I tend to keep my mouth shut on most things political, but yesterday’s fox-news inspired example of astroturfing is too much to pass up commenting on.
The idea, although laudable in principle, was not very well thought out. Basically you had Fox News pushing for individuals to protest excessive taxes and wasteful federal government spending by… Pause a beat… Spending wastefully on tea bags with which to protest. I suppose it was quite effective in how the event provided a centralized location for disgruntled republicans and forlorn conservatives to have a group whining session – sort of a cathartic emotional release. So from that angle, I see such venting sessions as positive for the greater American emotional wellbeing.
What disturbs me more than the Tea Party stunt is the real scaremongering going on via the FM airwaves here in Jackson, MS.
Anyone can unite others around anger. Its one of the easiest ways of eliciting emotion in others – play to anger, play to fear. Living in Mississippi, I hear the constant drone of fearmongering falsehoods - the chief of which sounds something like “Obama is going to take your guns.” I heard that very warning from SuperTalk 97.3 as I drove to work on election day back in November 2008. Such antics are baseless and are clearly intended to illicit fear in a mis-informed populace that frankly is looking for a fight with anything Federal. This is the station on which I heard callers phone in to lambast Trent Lott for being to liberal!
This morning I heard the same commentators rail against a Department of Homeland Security memo which alerted local governments to the chance of increased discontent and a possible upswing in right-wing extremest (paramilitary) action. Given our current economic mailaise and the historical precident of right-wing groups using economic dispair as an impetus to recruitment (1030′s Germany), I feel the alert probably is warranted. Not so says the SuperTalk 97.3 host; claiming that because the Tea Party was held yesterday, DHS was referring about the peaceful individuals that attended those events across the country. Clearly the DHS memo concerns existing right-wing extremest groups, not the nacent Fox News supported astroturf movement. The commentator’s message was that here was another example of the ‘Obama Regime’ attempting to disenfranchise ‘real Americans.’ I was told to watch out because Obama wants to take my guns and if I decided I wanted to talk about it, I would be labeled a right-wing extremest.
Mississippi: Washington is NOT looking to take your guns, and certainly isn’t worried about whether a conservative television station invents a raison de ‘etre for a few hundred forlorn individuals allowing them to express their anger and vent a little.