Sunday, August 29, 2010

You Beck Ya!

One would think that when the two most challenged minds on the right join hands and word substitution in an effort to rally a nation back to it's "roots", the earth would move, the light would dawn, the chasm would somehow begin to close between perception and reality. Unfortunately, the only result was to see that that chasm is far wider and deeper than anyone could have imagined.
But then, according to Glenn Beck, who held his "Restoring Honor" rally yesterday in Washington DC, "Something beyond imagination is happening. America today begins to turn back to God."
As any viewer of Beck's FoxNews propoganda spread well knows, he teeters conspicuously on the side of righteous conservatism and evangelical statism. He has built an aura of pseudo-Christianity, using the names and verses of that faith(he is a Mormon) to stir the political pot and ominously warn of "thing to come". He is 100% political, and when he tried to characterize his rally,  "Restoring Honor", as unpolitical, it was not to be taken seriously, especially with the likes of Sarah Palin headlining.
As ex-governor of Alaska Sarah Palin said, "Sometimes our challenges seem insurmountable."
We have 18% unemployment, a recovery that never happened for roughly 80% of all working Americans, a rising deficit, an economy that goes in fits and starts, and a government that, as ever it has been, is in the clenched fist of business interests.
That's what a "jobless recovery" means---corporations profit while workers go poor.
Of course, that isn't what Sarah Palin was talking about. She was talking about that black guy in the White House, the Muslim scourge that is tearing around the USA building mosques like they're going out of business, and wars that we can't seem to convince anyone that we are winning.

Nonetheless, the rally was not political and though it was attended by Tea Party members and the crowd was unmistakably white, there was nothing about specific parties or candidates. It was a good example of how to rally conservatives without rallying the conservative vote--explicitly.
No, Glenn is out to milk God for all he is worth. Of course, because he has no idea, personally, what to think about God, and any honest investigation of the values of this God--be he Jehovah, Allah, or Christ--would demonstarte the obvious charlatanism of Becks campaign, Beck has to fall back on the audiences perception, as he often does on his show. He uses what are termed "connoctation words" to his benefit. That is, it doesn't matter whether he believes it, he uses the terminology in the context of the viewer.
A good example is this: "Really the only place you can really find honor is our military now, where you find it in abundance."
He was refering to his feature of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a group of Special Forces families committed to supporting the families of those who fell in any given campaign. But notice his use of the connoctation word "honor".
Does he mean sacrifice?
Does he mean honesty?
Does he mean a kind of truth, justice or merit?
Truth is, Glenn Beck doesn't know what he means and doesn't care either. If you choose any one of the available definitions of honor, you would find that his statement is a bloated generalization that devalues the word "honor" while it devalues both the SOWF, the military, and every America who ever thought they maybe possessed a little "honor" of any kind. Clearly policemen, firemen, rescue workers, doctors, pastors, teachers, community leaders, etc. have no "honor" because they aren't in the military and that's the only place you can find it, according to Glenn Beck.
So what you find is that he takes the power of the word, manipulates it to get his point across--while doing his best to appear distressed, exasperated, emotionally fatigued by the intensity of his concerns--and places it out there like a kind of subjective magnet for his ideas to draw into. Yes, subjective. Subjective words are perfect for connoctation because they often have broad perceptions of their meaning: democracy. freedom. liberate. just. true. fair. equitable. love. These are all very subjective words in that their exact meaning is predicated upon the context of the sentence and the perception of the reader.
Thus we have a rally of 150,000 white folks to "Restore Honor".
So what was the point?
To reclaim the civil rights movement?
To restore honor?
To get back to God?
To get "our country back", as one supporter insisted?
Or is it to "Go to church. Restore America with peace", as another declared to Al Sharpton marchers nearby?
No, it was a launching point. It definately, at the end of the day, was a kind of political rally in that it was a red-state jihad that paves the way for the November elections and scares the hell out of Democrats. But it also illustrates the power of Fox propoganda, of conservative christianity, and of grass roots organizing. It also shows that the middle of country is plenty disenfranchised and disconnected, but about all the wrong things. If there is a question of honor in America, one need look no further than the past few decades. Politicians and businessmen have never been honorable, and they have exploited any ill-deserved trust in order to engourge themselves while impoverishing the rest of us. Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama have all had similar programs, similar goals, and similar results.
Restoring honor?
Honor certainly has some relation to justice and to integrity. A nation that spends more than the entire world combined on defense to maintain the greatest killing machine ever known has a long walk toward any shade of  HONOR. A nation that tortures children, blows people up by remote control, and uses devastating disasters as a hook to keep the poor on a leash certainly has no relation whatsoever to HONOR. And a people who would hustle down to DC and talk about civil rights and God while showing not one ounce of love or compassion for the poor, the minority, the homeless, or the hungry in their country, and instead bemoan their black president, the healthcare bill, and the banker scam as some injustice done to rural, white, christian America and not ALL OF US surely are clueless about church, God, justice, truth, and HONOR.

Glenn Beck has no honor. He is a mouthpiece. A clown. An actor.
A charlatan.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why You Gotta 'Mosque-at-Ground-Zero' Me, Man?

