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Agonistic Breathing

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The fascination with Jerimiah Wright has to do with the phenomenon of the holy fool--the one person who, because he wears motley and behaves in a silly manner, is permitted to speak the truth to the king so that the rest of us can remain silent and retain our heads.
 
Virtually all Americans know that virtually all of what Wright says is true. I doubt that any of us have escaped at least the passing suspicion that HIV was discovered and released by some Mengele-wannabe in South Africa in the 70s as a final solution to "the black problem," or by some Gerstecter in some deep, dark CIA lab to snuff out IV drug users or homosexuals. Such things have been the plots of movies for years ("Outbreak" is one example, "13 Monkeys" another).
 
Those of us who have been paying attention know that 9/11 was payback for American adventures in the Middle East. In the eyes of the people living there, we have infected their culture with pornography, religious doubt, and far worse. This has been repeated time and again by commentators on the Middle East crisis and the "crusade" against terrorism (terrorism by Arabs on the West, I mean; terrorism by the West on the Arabs is still celebrated and generously funded).
 
Anyone who has been paying attention knows that when Dr. Wright said "Goddamn America," he was quoting someone, not expressing his own beliefs.
 
I think Dr. Wright's comments have been repeated forever because certain people in certain circles expect they will cripple Obama in his run for the nomination. And certain others in other circles expect it will make him unelectable, if nominated. But that is not what comes through to tube into the news-consumer's brain in the living rooms of the nation.
 
Most news consumers wonder what the hubbub, flapdoodle, ado, and bruhaha is about. Except for the fact that Wright is a fiery speaker and currently has command of the normally deficit national attention, he is speaking aloud and publicly what most of us have felt or thought, and many of us have said in private.
 
We in flyover country who are bitter and know we are bitter (or pissed on and know we are pissed off), we who cling to our God and our guns because there is aught else out there to believe in or cling to--even those of us who pray, amongst the smells of gun oil and molten lead, and still resent the stereotype we are living up to (or down to), entertain these same thoughts:

If the government had a virus that would selectively kill union organizers or out-of-work factory rats, would they hesitate to spray it over crowds of strikers?
 
If the government had a virus that would selectively kill those troublesome people who demand that their religious beliefs be respected, wouldn't they put it in our holy    water and baptismal fonts?
 
If the government abused the Protestants or the Catholics the way they have abused the Sunnis on one country or the Shiites in another (using them as we used Iraq as a buffer against the Shiite Crescent; or as we used them in Afghanistan to give the USSR a black eye), would the Baptists or Catholics meekly stand by and watch, or would they rise up one Tuesday morning and make a grand, tragic gesture to make it stop? Ask the people of Northern Ireland if Catholics and Protestants are capable of terrorism, planting bombs, and participating in mutual destruction over religious matters.
 
The media and the racists who run it are trying to enflame racial hatred and distrust by putting Wright on a continuous loop. It's just one more example of the media being two generations behind the people. We know better. If anyone has been affected by it, it was likely a person who would not vote for Obama anyway. If, as in times gone by, the three networks and the one paper most consumers could access in most markets determined what we knew or believed about our government and our history, it might work. We owe a huge debt to the Internet blogs and progressive radio and the slow infiltration of the echo chamber by people like Rachel Maddow and Stephanie Miller. At last we have, even on Fox and MS-NBC, voices that put events into context and treat right wing talking points to the smell- and giggle-test, revealing even to the world of Fox viewers how rancid and silly these things are.
 
We, as individuals can do more, however, and here's how: When you see an article that expresses your own views, don't hesitate to quote it in a letter to the editor of your local paper. If you are too shy to have your name in print, then begin an email correspondence with some or all of your local television anchors and producers. They're busy people and all they have time to pursue is what comes over the AP wire and the stories pitched around the daily meeting to figure out which stories to follow. We can be
helpful to them by illuminating local problems with national stories that aren't being covered adequately on cable news, network news, or the fishwrap the local press has become.
 
If you know of a march or a demonstration or a speaker, remember that the publicists for these things might not have the time to cover all the news outlets with press releases. You can help by reminding the news teams in your area. Give them a few facts to hang a story from, be enthusiastic and informative, and do it consistently so they will know that your name in their inbox means they've just received an idea for a story that will translate well to video. (People who walk those picket lines and speak to reporters, it's up to you to make sure your crowds look like America and are colorful and attractive enough to demand a few seconds of airtime and that your comments are quotable and sound bite rich.)
 
Progressives have changed the face of Congress and will probably change the posture of the Senate in November. We will change the White House in an historic way, no matter who our candidate is. We have launched several networks of progressive news and comment. We have sunk our roots deep into the fetid clod of manure the media has become and we are drawing sustenance from it as we grow stronger and more vibrant.
 
 The endless repetition of Dr. Wright's comments is the media equivalent of agonistic breathing--the reflex of an organism on death's door, even if brain dead, to cling to life by using the one function of which it is still capable. It's a terrible, dramatic thing to see.
 
 It's a great time to be an activist.

 

Adherent to the cowboy way, eschewer of four-letter words and dental care, founder of the hippie movement, and failed prospector, Gabby Hayes can be counted upon to point and say, "They went thataway," and to develop plans to cut them off at the (more...)
 
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