Thursday, July 17, 2008

When the hysteria enters the ridiculous

I do give credit to Leonard Pitts, jr. He managed to put a finger on a nation in which, those who claim to be Christian in a "Christian nation," have decidedly un-Christian attitudes toward Senator Barack H. Obama. Those who proclaim "conservatism" also prove just how much they tie such thinking in with bigotry. That is surely the only reason why I see letters to the editor making public why the author thinks Obama is a (pick one:) Muslim, Socialist, he went to church but he is a closet Muslim, he is a radical thinker based on Rev. Wright's teachings, his fist bumping his wife is a "terrorist gesture," he managed to subtly "flip off" Senator Clinton. And get this, most of this hysteria came from the news media itself. The news media, far from just reporting the news, bought into whispering campaigns by e-mail, circulating Obama photos in tribal clothing, no flag pin, etc. Which brings us to crappy political cartoons, from say Michael Ramirez to Glenn McCoy, and a not so thought provoking attack on Obama from Signe Wilkenson depicting him as "crying" over a New Yorker magazine cover.

Which satire was the New Yorker applying? The one that directly attacked Obama? It wouldn't be the first or only time. Or was it holding up a mirror to the persistent fear created by the zanies at Fox News where innocent gestures could be warped into something gruesome. With the satire of the cover exposing hate against a man with dark skin and a Middle Eastern name, probably the biggest firestorm came not from the Obama campaign where it was recognized that the New Yorker had first amendment rights to publish what it choose (Hat tip: a poster at Huckleberries online); but rather from the news media, such as CNN, proclaiming just how "righteous" they were in describing such a cover as outrageous. Wasn't that the intent? But in the months before then, when it looked like the news media wanted to see Senator Clinton as the presumptive Dem nominee for the U.S. presidency, they, including CNN spread about the outrageous, the ridiculous, because they were absolutely opposed to seeing the scary black guy win. Obama posed a threat to their comfort zone, to be sure. And to be sure as well, Obama running for president exposed the naked hatred that can engulf the citizens of this nation. A hatred that was allowed full play in the news media itself.

So, the only question that I would have for Pitts, the e-mailer in his republished to the Spokesman-Review editorial, did the author recognize the irony of the situation in proclaiming that the New Yorker had for the first time gotten it right? I believe it did, but perhaps not in the way the author might have intended. Because I am not beyond recognizing satire. But neither would I consider myself to be ignorant nor stupid, so much so as to not recognize it when I see it. A cartoon is not to be taken literally, unless the author literally demonstrates that is how he would have his work interpreted. In the case of the New Yorker, their beautifully drawn front page cartoons, were always about a joke, satire, irony. In the case of Glenn McCoy, an ugly hatchet job. In the case of Ramirez, what I think of you if you don't agree with my world view. Perhaps Pitts had it right that the e-mailer had reached the point of the extreme, the outright hysterical, that he could take a satire and assume it was literally true. Of what this nation was endanger of should it put Obama in office. What the e-mailer in question would have forgotten is that the guy who really should have a pic of Osama in his office is the guy who saw his presidency rescussitated in its first term, and exploited Osama bin Laden heavily in 2004.

If a flag burns in the oval office, then it is because Congress passed a law at presidential urging to update the FISA law to where one doesn't need a warrant or a court of law to presume that Americans are terrorists. The flag got burned because of the literal removing from the Bill of Rights an important right in the judicial process for Americans. For what should the flag wave, if not for this? —Political cartoon: GW wanted the FISA law so that he could listen for trouble (terrorists). He got an earful. But not of "terrorism" trouble but rather of economic trouble. I can think of one silver lining in such a cloud, GW for the first time could not remain long oblivious to the troubles of the nation. Because those economic troubles of home foreclosures, job losses, etc. are at what is after all the top of the list for voters. Osama bin Laden is a distant problem.

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