Falling Through The Trap Door Of History
This week’s celebration of the life of Dr, Martin Luther King has seen the requisite images of the era of racial intolerance in the United States. As time passes, the images of KKK lynch mobs beggar the imagination even more.
Like the photos of Nazi soldiers shooting mothers and children or Pol Pot exterminations, they force us to ask, “How as humans did we get there? How were people able to hang their neighbours or shoot entire families with no thought of the moral consequence? How could we so throughly abandon empathy to debase humanity this way?”
The answer, in part, is that these grim moments are end points of a process, the negation of elements a community deems it cannot tolerate. For a Jim Crow bigot to slip a noose around the neck of a black person or a Waffen SS soldier to execute a mother and child or a commisar to starve millions they must first drop through a sequence of trap doors, experience a sequence of denials that reinforce their own purity and the evil of their victims.
So the KKK found a way to portray blacks as the architects of the South’s fall in the Civil War and Reconstruction. For the Nazis, the shivering Jews represented the denial of German destiny in WW I and the Weimar Republic. For the Soviets it was the oppression of the Czar.
Empathy collapsed, creating a void that unleashed the unspeakable (see: Venezuela). In the present we can intellectualize such depravity through the lens of history. But how do we interpret history as it’s made?
That’s why the cultural hysteria in America, Britain, France and other parts of the West are so ominous. Institutions of government and the press seem to have lost authority. In their wake a rough populist beast is slouching through social media toward chaos. “Why bother trying to persuade or convince your fellow citizens when you can simply make them into pariahs?” asks National Review.
In America, Barack Obama’s presidency represented the apogee of liberal justice. The ascendency of a black man to the White House seemed to show that the arc of moral justice was headed in the progressive direction of government dominance in society.
But for every American who embraced Obama’s “You didn’t build that business” there was an equal number who saw it as the negation of the American Constitutional individuality expressed in God, guns and self-reliance. Throughout the eight years of Obama their resentment of state control bubbled over.
Enter Trump, the anti-Obama elected to restore “stability”. Shocked progressive liberals announced a Resistance in the days after Trump’s stunning triumph. Unwilling to concede a rebuke from the other half of America the Left sought to harass, confound, undermine and demonize Trump.
They were joined by a large portion of the media who repeatedly fabricated stories to discredit POTUS 45 . The whiplash from his shocking election was such that, as were are learning, elements of the Obama administration and the Justice Department conspired to disqualify the 2016 results.
They were also joined by the wild card of social media which has supplanted our conventional media. For liberals who see Trump as the Liar and conservatives who see Obama as the Trickster, social media offers solace and inspiration. It’s a community of like-minded people who can demonize or praise in flash mobs.
Two stories from the past week illustrate the trap-door threat of social media in the hands of people manic about their vision. A video purporting to show white high-school students in MAGA hats mobbing a native American in Washington went viral. Quickly elements hostile to Trump (from both left and right) used the video to urge that one of the kids be punched in the face.
Others demanded they be expelled. Their own Catholic diocese in Kentucky talked of dire discipline. Hollywood types, NYT journalists and conservatives like Bill Kristol joined the dog pile.
Said National Review, which also joined the fray: “For an overheated few minutes, the world was rapt with revulsion at the sight of a group of smirking high-school boys — Catholic-school students, some in red “Make America Great Again” caps — menacing an older Native American man beating a drum as part of a protest in Washington, where the students were visiting as part of the annual March for Life.”
Then video emerged that obliterated the narrative of those who want to destroy TrumpWorld. The young men were rambunctious but not the demons of TDS fantasy. The young person in question was being respectful. A group extreme black agitators was, however hurling bigoted epithets at the kids as they waited for their bus.
Faced with Fake News many accusers had the grace to apologize.(https://goo.gl/tyeECZ) Others persisted in propping up their accusation. Others, like Kristol, erased their tweets without comment.
This came 48 hours after many of the same actors were similarly sucked in by another bogus story meant to force Trump’s resignation. A Buzzfeed story alleged it had evidence that Trump had suborned perjury from his former lawyer Michel Cohen. That produced another vicious dog pile on social media.
MSM spent a day “what iffing” a story it could not prove, frothing in anticipation at finally having the instrument of Trump’s destruction. It was a hate party that only ended when Robert Mueller’s office issued a rare declaration: The story was unfounded.
You could hear the crashing noise as narratives around DC collapsed. Again, faced with facts, some apologized, others prevaricated and others still stopped talking about their complicity. What was unequivocal was the unquenchable appetite for destroying Trump, his family and the Americans who’s elected him via mob rule.
And the power of social media lynchings, where people say, why bother trying to persuade or convince your fellow citizens when you can simply make them into pariahs?
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the publisher of his website Not The Public Broadcaster He’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also a best-selling author whose new book Cap In Hand: How Salary Caps Are Killing Pro Sports And Why The Free Market Could Save Them is now available.