Thursday, August 27, 2015

Parallel Universe

Like most I watched the murder on TV of the young journalists of WDBJ7, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, as they were gunned down by a former employee of the station in the middle of filming a benign Chamber of Commerce interview.  I was, like most everyone else, incredulous that one human being could commit such a heinous act to two innocents and ones who were at one time his co-workers.  The fact that Bryce Williams (the shooter) also seriously wounded a third person who was the person being interviewed should not be lost.

We can strum and drang all we like as we do after so many other bestial killings testament to man’s inhumanity to man to which our nation has borne witness or we can go deeper and try to figure out why our nation is stuck on channel haywire or is it?
 
The science of theoretical physics entertains the notion of living in a parallel universe.  The dual natures within the universe of our nation has been evident to me for quite some time.  I grew up in the “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver” nation, gained maturity in “The Other America” and “The Autobiography of Malcom X one.  I further aged in “The Arrogance of Power” and “Why We Are in Vietnam” one and even further encountering Rachel Maddow’s book “Drift—The Unmooring of American Military Power” an indictment of the inaction of the electorate and the eventual thrust into permanent war fought technologically by just those few who volunteer.  Essentially the electorate has given war power over to few and the many who will never fight it acquiesce to its violence.

There are two national universes in my sight.  One kindly occupied by those who help elderly ladies across the street; the kind and benevolent one whose tears flow easily at tragedy and whose first impulse is to help.  The one whose president John F. Kennedy said so eloquently “to whom much is given much is required.” 

I come, though, to the never ending violence in our land, violence in our films, violence on our televisions, and violence in the plethora of war we see from the comfort of our living rooms but most never have to fight.  We see the violence of a malevolent NRA which even in the face of the murder of 26 CHILDREN fights hard for its almighty buck against even federal background checks as a prerequisite to owning a gun to stop at least some of the gun mayhem in our land of 310 million guns. 
 
Finally, I see a Donald Trump whose mouth invites the forces of hate to align with him.  He insults continuously the most powerless among us and our news media finds his spewing so much fun they cover him nearly 24/7 while the violence in our land increases still.  American Nationalists of the most extreme right wing stripe including some hate notables as former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke and others gladly give him their support Trump says he does not want but I have no doubt he will take their vote.  It shows one just who loves Donald Trump and finds a home in the Republican Party.
 
Something violent is wrong in our nation but not everyone is at fault.  Let us harness what is kind, right and good in our nation, help those who cannot help themselves and defeat the powerful forces of violence and hate that has occupied so much of our history while we still have a remnant of democracy left.  We should do it before the hour is too late.

"Enough Is Enough" -- NYT by Charles Blow

When Donald Trump’s security escorted the Univision anchor Jorge Ramos out of a news conference on Tuesday, I decided that I was officially done.

Maybe I should have been long before that.

Maybe I should have been done the one and only time I met Trump and his first words to me were a soliloquy about how black people loved him, and he was the most popular white man among black people.

Maybe I should have been done when Trump demanded to see the president's birth certificate.

Maybe I should have been done any number of times over the years when Trump made any number of racist, sexist comments.


Earlier this month, Politico rounded up 199 of his greatest — and vilest — hits. Here are just a few from the magazine:

9. “I have black guys counting my money. … I hate it. The only guys I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes all day.” (USA Today, May 20, 1991)


23. “Oftentimes when I was sleeping with one of the top women in the world I would say to myself, thinking about me as a boy from Queens, ‘Can you believe what I am getting?’ ” (“Think Big: Make it Happen in Business and Life,” 2008)

32. “… she does have a very nice figure. I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” (ABC’s “The View,” March 6, 2006)

35. “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?” (Twitter, April 16, 2015)

117. “Rosie’s a person that’s very lucky to have her girlfriend. And she better be careful or I’ll send one of my friends over to pick up her girlfriend. Why would she stay with Rosie if she had another choice?” (“Entertainment Tonight,” Dec. 21, 2006)


121. Arianna Huffington is “a dog.” (Twitter, April 6, 2015)
Need I go on? (Thanks, Politico!)

Maybe I should have been done when Trump announced his candidacy this year with an attack on Mexican immigrants, saying:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best — they’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems … drugs … crime … rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

The Ramos episode wasn’t worse than these; it was just the last straw. A member of the media who dared to raise a truly substantive issue, even out of turn, was dismissed and removed. And yet the band played on. The live coverage continued. In that moment, I was disgusted at Trump’s contempt and the press’s complicity in the shallow farce that is his candidacy. Trump is addicted to press, but the press is also addicted to him, and the entire spectacle is wide and shallow.

(Ramos was allowed back in and permitted to ask his question. I had to see this later, because when he was ejected, I stopped watching.)

Yes, the Republican Party created this Frankenstein of hatred, hubris, narcissism and nativism, but the media is giving it life.

The never-ending, exhaustive, even breathless coverage of every outrage that issues forth from this man’s mouth is not news. Every offense and attack is not news. 


Every morning that Trump rolls out of bed and calls in to a news show is not news.

Covering a political phenomenon as news is one thing. See the coverage of Bernie Sanders. Creating a political phenomenon and calling it news is quite another. 


Trump's prominence is the direct result of the American media's obsession with the egotistical and bizarre personalities of our society.

If the "press" had a backbone, I would have expected all (or most) of them to have left the room along with Mr. Ramos in solidarity.

I reasoned in a 2010 column that Sarah Palin was no longer an elected official and wasn’t seeking elected office, and was therefore not worthy of constant attacks. But more important, the attacks were elevating her profile, not diminishing it. As I wrote:

“This is it. This is the last time I’m going to write the name Sarah Palin until she does something truly newsworthy, like declare herself a candidate for the presidency. Until then, I will no longer take part in the left’s obsessive-compulsive fascination with her, which is both unhealthy and counterproductive.”

I kept that promise. The only other time she appeared by name in one of my columns was in a passing reference to her speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2013. This column is only the second reference.

The same is true of Trump. The constant harping on him only helps him. He is different from Palin in 2010, however. He is not only running for office, he’s leading in the polls among Republican candidates. He can’t be ignored. But coverage is not the same as drooling over the daily shenanigans of a demagogue.

I will cover Trump as he addresses issues with specific policy prescriptions and details, like answers to the question Ramos asked.

Until then, this man is not worthy of the attention he’s garnering. We in the media have to own our part in this. We can’t say he’s not serious and then cover him in a way that actually demonstrates that we are not serious.

Is he an easy target for righteous criticism? Of course he is. But is he aware that criticism from the mainstream media is invaluable among certain segments of the political right? Of course he is. Is he also aware that he’s getting more free publicity for being outrageous than he would ever be willing to buy? Of course he is.

The media is being trolled on a massive scale and we look na├»ve and silly to have fallen for it, even if he draws readers and viewers. When people refer to the press as the fourth estate, it shouldn’t be confused with a Trump property.

Allow me to share one more of Trump’s quotes from Politico:

89. “My brand became more famous as I became more famous, and more opportunities presented themselves.” (Amazon.com, 2007)