I alternate between amusement and horror when I read about the state of the union known as the United States. The Orwellian vibes blending with Eisenhower era McCarthyism makes good Daily Show and Colbert Report fodder, but sometimes it’s too real to be funny.
Glenn Beck is case in point. Despite advertisers denouncing him in droves via removal of their money, Fox News refuses to pull the platform rug that is his op-ed show from their schedule. I only catch the YouTube clips here and there, but what he is doing looks like the creation of a blacklist based on a very narrow interpretation of what it means to be a loyal American. And when the POTUS is willing to sacrifice someone in his cabinet based on ramped up hysteria over non-issues created by a talking head of questionable intelligence and sanity, can Senate hearings on Un-Americanism be all that far behind?
Parents kept their children home to avoid having them listen to a educational pep talk by President Obama last Tuesday. You can read the speech here if you missed it. There was talk of brainwashing and socialism – which far too many adults in the U.S. believe is synonymous with communism thanks to the hysterical right wing constituency and their media shills. There were even teachers, which should scare people, protesting and calling in with “blue flu”.
And I have to ask, what is going on down there in the lower 48?
The economy bottoms naturally as a consequence of years of excess and stupidity and without their credit cards to opiate themselves and meaningless jobs and shopping to distract them, people’s brains implode, leaving them vulnerable to media manipulated nonsense? If that is the case, then we are a soft, spineless generation who deserve to be scoffed at by our elders who endured world war and great economic depression among other things without becoming nearly as stupid as quickly. They managed to get over their bouts with political extremism, pull up ye olde boot straps and help themselves and their neighbors. We cower in front of Fox News and start scanning our suburbs for communists? We gather at town halls like a French mob, foaming at the mouth over government benefits for the disabled and sick and scream for the head of Obama’s Green Czar? Actual French people who protest on behalf of their own jobs and force their government to serve them as they were elected to do must be falling down in fits of giggles watching us.
Things are not wonderful. I’ll agree with that. Times are hard and will likely become more difficult for a lot more people before things turn around, and it’s even possible that life will never return to the cushy heights that defined the middle-class American Dream. But blacklists? Really? Secession? Seriously? White supremacy? Suspect thy neighbor? Disrespect for the aged, the sick and the poor? Talking heads as arbiters of right and wrong?
Sure, it makes life easier for the Keith Olbermann’s and Glenn Beck’s of the world but shouldn’t we be allowed the facts without commentary? Just the facts, and let me decide what I think without left or right leaning taint because when Jon Stewart is the voice of common sense and reason where the media is concerned, we are in uncharted waters of scary, a place Christopher Columbus wouldn’t have sailed and he was greedy enough to have sailed just about anywhere regardless of the sea monsters drawn on the map.
When the President can’t give an innocuous beginning of the year pep talk to the youth of America without mama-drama, there is something far more wrong with the state of the union than high unemployment numbers and a disgruntled far right wing.
“And thus I clothe my naked villany
With odd old ends stol’n out of holy writ,
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.”
It’s time to start reading the news, reading widely – critically – and thinking for a change. Turn off the television. Step back out into the world. And use your brains rather than let them be co-opted by other people’s agendas.
Blacklists do not just happen to other people. Eventually it happens to everyone.