctors everywhere, the power of the video lens to narrow our vision is not limited to just our sense of sight, but far more so, our sense of perspective. This is done more by what we are not told than by what we are; by limiting not only the range of ideas discussed in any interview or debate, but by carefully selecting the debaters and the people being interviewed. That’s why a country so divided on every issue, including race, can so unanimously agree that Hilary Clinton may be just as bad for America as Donald Trump. It’s also why we tend to see people like Larry Elder discussing “racism in America,” instead of Tim Wise.

By limiting the conversation about the shootings of Anton Sterling and Philando Castile to simply questions related to police brutality, we deliberately exclude any discussion of the broader context and deeper issues related to racism in America. By doing so, political opportunists are able to rely on “straw man” arguments to attack cartoon caricatures of BLM. Like Leland Gaunt from Stephen King’s book, Needful Things – the impish antique shop owner who masterfully manipulated people’s fear and hate by giving them exactly what they wanted - such opportunists exploit the politically charged issue of race in America with about as much objective balance as Mein Kampf; and for the same reasons as  Leland Gaunt. 

This masterful manipulation of mass perception is why so many people saw the election of Barack Obama as the beginning of a new chapter for race relations in America. But with the disproportionate number of black people who are thrown into prisons for mostly non-violent offenses every year, even though studies show that whites tend to use hard drugs more than blacks, the ‘new chapter’ is simply a new spin on an old story. Such manipulation is accomplished by presenting discussions that appear to cover the whole range of issues related to race, while only ever actually discussing a very narrow range of such issues.

 Like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, the audience is directed to focus only on what is being discussed, and not on the much larger universe of things that are all directly related to the issue, but are deliberately being ignored. And in this way, the complex reality of race and racism in America is whitewashed with simple accusatory conversation, buttressed with statistics and carefully picked examples, and the hard work of sharing responsibility and improving our lot is replaced with the easier and far more righteous exercise of assigning blame. And as a result, things only ever go from bad to worse. 

In this way, use of “the noble lie” and the “necessary illusion”- as Plato and Reinhold Niebuhr put it respectively – allows “the man behind the curtain” (or in this case, the camera) to shape public opinion by focusing our attention only on what he wants us to see. And like a wizard, he seduces us with the apple of a story that conforms exactly to the very fears we have harbored all along; much to his benefit, even if it’s to the detriment of everyone else. And it is.

But in the words of a Kenyon, Minnesota police chief, who admonished his officers with advice for us all, "if we give into fear, violence, propaganda, etc. we will not be part of the solution." In fact, the very disintegration of society along racial fault lines that we are experiencing in America today is exactly what Charles Manson was trying to start in 1969, by brutally murdering  the Tates and LiBiancas and then writing the word "PIG" on the wall, with their blood.

Indeed, that is not the kind of "family" that any of us should want to be a part of. After all, such megalomania is always the impetus of anyone who is simply trying to build their career and make a name for them self, by preaching the gospel of blame.

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