Sunday, July 28, 2013

Lord Haw Haw Lives in Kansas

It is an ongoing thesis of this little blog (and certainly not mine alone) that one of the cancers growing and thriving on our democratic system of government is the Fox media empire--and particularly Fox "News." You can of course find obvious examples of propagandizing in nearly every broadcast by the network, and not just in the bizarre harangue shows such as O'Reilly or Hannity. The Fox News task is to obfuscate and confuse the electorate. This ongoing task, bought and paid for by people who view democracy as an impediment to making the most money possible in the least time, is effective in bringing us less and less competent and capable governance. The long term goal is probably to make government so incompetent that it will eventually be replaced by a committee of fatherly overseers, who will probably "get things done" at last. The trains will again run on time. Bridges will be rebuilt. And so forth.

One feature of this toil is to make most rational thought seem the very opposite. This task is carried out even in the most esoteric of regions, such as the scholarly study of comparative religion--a distinguished field with a history of centuries of scholarship behind it. Just as with the faux discrediting of the whole of climatology, which has at this point yielded the desired result in government, namely, paralysis; just as with the hysterical amplification of paranoid NRA talking points, which has lead to total paralysis of any government action concerning the proliferation of firearms, now Fox takes on a scholarly analysis of Christianity. Check it out:

This is star-chamber-worthy dialog. I am embarrassed for this obviously capable, distinguished scholar to have to endure a second of this crap. It reminds me, more than anything, of the moment at the beginning of the great film Katyn (directed by Andrzej Wajda), when the faculty of a Polish university is rounded up by Nazis and briefly interrogated. The only thing missing in the Fox piece is the men with machine guns at the margins. The questions, by the ignorant or clever Fox interrogator, are exactly the same sort of questions the SS Captain asks of the stunned professors.

We are losing our democracy in increments. Fox News is a major factor in an ongoing disinformation campaign. It is ubiquitous in our culture, probably on more public television screens than any other network by far, and even in its omnipresence Fox manages, like Jesse Helms did in the US Senate, to push the entire conversation that is our national understanding "what's going on" farther and farther rightwards, and into regions of fear and confusion, where our prejudices and given misapprehensions are the driving factors in our public choices.

As I've said more than once here, to understand the authoritarian yearning one must appreciate the aphorism in this little account of Mussolini and the reporter:

"What will you do, sir, if you are elected?"
"Why, first of all, I will kill you."

We saw, in the days after 9/11, how quickly rationality gives way to fear and anxiety. There is a reason why "fire" is not shouted in a crowded theatre. It's not because it's a lie, or even because it's true.

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