Friday, December 18, 2015

The Crowded Theater Where Everyone Can Yell Fire

Ah, the internet. The current source of choice when it comes to knowledge, news, communication, and it would seem, dangerous bullshit.

The world wide web is the ultimate democracy, equally accessible to every up and coming Stephen Hawking, Hunter Thompson, George Will, Tim McVeigh, and Islamic State thug on the planet. It contains valuable information sources for millions of decent people and instant conversations between friends and loved ones. However, it's also conducive to, not just nefarious terrorist plots, but horrid cranks who can hide behind a dense fog of anonymity.

In fact, for many, the net is the ultimate crowded theater in which they can stand up and yell, "Fire!" at the top of their lungs even when there isn't a blaze.

Some do it for fun, or just because they can. Others do it to further political agendas, or prove to themselves that their worst fears and hatred of one group, or another is justified.

Case in point. Today, FactCheck.Org is reporting that there was a FaceBook posting--it didn't name names--which has gone viral about a demonstration in Dearborn, Michigan on December 5th, shortly after the gruesome terror attack in San Bernadino. The text, which accompanied a photo of demonstrators read, "This is Dearborn, Michigan after the radical Islamic attack in California. These are ISIS flags and supporters, folks, but the media has not reported it because of political correctness."

Actually the media did report the protest and it noted the people involved were Arab-Americans. But--in the photo you can clearly read a sign held by a couple of them which reads, "99.9 percent of ISIS victims are Muslim." It's sort of a strange thing for Jihadists to say, right?

Well, that's because the people in the photo were protesting against ISIS, not celebrating it.

It isn't the first time the good people of Dearborn, whose population of 90,000 plus is 30% Arab American, have been savagely libeled. FactCheck reports it and the city's government have been receiving terrified and outraged emails for two years after a self described satirical web site called, The National Report, put out a story which claimed Dearborn was the first city in the United States to implement Sharia law.

It was a suspiciously cruel joke and absolutely untrue, but there were plenty of yokels out there who bought every last word of it.

In another moment of hateful quackery FactCheck says a photo of a sign on a Dearborn street went viral after it was digitally altered to read, "Advancement of Islamic Agenda for America/Allah be  praised/America we will kill you all and/nothing you can do to stop it/Allah be praised." It was topped by a crescent and star logo.

The original photo was on a web site called Church Sign Maker. It read, "First Assembly of God/Church Sign Maker. On the top of the sign was a torch logo. In the background of each photo the exact same cars are waiting at a stoplight.

It would be easy to blame Donnie Trump for this crude propaganda blitz, but it was around before he started rousing the rabble. No, the real culprit is a pervasive, decades long, right wing talk radio campaign, which has been aided and abetted by Fox News.

Inside the foul conservative media bubble it has and is still, drilled into the volk each and every day, hour after hour, that all mainstream media is corrupt, a tool of liberal, one world, elitists who twist every fact to serve their ends. Such a notion creates a void which allows the type of malicious fucks who have demonized Dearborn, to rush in and create an alternate universe. It's one that doesn't have a thing to do with reality, but it rings true with those who feel besieged by a changing nation and believe they've been lied to by everyone to the left of Rush Limbaugh.

On the extreme end of this cult are those brutal fools infesting YouTube who claim every mass shooting in the United States is a, "Black Flag" operation meant to curb gun control and establish a dictatorship. Tragically, their first cousins inhabit places like Twitter and Facebook. They pass on posts such as the ones about Dearborn fully believing in each and every one of them. They do it, not because they are particularly evil in their daily lives, but because it validates every evil preconception and stereotype they've ever held.

That, in the final analysis, is the awful truth when it comes to this age of instant information and access.

God help us all.

sic vita est


1 comment:

  1. Time was when the only people getting published, unless one was fortunate to have a letter to the editor printed in the local newspaper, were professional journalists and top tier writers of fiction and non fiction. Today, anyone can post on social media sites, such as Facebook, just about anything (s)he wishes, with little fear of retribution. It is a wise idea not to take anything you see or read on such sites too seriously. Photoshopped pictures and "news" items of questionable validity rule the the day in our time. The media has never been as perfect and pure as we would like to believe, but I think I think I hear ol' Walter turning over in his coffin.