The Greatest Threat to the Planet: The Right Wing Noise Machine, Part 2
February 11, 2011
Our problems are more mental than environmental.
A few months ago I posted a piece that was not strictly about climate change, but in fact had everything to do with why we are where we are. The greatest threat to the planet is not the gases spewing from smokestacks, but the lies and misinformation pouring out of the Right Wing Echo chamber from television, radio, and the right wing press, which is re-amplified and repeated endlessly on innumerable internet sources.
This piece of video is astounding, maybe because of how routine it’s become. A group of hard core republican voters, coached by GOP “pollster” Frank Luntz, affirm that they believe, seriously, that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim, who is using his position as President of the United States, to stealthily impose a foreign set of values on America. Luntz barely misses a beat, other than a quick “Wow..”, and then plows right ahead, seemingly unable to break persona long enough to stop and say, “Are you people out of your freaking minds?”.
The screen splits revealing an impassive Sean Hannity, one of the master misinformers… who also acts as if this is somehow normal.
What is going on is a split not just in political opinion, but a split in the ability to judge what is real and what is not.
I remember attending a political event with a mixed crowd during the Vietnam era, standing next to a couple of older, white, midwestern women. One of them pointed at a large peace sign that a protester was holding. “Look”, she said, “The Witch’s Foot!”
I realized then that what we had was a sub-population of people who didn’t just hold different opinions, but were looking at the world with a radically different set of information than I had. What I didn’t realize is that, a decade later, someone would figure out how to harness this hopelessly ignorant and pliable subculture to serve the political needs of the most powerful industrial interests, and elect a figurehead who would pull America away from pursuing a path toward renewable, fossil fuel free energy that Jimmy Carter was setting us on.
Several oil wars, and half a degree of planetary warming later, it seems that the plan is spinning out of control. The docile disinformation drones seem to have broken out of the reservation and are not only taking over the Republican party, they’ve distorted the political debate in this country into a circus of infoporn, that until very recently, the “establishment media’ has been willing to treat as merely normal difference of opinion, instead of a pathological break with objective reality.
Those of us left who can still read, and make rational judgements, can no longer sit on the sidelines. It’s not just infotainment anymore, it threatens the ability of the planet to sustain life.