One of the puzzling and disturbing realities about today’s culture and associated politics is the degree that some self-interest groups (gimme more guns, evangelicals, so-called conservatives, pseudo-patriots, ‘America first’ nationalists) have tried to monopolize religious, law enforcement, military and patriotic symbols by their smothering embrace of cops, bibles, flags and veterans. Their in-your-face attitudes blatantly claim ownership and imply that they now own these iconic symbols in an exclusionary manner.
Fox ‘News’ programs play this up constantly by their ‘heartfelt’ little stories about heroic cops, individuals characterized as being discriminated against (anti-gay bakers) and faux cases of ‘freedom suppression’ (the Texas hairdresser violating Covid restrictions)–victimology politics to be blunt. They floss these nuggets as positive, atta boy, feel good messages for a stressed out society ‘being ruined by socialist spoilsports.’ …. Flag hugging, cops can do no wrong, white lives matter more, American was founded as a Christian nation, unions suck, Nancy Pelosi eats human babies in Hilary’s back yard. Donald Trump has done more for black people than Abraham Lincoln. If the president was wrong he was only joking and much more…
There is irony in these scenarios, in that the embrace is almost always hypocritical in the extreme. Freedom is defined as the freedom to abuse others in defense or one’s own prejudices, and to justify dangerous public health behaviors in the service of self-interest.
One of the principal promoters of these aberrations from a genuinely free and just society is the Fox ‘News’ network. It was originated, and is still run by, an Australian tabloid sleaze-monger named Rupert Murdock, who owns tacky newspapers and media outlets throughout the English-speaking world. He publishes sensational, bogus and scurrilous material meant to stoke banal behavior, derived from deceitful misrepresentations. His early and continuing hallmarks in some of these markets employ enticing cleavage shot photos of women to attract the attention of working class yokels. Fox is probably best characterized as news porn, and it makes a lot of money.
Trump is a social media sniper and skips direct, earnest contact with the public and the press. He tries to limit his exposure to fire-free zones like Fox ‘News’, at least in the past, while discrediting any and all challenges to his supremacy of knowledge and truth. He bullies and disparages reporters and newspapers if they don’t mollify him. Another favorite venue for him is while striding to a noisy Marine helicopter where he can make a quick exit or pretend it is too noisy to understand or reply to a reporter’s question. This contrived press ‘opportunity’ is pathetically staged to create confusion, tension and distraction and obfuscate issues by quippy responses to serious queries. He snipes like a coward from his Twitter account, which has now been abolished for his abusive disinformation and sedition-framed agenda.
The entire social media landscape is an enormous threat to our republic. It facilitates the agenda of nihilistic forces, dictatorial governments and political mischief-makers worldwide. They occupy a space that escapes the reasonable monitoring and regulation of society’s lawmakers. They have a hall pass, so far, to decide how evil misinformation (propaganda) can be used, unfettered, to control public perceptions of everything from public health emergencies to foreign threats. They are reckless, overall, and are strengthening their hold on their media empires and their lucrative monetization by aggressive monopolistic efforts, lobbying and favor currying. We are naïve about how profound their influence and immunity is, and the destructive consequences they portend for our aspiring democratic society. They have the real potential of destroying our democracy and democratic aspirations globally. Be warned!