Courageous Civil Rights Leader, Rep. John Lewis has died and left us with an opened path and a challenge. Born a sharecropper, Lewis marched with Martin Luther King in a non-violent protest and was beaten by police – but this did not stop him. Lewis went on to become a Democratic Congressman in Georgia, serving 17 terms and earning a reputation as a bold, persistent and compassionate Civil Rights activist. His tireless, non-violent efforts helped open the path to progress and they continue to challenge us to remember the long game and to steel ourselves with patience and persistence in the fight for justice in America. Tune in to “In the Frequency of Hope at 7PM on Monday July 20 to learn more and to celebrate this great American leader.
In the midst of American debates about individual safety and freedom, it might be instructive to consider the words of this Supreme Court decision…what do YOU think?
Now that Bernie Sanders has shown that he has wide support, the corporate media is in full panic mode and they are getting a bit hysterical about his self-imposed label “democratic socialist.” If you listen carefully, you will hear a litany of predictable slogans and scarewords like “socialist,” “far left,” “radical left” and more. Unfortunately for them, sloganeering is not a replacement for thoughtful, factually supported argument. These words are used because they work – they successfully cloud the minds and the judgement of those who come under their spell. They also frighten people into voting against their own self-interest.
The good news is that many young people are more immune to the scarewords and therefore not as terrified of socialism as their elders. It may be that they have a more informed and sophisticated understanding of what socialism is and how if functions. Older generations and the less informed largely base their “arguments” on a few failed examples, some of which aren’t even socialist: Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea. The sloganeering used is predictable because anti-socialist propaganda is repeated everywhere, not just on Fox. Most demonstrate their misunderstanding by using “socialist,” “communist,” and “fascist” interchangeably. More importantly, anti-socialist scaredy cats usually overlook the many “socialist” aspects of America that they appreciate: the military, public roads, public schools, public libraries, public hospitals, bridges, and much more.
Perhaps the biggest blindspot for the anti-socialist scaredy cat is the fact that America already is socialist. Corporate socialism is so much a part of our environment it has become nearly invisible to us. We don’t balk over the subsidies that are given to corporations every year. We try to ignore the fact that many hugely profitable corporations do not pay any taxes. We attempt to convince ourselves that we should subsidize corporations because they are “job creators” even though we know that these jobs offer minimal wages, decreasing benefits and no security.
What the scaredy cats really need to fear is plutocracy – rule by a wealthy few. The 1% are the folks most terrified of socialism because they don’t want to give up any of their own subsidies. They smugly lecture us about work and responsibility while constantly lobbying for more public funding and shirking all accountability for cleaning up their own messes. They dodge their taxes and park their money overseas to avoid paying their fair share. To put it simply: GREED is the reason they don’t want “we the people” to receive what most other developed countries offer: healthcare, education, childcare and other social programs. Such socially positive public spending is not “radical” nor is it “extreme,” it’s just good common sense. What is radical however is the growing wealth gap in America – a natural result of corporate socialism, the mechanism of plutocracy.
Perhaps it is time we reverse this mechanism and re-direct our tax dollars to programs that benefit ordinary working folks rather than filling the pockets of the already immensely wealthy. This is not radical, this is neither Democratic nor Republican, neither liberal nor conservative, it’s simply something to think about next time you vote.
Beware the mistaken math of denial.
Whether we’re talking about climate change, Bernie’s electability or the overwhelming evidence demonstrating abuse of power by a leader, inevitably there is a deliberate flaw in the reasoning used to arrive at such conclusions that “TWO AND TWO MAKE FIVE.” In George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, this mistaken math is the dogma of unaccountable power, “true” because it says so.
This form of doublethink requires “a sort of athleticism of mind, an ability at one moment to make the most delicate use of logic and at the next to be unconscious of the crudest logical errors. Stupidity was as necessary as intelligence, and as difficult to attain.”
A hidden danger lurks.
As we seek to find the truth in our chaotic world with its whirlwind of information, disinformation and misinformation, let us avoid the misleading “all perspectives are valid,” mindset that challenges us to consider all topics with an open mind. Naturally we wish to be “open minded” and thus we are tempted to entertain a questionable skepticism about things like the origins of life, the shape of the earth, climate change or the reality of the lunar landing.
In confusing times like these, teeming with propaganda and corporate bias mixed with objective truths, it can be hard to know where to turn. Avoid the kinds of bias that come from wealthy owners and profit pressure – tune in to local, independent media like WRWK 93.9FM TheWorkFM. Listen to programming unhindered by corporate bias that won’t require you to believe that two and two make five.
It’s been a few years since I’ve read O’Connor’s 2008 book Shock Jocks but its relevance could hardly be greater in today’s divided and misinformed America. Contrary to constant claims by some media outlets that “liberal media” control the conversation, O’Connor reveals that “democratic dialogue is being hindered by a huge ideological imbalance in the medium. Conservative viewpoints have long dominated talk radio.” The result of this has not only been widespread misinformation on crucial issues like gun control but more subtly a deep hatred of “liberals” whether they be so named or claim the name Democrat, progressive, socialist or leftist. This is a dangerous and largely unexplored phenomenon that has yet to play out in America. There are some liberals who have earned this hate with their smug self-righteousness, PC policing and angry attempts at censorship but these could not explain the constant and venomous vilification of the left that is broadcast by shock jocks to large audiences every day.
I got to thinking about the open-carry gun rights march coming to Richmond, Virginia on MLK Day and how so many people fall for the paranoid claim that the 2nd Amendment is under threat and the government is coming to take away our guns. Unless you equate any gun control legislation as a violation and a threat (a bit of a stretch) this is not even close to true. Shock jocks often promote 2nd amendment fears and plentiful evidence demonstrates that for decades the NRA has deployed disinformation and stoked hysteria about threatened gun rights – and now we know what they’ve done with all the money they took from their members. I enjoy shooting sports and I appreciate the 2nd Amendment but I have no need to carry a gun nor do I have a problem with sensible gun legislation. I have no fear that our guns are going to be taken away. To the contrary, it could be argued that the militia movement is by far the greater threat to America – especially with our current president.
In this digital-bluetooth-communications revolution we might be tempted to dismiss radio as an outdated and ineffective medium of communication but this would be a mistake. Podcasts, a radio-friendly medium, are hugely popular now and as I’ve noted, the impact of shock jock talk radio is having widespread and ugly reverberations in America. Most students of history know that the Nazis were the first to use radio for propaganda purposes to stoke irrational fear and hatred of Jews and other “undesirables.” Fewer folks know about the role of radio in the Rawandan genocide of the early 1990s.
The inconvenient and horrific fact is that over 800,000 people were hacked to death by machete wielding fanatics, stoked and specifically guided by the ultimate in hate radio. We might first notice that gun laws would not have prevented this mass murder but more chilling is how easily a country can be duped into a civil war and genocide by targeting and demonizing a scapegoated group through the old-fashioned but economical medium of radio.
Here at WRWK TheWorkFM.org we reject hate radio and the scapegoating of minority groups as strenuously as we reject the corporate bias of commercial radio. You can support our mission to bring intelligent, non-commercial and relevant talk radio to the airwaves by making a donation or volunteering today.