Is, in fact.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Propaganda + Sheep =
Is, in fact.
The most patriotic among us like to believe in American exceptionalism, whatever that is. We're number one. We lead the world in... well, for sure basketball, I guess. How different are we, how unlike those other countries. How impossible it would be for us to become... a mob.
Except that the people who think they are seeing fascism where it most certainly is not, are finally being shorn of their grass-fed sheep's clothing to reveal (were they able to see it) the real rabble underneath. This "mosque" thing: this horrible, debasing, shallow, hateful, despicable mosque thing. It's peeling away the remaining layer of the thinnest veneer, the fantasy that Americans are too civilized, too evolved (if they believed in evolution, that is) to be propagandized, to march in lockstep, succumbing to manipulation. To raise their arms and shout and scream and threaten people of a certain religion (and let's not forget gays), citizens or not; to be led by power-mongering demagogues into the streets. But now, finally, we can no longer lay claim: we're as bad as any gang witnessed by history; we're them; we're willingly led across the divide. Easily, formulaically; frailties exploited in the most demeaning of clichés. Victimhood and scapegoats. Banal, unoriginal stuff. Embarrassing.
How many times, how many ways can it be said: the "mosque" is a community center (containing a prayer room; and there's already an actual mosque one block away); it's not at the "hallowed ground" (strip clubs and pizza joints are closer to the hallowed grounds [good name for a coffee shop, by the way: "Hallowed Grounds"]); it's run by a Sufi Muslim who espouses the opposite of radicalism. Its presence -- anywhere, but especially there -- is a statement of who they aren't, and who we are. It flies in the face of Wahabbism, it represents hope for reconciliation. And it's a building in NYC!! Across the country people have been convinced they should be intensely interested in -- offended! outraged! attending rallies! waving signs! -- a decision by a local planning board. In another city. Y'know: the one that Sarah Palin thinks isn't even America.
Boy, how I'd have loved to have had that kind of support when my neighbor decided to cut down my tree.
It's as obvious as a burning bush that Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and the rest of the RWS™ don't really care what it is. What they care about is finding a cause -- any cause -- with which they can stir the masses into a rage. It's all they have, it's what they do. And they did, so easily as to eliminate any shred of doubt over what we've become. Mindless, people are spitting venom over a completely innocuous situation -- or what would have been, had the demagogues not seen an opportunity. If a concerted effort by cynical politicians (or, in the case of Sarah, professional tweeters) and a nationwide propaganda machine can so easily convince people they should be really really angry over such a meaningless issue (to the extent that it's not meaningless, they've got it exactly wrong), what does it say about how we'll behave when the real crises come to a head? Who will be next, how will the rage be felt?
It's only a matter of time. And look how shamefully easy it has been, how similar to Germany in the thirties: appealing to a sense of victimization, picking scapegoats, abetted by deliberate propagandists, leaders whip up anger ever more shrilly to ever more receptive and grateful audiences: yes, yes, we're being heard; our victimhood, our entitlement, our suffering at the hands of others. It's unfair. We're better than they are. They're taking away our freedoms. They hate our country, they hate us. They are undeserving, they don't belong here. They threaten our very way of life. They do.