Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Lynching Obama" Tweet Justification

Fundamentalism is one of the greatest threats to democracy, undermining one of the most important aspects of popular sovereignty – the ability to dialogue and debate the key issues of our time. Today we find far too many on the right and, to a lesser extent, left who have completely insolated themselves from anyone and everyone who disagrees with them. There have always been ideologues tone deaf to any idea that challenges their central tenets but it appears the proportion of the populace currently suffering from this ailment has dramatically increased in recent years.
One recent example exemplifies the problem quite well. A man posted a photoshopped image of President Obama with a noose around his neck, his eyes shut and his neck apparently broken. This elicited a visit from the Secret Service, him being fired from his job and a huge negative backlash from the twittersphere. His reaction? He told MPR News, in a recent email response, “My only regret is being called racist when my opinion of the president has more to do with [Obama] being a communist as opposed to being black.” (NPR) Few want to be labeled racist these days, even when they clearly are, but he indirectly seems to be arguing that it is okay to lynch Communists. And what, exactly, about Obama can even be labeled Communist?

Plato wrote of the Big Lie, as a way to control the unruly masses (in their interest, it should be noted), and many on the Left referenced Leo Strauss as an advocate of the strategy when the Bush administration was in power. It was most obviously used by the Nazis in their rise to power, but has been employed by governments throughout history. Yet the new “Big Lies” are coming from right wing blogs and Fox News and far too many uncritically accept these claims and then boil into a frenzy to destroy these perceived demons of the left. Similar trends exist on the left, though in a more muted form and without the racist undertones. In either cases, the new political insularity is a threat as great as the rampant cynicism of the young and one that we must struggle to eradicate if we are to save ourselves from becoming a true Plutocracy in the near future. We don’t need to lynch the metaphoric lynchers as much as remove the noose from a public sphere that stirs up such absurdly retrograde ideas.

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