You know what it's like, right? You give a hitchhiker a ride and then he wants a cigarette, too. You go an extra mile and somebody wants another three past that. It seems like we all have had a situation when we've politely extended our hand only to have it bitten for our generosity.
Here's a great example of a 'mosque-at-ground-zero-me' moment. My co-worker is minding her business, getting product out, doing her job, and all of a sudden she hears Latino music playing nearby. What? Not only does she have to work with Mexicans here in New Jersey, but now she has to listen to their "musica Espanol" on top of that?
"This is America!" she sharply insists.
Yup. The whole darn hemisphere.
What is behind this xenophobic reaction to the proposed Islamic worship center? Is it just 9/11 and the soreness it engenders? Is it a real fear? Or is it what one could call "replacement bigotry"? This reaction seems to me to be severely overblown, so much so that I have come up with a few reasons for it:

1. November Elections: No doubt the peaceniks over at Fox are drooling over the chance to unseat the evil socialist/liberal cabal that has succesfully continued most of the more controversial programs of the previous conservative administration. This is one way to seperate the wheat from the chaff. Anyone who crosses that line is clearly batting for the wrong team!
2. Exhausted Homophobia: It's fair to say that US citizens are more or less tired of the gay marraige scare, at least as much as it could be a voting issue. What worked in 2004 with a Republican regime doesn't play as easily to  Democratic sympathizers. That leaves whatever victim you can grab onto and drag to your local polling place. In this case, it's the regurgitated Muslim menace.
3. Pre-Revolutionary Fervor: This may be the most serious possibility, in conjunction with doses of the above two. It is worth recognizing the extreme agitation Americans are experiencing today, especially those who are more right-leaning. Consider what they have endured; a Black president, Socialist healthcare, regulated financial institutions, and a failure on the part of our military to nuke Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, OR Iraq. This is all VERY disappointing. But this is, of course, just the Glen Becks. The grassroots voters, the Tea Party people, are folks who have been raised in middle America on factories, pensions, farms, small towns, and that familiar "rugged individualism". And this should be admired, I think. Unfortunately, all of these things are evaporating, and the timing is just such that there are few good scapegoats. Those that can and should be blamed always seem to be out of the spotlight(because the pundits have no use for those without political capital). Confused, abandoned, and angry, they are led along by countless conservative mouthpieces who use hate and fear as tools to capture and harness all of that negative energy. They haphazardly glue together one frightening scenerio after another, along the lines of "If we let this happen, our RIGHTS, our FREEDOMS, will be GONE!" Those things are already gone, of course, for the few who have bothered to investigate. And it is not because our president is a different color or because the Islamic population edged up a fraction of a percent. It is because those in power we were told to trust proved untrustworthy--whether they be bankers, lawyers, CEO's, or congressmen. They were predominantly rich, white guys in any case, not brown-skinned Arabs. Christian, largely, and not Muslim.

It becomes a bit unnerving, I have to say, when it seems like the anti-Islamic pitch is getting to dog-whistle decibels. It means people are frightened enough and angry enough to react in ways they normally would not, such as the uptick in anti-Muslim attacks we saw after 9/11. With this supposed afront to good white people two blocks from the ex-World Trade Center, there is a virtual revenge motif about to play itself out.
What is most bewildering--and disturbing--is that these "mosque" foes don't seem to take into account the amount of damage the United States has already done to Islam and Islamic peoples. Over 3 MILLION Iraqis have died one way or another since March of 1991 as a result of US actions. To this day that nation is a toxic cesspool of depleted uranium, contaminated drinking water, deformed babies, and unbreathable air. In Afghanistan the toll of civilian dead continues to rise, the pilotless drone strikes taking 5, 8, 10, or 15 at a time, always "suspected" terrorists.
How many dead is enough dead? What level of bloodlust, what degree of utter humiliation and destruction is enough to satisfy the 3,000 victims of 19 radical hijackers?
That we can peruse these numbers and still have folks upset about a building anywhere near that fatal crime scene is a testament not to the "violence of Islam" but rather to the extreme prejudice and violence festering in the minds of a good many US citizens. What that means, as our economy seems to hobble down to both knees, is the potential for a very ugly brand of what we call "democracy"--perhaps the very brand that allowed a depressed and angry people to find a future in the election of an obscure Austrian artist in 1930's Germany and make him their god.
I hope we have not so easily come to that.

And So It Begins

Introduction: The blog name says it all.
If you know me, there you go. If not, you will soon enough.
I am a bit of a kook at times, alternately brash and insightful. I have a good backround for "useless information", as it were, but as it tends to be more facts and figures, I use it to my advantage. I have a nasty tendency to speak my mind in most situations, especially when offered inaccurate or misguided statements from people in general. Am I a soap-boxer? I suppose so.
As far as whether I am liberal, conservative, religious, or whatever, it really depends on the topic and the context.
Let's just say I am "fair-minded". That is, I take that point of view which seems to me to be the most just and equitable for all concerned. However, I am also likely to dig for the facts if challenged, and will readily admit my own false position or statement if I find I myself am wrong in a point or opinion.

I offer this blog as my thoughts and opinions on what we are doing here, where we're going, and what I think can be deduced from the people and events we come across in these extremely interesting and difficult times. I will aim not to be adversarial if possible, but I will not promise that I will not be livid at times, despondent at others, or just down right pissed off some days.
What I do offer is honesty, as sincerely as I can.

Thank you for reading, and I hope this blog ends up as good as I hope it will be for me, for you also.

Chuck Moon