In the bookstore tonight, I was depressed and a little surprised to see a number of Obama-hatred books prominently displayed on Borders' display racks. It's getting so a person can't avoid the extreme right-wing propaganda ministry even in more educated places. The laudatory books and Obama's own books are buried in the back somewhere, but the titles screaming that the President is putting our country (nay, civilization itself; the very planet!) at risk of annihilation are placed front and center. (Ironically, these same people deny that climate change--which scientists think really IS putting the planet at risk--is even occurring.)
This stuff seems like it ought to be kept in a tar-papered cage with a bar under which a person must stoop to be able to peruse the titles.
I say the same things over and over, I know. I don't want the job of Obama's Champion. I've posted relatively few love-fest posts toward the new administration, and I'm very happy not to be the chief defender of any governmental entity. But how not to despair for a political discourse (if it can be called that) which is devoid of reason and dialog and civility? Or even just simple truth, though perhaps the words politics and truth do not belong in the same sentence. But really; when the titles scream "Control Freaks: How Obama and the Democrats Want To Control Your Life!" or "Party of Liars: The Web Of Lies That Brought Obama and his Group Of Radicals to Power" I feel like I've passed through a malign looking glass. Why is it not enough to stick to facts? Why is it not enough to disagree--there's plenty of legitimate scope for this; why must every objection be apocalyptic?
I know the answer: this is what sells. The better question is why does this apocalypticism work? Why are we not smarter than this? Why do we buy books and read articles that put forth ideas which we know to be hyperbolic or completely false?
In the time it takes me to write this post, the headlines come fast and furious:
Conservapaedia: E=MC2 Is A Liberal Conspiracy. "The theory of relativity is a mathematical system that allows no exceptions. It is heavily promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to mislead people in how they view the world." (Honest-to-Jebus. The article actually printed that quote.)
Quayle's son: Obama the 'worst president in history.' Sorry, dude. But after the guy has been in office for all of 18 months that statement only succeeds in marking you as a fucking idiot. All you've demonstrated is that you don't know your history.
Kan. GOP candidate's campaign links to racist blog. "...his campaign posted on its Twitter feed and Facebook page a link to a blog that uses a racial slur to refer to his Democratic opponent and calls President Barack Obama an 'evil muslim communist USURPER.'"
Newt Gingrich decries the "outrageous disrespect for our Constitution" in the California judge's suspension of Prop 8. As if our Constitutional rights are only what a majority of people at any given time wish them to be. (As if a guy on his third marriage--and at least his second adulterous relationship--has any business speaking about the sanctity of marriage!)
Yet these collected things appear to represent the "thinking" of an ascendant portion of the American electorate.
What disturbs me most is not that people say stupid, unsupportable things, but that these views could ever gain traction. There are, and have always been, stupid people; but how can our media--the products of higher education--be so steered by them? I gave up on network television a couple decades ago for its insistence upon shocking and titillating and entertaining rather than informing. But things have slid considerably since that time, so much so that we cannot now have an adult discussion about political matters. How far can we be from McCarthy-esque witch hunts when this kind of "thinking" prevails (and, right on cue, it seems that not everyone thinks McCarthy's exile is fair and balanced).