How Big Bird and bayonets are dominating political discouse
Our nation is more than $16 trillion in debt. With stubbornly high unemployment, 23 million Americans are out of work while millions more settle for part-time jobs; half of college graduates can’t find work at all and are moving back in with their parents. Nearly a quarter of homeowners are underwater with their mortgages. The Middle East is in a free fall, Iran is fast-tracking its nuclear capability and instead of Al Qaeda being on the run, they are killing our ambassadors and grooming more terrorists. Medicare is going broke yet it is being pillaged to help fund Obamacare.
Regardless of political leanings, reasonable people can agree that we need a serious dialogue on how to confront America’s myriad challenges. Instead what are we getting—particularly from the supporters of President Obama—are fabricated fripperies irresponsibly disseminated in the mainstream media, instant websites, memes, Twitter hashtags, and Facebook pages. Vile comments and images are spreading like maggots on roadkill. Call it the Fluking of America.
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Leaders who pander to a select ethnic or cultural group by demonizing others are hardly new. The United States has a long history of such ignoble characters—Huey Long, Father Charles Coughlin, Joseph McCarthy, George Wallace, and Al Sharpton among them—who gain power by lighting a flame of blame and revulsion on a dangerous “other.”
In years past, we called them demagogues, rabble-rousers, race-baiters, and bigots. Such fear mongering was considered shameful and despicable. Until now. Demagoguery has been reinvented to fit a new era: Welcome to Identity Politics, 2012.
In popular media, the image of an intolerant extremist is cliché—a populist white social conservative from flyover country who objectifies women and hates gays, minorities and smart people. In truth, too many Michele Bachmanns and Todd Akins still exist, but thankfully more and more conservatives are disavowing their worst actors. As they should. read more »