Hate in the heartland: America is stumbling towards disaster one virulent tweet at a time
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. He is the author of 'Midnight in the American Empire,' How Corporations and Their Political Servants are Destroying the American Dream. @Robert_Bridge
Everywhere you look these days it seems that the American people, rallying themselves around the latest cause célèbre, are at each other’s throats. In fact, we may be the only nation in the world that is more united by what divides us as opposed to what brings us together.
Rallied to action (and distraction) by a handful of omnipotent media outlets, Americans find themselves identifying with non-stop social outbursts like the #MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter, LGBT, and of course the showdown of the century between conservatives and liberals ever since Donald Trump entered the White House.
Meanwhile, in the eternal quest to hunt down the source of our discontent, some have even started to point the finger of blame at men, specifically white men. Yes, thanks to their so-called 'white privilege’ and ‘toxic masculinity,’ white males in America are slowly displacing even Russia as the primary source of our tears and travails. Want a second opinion? Good luck with that.
Thanks to the noxious cloud of political correctness that has descended upon the landscape like tear gas, it is becoming almost impossible to flesh out alternative thoughts and ideas. This is evidenced by the latest trend among university students, many of whom would rather wreck their manicured campuses than expose their fragile minds to debate and dialogue.
Such an oppressive, borderline-fascist climate that seeks to snuff out democratic debate sets the stage for more hate down the road. That much was evident last week when a group of students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, which just happened to be Washington, D.C. at the height of ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome’ (TDS).
Here’s the abridged version of the story based on a lengthy video of the event: This group of exuberant students, while waiting for a bus near the Lincoln Memorial, managed to attract the unwanted attention of members of an niche religious group that calls itself Black Hebrew Israelites.
As the Black Hebrew Israelites began to hurl insults at the Catholic students, Nathan Phillips, a Native Indian who had also been subjected to verbal abuse by the group’s members, walked straight between the two groups in an effort to defuse the situation while beating a traditional drum and chanting.
Now keep in mind that the mainstream media was about to pounce on this story with great gusto. Yet, their reporting would only begin at the moment when Phillips and Catholic student Nick Sandmann came face-to-face.
The student, donning a ‘Make America Great Again’ cap, can be seen grinning at the Native Indian, who continues to bang on his drum and sing. This was the dramatic ‘showdown.’ For anyone who has been following the toxic, one-sided media reporting on all things related to Donald Trump, you can probably guess where this story is heading. Not for a Pulitzer, that’s for sure. However, I must admit that I was not fully prepared for exactly how bad things would get.
Despite the fact that there was an entire cast of dubious characters starring in this lively street drama, the media singled out the young white Catholic student sporting a MAGA hat for vilification. Again, no surprises there.
The next day, the New York Times was out of the gate with the story, yet it never bothered to interview Sandmann, the student at the center of this controversy for his views. Instead, the Times was content to describe“an unsettling encounter outside the Lincoln Memorial — a throng of cheering and jeering high school boys, predominantly white and wearing “Make America Great Again” gear, surrounding a Native American elder.”
What happened next was truly ugly and underscores everything that is wrong with American society today.
Once word of the ‘altercation’ between the student and the Native Indian was made public, the social media warriors, forever on standby with their sense of self-righteousness and unwavering morals, set upon the Catholic students with so much vitriol, violence and toxic idiocy it would have made a medieval Inquisitor blush in shame.
Reza Aslan, for example, a former CNN analyst and – I’m not kidding – a religious activist, suggested physical violence against the student. Unfortunately, there were dozens of other calls for aggression, which became so concerning that Covington Catholic High School was forced to close for a day.
Honest question. Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s? pic.twitter.com/jolQ7BZQPD— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) January 20, 2019
A writer for Buzzfeed, which had just been trounced days earlier for publishing fake news about Trump, portrayed the showdown as symptomatic of ‘white patriarchy,’ tweeting a photo of Nick Sandmann alongside Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court judge who was wrongfully accused of rape during his nomination process.
One theme of the conversations over the past 24 hours = how deeply familiar this look is. It's the look of white patriarchy, of course, but that familiarity — that banality — is part of what prompts the visceral reaction. This isn't spectacular. It's life in America. pic.twitter.com/TmziDwAjYA— Anne Helen Petersen (@annehelen) January 21, 2019
Thankfully, a few journalists came out of the wilderness and admitted, like Caitlin Flanagan in the Atlantic, that the media had “botched the story so completely that they have lost the authority to report on it.”
However, we must take such confessions with a grain of salt. The media beat a retreat on the story for one reason: it was caught red-handed pushing a story that was, for all intent and purposes, yet another hit job on Trump.
Unbeknownst to them, the Black Hebrew Israelites had filmed the episode in its entirety, which proved that none of the wild accusations hurled against the Catholic youth rang true. Had that highly-revealing video not been made, the groundless media attacks on those boys – who have had their reputations dragged through the mud – would be continuing today. This begs the question: How many other stories have journalists botched over the years?
Meanwhile, the problem with social media in such situations cannot be casually dismissed. Once again, users piled onto the story with great abandon, displaying their dogged allegiance to a corporate media complex that has been known to fudge facts on behalf of an agenda – think the Iraq War or Russiagate – on many occasions.
Victor Davis Hanson, a historian at the Hoover Institution, shed some light on how this phenomenon is helping to make hate in the US go mainstream.
“The Internet and social media often descend into an electronic lynch mob,” Hanson wrote. “In a nanosecond, an insignificant local news story goes viral. Immediately hundreds of millions of people use it to drum up the evils or virtues of either progressivism or conservatism.”
Pay attention to the journalists and outlets who are acknowledging their mistakes in the #CovingtonCatholic affair, and those who are doubling-down on demonizing kids. Follow/support the former, abandon the latter. We get the media we deserve.— Sarah Haider (@SarahTheHaider) January 22, 2019
It is truly the ultimate paradox: at a time when the US, like other modern countries, enjoy all the benefits of communication technologies, the subtle art of communication has gone missing from the equation.
People no longer understand how to hold a rational conversation. Social media users have become savvy at crafting short and snarky comments, but utter failures when it comes to listening to any voice that did not originate in their heads.
Instead, flags are raised and separate camps declared; traitors to the cause are unfriended and blocked; verbal incendiaries are lobbed from these guarded positions, while the level of hate continues to climb towards breaking point. The center won't hold under such conditions.
Listening to the other side requires wisdom, patience and in some cases admitting that you are wrong. Sadly and potentially tragically, few Americans are prepared to concede their mistakes, and that will only guarantee more wanton aggression and hate against innocents in the future.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.