Friday, August 27, 2010

What is it about August?

What is it about August that makes many ordinary Americans lose what common sense they may possess?

Last August we had the town hall screamers, the people who shouted down any attempt to talk sense to them about the Health Care Reform bill. The year before that, we had the "birthers" who attended political rallies during the presidential election campaign and loudly proclaimed that Barack Obama was not born in this country and that he was a Muslim to boot.

Now, this August we have the anti-Muslim shouters, the people who don't want a mosque built in New York City, even though the elected representatives of the people there have approved the building. For that matter, they don't want a mosque built anywhere. Tennessee, too, is apparently too close to the destroyed World Trade Center. (On the other hand, the fact that there is a Muslim prayer room in the Pentagon which was also attacked on September 11, 2001 seems to bother no one. Go figure.)

It seems a remarkable coincidence that this happens every year and that all this furor is inevitably about some phony issue, some issue that doesn't exist as a concern until somebody goes to work ginning up the outrage. Coincidence? Well, maybe not.

In the New Yorker, out this week, investigative journalist Jane Mayer has followed the money and connected the dots to show how so many of these things are related. She found that the money trail led directly to the door of the Koch brothers, multi-billionaires - that's billion with a "b" - who are determined to destroy Barack Obama and who oppose any initiative which they deem "progressive."

They, for example, have spent millions of their billions in starting up and supporting the tea party movement. They have hired buses to take people around the country to attend tea party gatherings and to make those events appear to have more supporters than they really do.

Mayer has thoroughly documented all of her findings and if she doesn't get a Pulitzer Prize for her work, there is no justice. You owe it to yourself to read the piece.

But, back to my original question: Why do Americans keep falling for this crap? Are we really that stupid? Don't we even have enough sense to look at the information that is being fed to us and wonder where it is coming from?

I remember a sociology professor that I once had, who, in talking about a unit on propaganda, told us, "Always consider whose ax is being ground." It was just another way of saying, "Follow the money." That will always lead you to the source and then you can decide whether that source has your interests at heart and whether you should believe and follow him.

I'm pretty sure that the only interests which the Kochs have at heart are Koch interests and I don't believe those coincide with mine or the country's. Unfortunately, the people who will continue to blindly follow them probably will not be reading the New Yorker.

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