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Life Arts    H2'ed 1/22/14

Six Witch-hunts Inform The 'Age of Scapegoating'

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Ever reckon how future earthlings will sum up our whirling, unhinged, hyper-partisan dervish of an era?  Nix on "Golden Age," though even worst times ahead will inflate this era with a nostalgic glow. Forget "Renaissance" as one-third of our country considers classical, liberal humanism the menace. Too much fundamentalist shaking goin' on, let alone the onrushing Rapture. Even so, no "Age of Faith" either as church membership plummets and god-fearing fret over apathic children.

Surely "Age of Enlightenment" is out, first because the 18th C. bagged it and second, today's merciless scorn for evolution and climate change, let alone Birtherism, passion for capital punishment -- plus Rush Limbaugh still pontificates -- all speak to devolution, not wisdom. Okay, naysayers cling to doom and gloom and reprise the imminent "Dark Ages." But that term, which distorted lively medieval times, is out of sync with the flashy, electronics-bright Information Age. Ditto, naming our age after the dominant, global belief system (called science), the most palpable religion (reverence for technology) and, like it or now, the dominance of western, corporate capitalism.

No, to capture the modern spirit, especially the American narrative, a darker core emerges, thus my nomination: "Age of Scapegoating." Are our politics not obsessed with witch-hunting the innocent, providing base emotional releases through destructive rituals? Did not our latest scandal from the Christie administration prey on guiltless commuters locked down for the four-day, Fort Lee bridge calamity? Embracing every trend-setting scandal, scapegoating coughs up, especially for the right, a charade of greivances, sham justifications wingnut bigotry and defense of both heinous action or immoral inaction. Scapegoating, like sound bites, enhances fabricated, momentary crisis, thus obscuring all fundamental causes. To paraphrase Voltaire on God, "if scapegoats didn't exist, yahoos would have to invent them." 

Six Sacrifices Set the Stage

While injured groups qualify as modern prey (gay populations, Hispanic immigrants, non-violent Muslims, our poorest minorities, especially women with unwanted pregnancies, or Gulf fishermen first decimated, then demonized by BP's legal shenanigans, let's focus on the most historic and juiciest of ritualistic scapegoating.

1) Al Gore, the Winningest Loser: Yes, his presidential campaign faltered, but no good reason for the Supreme Court to whack his Florida plurality were all the votes counted. Thus kicked off the first big-name domestic sacrifice of the new century.  With a 500K plurality (that is, not even close), Gore symbolized also the first of many unspeakable blows that poisoned majority rule. No wonder Fate retorted with a president who impaled an entire generation. Performed with ritualistic precision over months, the theft of Gore's win anointed the forces of darkness. That Gore bounced back, as top environmentalist and famous rich person, does not discharge his unique status as the great scapegoat who won the vote but lost the chance to save America irreparably from Bush-Cheney.

 2) Millions Sacrificed by Wars Against Terrorism. Indeed, the subsequent enemies' crusade by this same vengeful, neocon swat team decimated entire civilian populations of innocents as "Islamic evil-doers." Nothing bespeaks scapegoating like dividing everyone as either "with us or against us." How many untried "Islamic terrorists" were/are still jailed in secret prisons? Drones that never touched Saudi Arabia, responsible for most 9/11 villains, serve the surgical witch-hunters. Certainly, Saddam Hussein was erroneously scapegoated for 9/11, non-existent WMDs or military assaults on the U.S., with or without mushroom clouds. Then exterminated. Was the separate Afghan Taliban not made equivalent, then crushed, in retribution against al Qaeda murderers? Never have two wars strategically scapegoated more millions guiltless of the source event across the globe? Were not good Americans also sacrificed on the fields of unwinnable wars?  Against our 10-15K killed, designated revenge ended up killing 100 million people, 98% of them because of bad geography and wrong ethnicity.

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For a decade, Robert S. Becker's rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, messaging and frameworks, now featured author at OpEdNews, Nation of Change and RSN. He appears regularly at Dissident Voice, with credits (more...)

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