Friday, September 10, 2010

Understanding What’s Really Wrong with Our Country and Our World

These days, I’ve often heard it said that the problem with too many Americans who vote against their own interests is their stupidity, or their lack of formal education, or their reliance on corporate-engineered news sources.

How else can you explain the popularity of someone as intellectually counterfeit and ethically suspect as Glenn Beck in America?

The problem with those explanations is that there are plenty of constant counter examples that don’t hold out. There are plenty of people that might be considered to be “dumb as posts,” who still vote rationally in line with their own interests and the interests of the country as a whole in mind. I’m talking about some of the poor people in my old South Bronx neighborhood, many of whom never made it past 9th grade, yet still understand the importance of labor unions and the need for regulation in big business no matter what they read in the New York Post every single day on their train ride to work. Most of these folks can’t even explain the structure of our government or its history despite being native born Americans, yet they can still spot opportunistic bullshit when they hear it:

These so-called “stupid” uneducated people still somehow knew that anything coming from the Right against Healthcare Reform was going to be the kind of lying you only see go down when corporate profits are at stake.

Another problem with the explanations of ignorance, or misinformation is that the truth and the facts are being promoted constantly in the media despite what my fellow Liberals charge: Someone who watches Fox “News” exclusively still walks around the same world as everyone else and invariably sees other headlines they have to actively dismiss. The devoted Fox “News” watcher has to walk the Earth in a constant state of denial, preemptively disbelieving anything that doesn’t match up with Murdoch’s brand of propaganda and wait for new Fox “factoids” to counter reality when they get home and can watch Hannity or whomever. There were for example far more years (decades in fact) of information on the dangers of global climate change, pollution, the importance of conservation, the dangers of continued and future oil dependence, than there have been of the relatively recent Right wing and corporate-sponsored anti-Environment movement propaganda. So just how did such obvious lies catch up to and overtake the truth for many in America?
-The way it happened was this: Lies, -the kind of lies that are invented to muddy facts and question truths inconvenient to the powerful, the Rich, the Establishment were created to be appealing to the believer. That’s the only way they could work. These lies gave the listener something in return for “buying in.”

“You can still lose weight and eat everything you want”
is a statement I see every night on TV infomercials in some form or another. This American desire, particularly the willingness of our desperate fat citizens to do absolutely anything in the world to lose weight (except eating right and exercising apparently) is the core of our problem, and it is what is behind the Tea Baggers today, and it is what was behind the Reagan revolution of 1980.

Tea Baggers believe that they can groundlessly oppose the Obama administration with criticisms they should have leveled at its predecessors (Spending, irresponsible economic governance, government intrusion, weak national security) because it makes them feel okay about claiming they’ve somehow lost their country now that a Black man is president.
Reagan’s supporters were told America could spend its way to prosperity; that we could deregulate big business and it would never create adverse consequences, -ever, because it allowed us to finally say what we felt was a long overdue “fuck you” to the poor. We believed it because it made us feel good. We believed it because it was allowing us to eat all we wanted, without any ill effects… that was the promise and that was the lie.

So the problem with America my friends, aside from our new impatience with any administration or any policy that takes more than six months to register a measurable improvement is this infantile desire to be lied to in place of an ugly truth, and the willingness to trade our safety and our future for just the right fantasy. Too many of us will buy into any lie, as long as the reality it promises let’s us get away with something. You can’t discuss policy with people who want to be lied to. You can’t have a conversation with someone who is lying about how they really feel, unless your goal is to waste your time. I don’t argue with Tea Baggers.

And that’s where we’re at today, Friday September 10, 2010, almost ten long years to the day after a homicidal fundamentalist asshole decided to make a point to my government with facile destructive attacks that only showed just how easy it is to murder people in an open society and an open nation and little else. The American Republic and its Constitution almost didn’t survive 9/11 and ten years later, too many of us are still taking the bait, too eager to hear lies that give us something in return for our credulity, like believing the lie that only allowing our government to operate secretly will keep us safe… or that the actions of the few can conveniently condemn all. -But that last bit goes for all of us, -the real “all of us” everywhere on the globe, whether we’re burning books, killing aid workers, denying people’s rights, or waging unending wars supported by some fake, self-inflicted distance from reality.

A lie is a kind of trade between the speaker and the listener.
We must always ask ourselves what someone is getting for our belief, and if it’s actually worth what we are getting in return.

UPDATED 9/16/2010:
Jack Jodell has written an excellently researched rundown of lies that should not go uncontested or unremembered going into the fall.
Enhanced by Zemanta


Mycue23 said...

There are some lies that no matter how often they are repeated will not become the truth. The problem is that so many people are willing to believe the right lie, over and over again. Sacrifice and hard work are easily discarded for the easy promise of milk and honey. There are no shortcuts to the "promised land", but there is also no shortage of people with a GPS to nirvana. Lies, half truths and deceptions, only work when the person listening is a ready and willing ally. As you have so ably stated here, we are a nation of willing allies.

SJ said...

I'm indebted to you for this forum my friend. It's been a great place to sort out some of the nagging paradoxes of our Republic.

Jack Jodell said...

This was as deep and profound a post delving into the depths of the human (and particularly modern American) psyche as I have ever seen. Your perception and analytic skill are awe-inspiring.

I think you make a very good case that we are constantly being lied to - by business, media, and politician alike. Could it be that we have become so conditioned to lies that we now accept them as a way of life and simply look the other way?

Hitler, Goebbels, Atwater, Cheney, and Rove all understood and mastered the power of lying as a craft. We live today with the terrible aftereffects of their lying. We cannot allow figures like that, or their institutionalized version, Fox "News", to influence our nation's decision-making and course of direction as we have in the past. All who love truth must stand up and be beacons of light in a dark and dishonest world.

Coincidentally, my next post will deal with the flood of conservative Republican lies we have endured over the past few years, and will also feature Pinocchio in its upper left corner. Great minds think alike, I guess. :-) Keep up the good work. Nice to hear from you again, and well worth the wait!

SJ said...

thanks man. I guess what I was trying to get at was also a confession of what I now suspect to be naivete on my own part: I've always believed that if you told, showed and proved the facts, the truth, people would get their act together... You can lead a horse to water, ...but you can't make it think.
I'll keep an eye out for your next post Jack. I appreciate the kind words my friend and the vote of confidence.