By Preston King
Special to AfriGeneas
At independence, in 1956, Ghana’s slogan was: ‘Forward ever, Backward Never!’ We expect to improve on the past. We hope to add to what the parental generation leaves. Though we are right to aspire to moral progress, these days, in so many ways, hope is confounded. We are moving backwards.
One of the best things America ever did was to elect a new president in 08. This man is not absolved from criticism. His excellence lies precisely in qualities of flexibility and receptiveness. And every American’s voice should be heard in the ongoing debate. But Obama has not been subject to criticism, properly speaking.
Rational critique presupposes transparency, openness, reciprocity, mutuality, respect for the other, a design not only to show error, but to accept one may be in error. The criticism directed at the President is mostly none of that. It is carping, distorted, personal. It disrespects the man, is indifferent to the facts, and (worst of all) is mounted with passionate intensity. Take one of the sorriest offenders.
Mike Savage, talk-show host, with large national audience, broadcasts from San Francisco. He is radically anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian; detests gays; hasn’t much time for women, especially feminists. He was and is for the war on Iraq. He thinks most people rubbish. Inflating himself as patriot, he drowns in jingoism (as frequently with insecure sons of migrants).
Mike has a snarling antipathy to blacks, especially those with left-wing or nationalist views. He was badly hurt by unhappy encounters with militants in his youth; meaning… what goes around comes around. Mike’s whole life became a crusade for what he calls ‘conservatism’, which he takes as mankind’s coherent, Final Solution.
When Mike turns to the new president, he hammers with spittle and spite. The spleen is bottomless. This week Mike rages on, calling the President a ‘fascist’, ‘Stalinist’, ‘devious’, ‘phony’, ‘a bullshit artist’, ‘megalomaniac’, ‘narcissist’, ‘wise guy’, ‘goof ball’, ‘maniac’, ‘out of control’, ‘huckster’, etc.
Mike ‘thinks’ the president should and will be impeached. He wants the president out and wants to help oust him. Mike has no respect for listeners, even when they agree. And, of course, Mike disrespects his targets.
Mike is not then a critic. He is a master of howling, Savage contempt. Mike doth spike persons, not policies. He stokes revulsion among his listeners towards those he targets.
Mike is not alone. He is legion. He is a leaf in the wind, reflecting our country’s backward drift. Progressive people are hobbled. If they respond similarly to the loud-mouth, Mike, they become him. So Savages proliferate – on air and in society at large. Lobbyists hustle anarchically. Wall Street, the banks, the financial markets obstinately resist regulation in search of gain. Chinua Achebe wrote: ‘Things Fall Apart’.
Individuals become more steadfastly egotistical. Persons and groups retreat into the Laager of the self. We yearn to obliterate difference. Across multiple divides, we speak less and less. We talk loudly, without conversing. Blogs fill the ether: Instapundit, Wonkette, Michelle Malkin, etc. Few are checked by inconvenient facts. We grow used to feeding on fear… Such is the burden of Jonathan Simon’s new book, Governing through Crime.
Cass Sunstein, professor of law at Harvard, correctly nails the tendency in his own new book, Going to Extremes, arguing that “enclaves of like-minded people are a breeding ground for extreme movements”. That is where we are now with talk-radio, almost all of it is right-wing, talking angrily and insistently to itself.
In despair, we cannot always turn the other cheek. But contrary to what many suppose, the wider public does have an answer, summed up thus:
‘Take the Mike Out of the Mouths of Savages!
You don’t have to take this anymore!’
Who pays for Mike and his like? Corporate America. Who advertises with the Savages? Goodyear. Michelin. Comcast. Mercedes-Benz. To draw the venom from our society, start drawing your money from corporate sponsors of Savagery.
To adapt Nancy Reagan, Just say NO! But please tell your masters why.