Segregation has been the cause of a lot of civil unrest in this country. So it should be no surprise that it could cause more. What is surprising is that this time it’s basically segregation by choice; this is a group of people convinced that they are being dangerously repressed, though they are not. And a large part of the convincing would have been achieved by a systematic campaign by conservative media outlets to pound the meta message that the plurality of America, the “Real Americans” – the white, Christian, rural, small town and suburban-dwelling caricatures of what America really looks like on TV™ – are under attack by an unholy, America-hating hydra whose heads are, to name a few: illegals, gays, the government, abortionists, Muslims, socialists (or fascists, because apparently there is no need for a distinction in the realm of irrational ad hominimism). And now, though not for the first time of course, another head of the hydra is the President.
“As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education — it gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality,” said Oklahoma Republican state Sen. Steve Russell. “This is something you’d expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.”
It appears that the far right have officially decided to voluntarily segregate themselves from the rest of the country. This is an ideological manifestation that is causing a segment of our populace to distrust anyone who doesn’t look like them. It can be as benign as a steadfast, damn-the-facts, science-denying, government is bad, give or take a dash of “values voter” indignance. Or it can be a more threatening version: Armed to the teeth, sometimes fundamentalist but definitely militarist, waiting for the day the government comes and tries to take their weapons; convinced that day is soon.
Either way, these are “voters subject to non-rational persuasion.” And they have their own media to do the persuading. And the traditional media aren’t helping, either. This isn’t a problem that will fade away quickly or easily, and the signs that we have crossed a threshold are evident: People showing up to presidential events openly carrying weapons; fistfights and other outright violence regularly breaking out at congressional town hall meetings; a dauntingly steady stream of right wing domestic terrorism; and most importantly, the simultaneously indifferent and sensationalist coverage of it all by almost every facet of the traditional media. Read this AP article. notice the tone – just a regular news story about normal, concerned Americans who think the president is trying to brainwash their children. With one speech. Because now even listening once to someone with whom you don’t agree could cause permanent brain damage. Think of the children! You see how America really is? This is just normal! It’s normal for a state senator to accuse the president of the kind of despotism “you’d expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq,” without the news outlet attempting to put that into perspective.
It’s normal for people to hide behind a wall of ignorance and spew falsehoods for the press to blithely repeat to the public as if it’s fact. It appears that the voluntary segregators are an integral part of the grand traditional media created reality show that is America™. Sure, there will be some yelling, maybe a little violence – it’s great for ratings. But this pot probably can’t take too much more stirring until it boils over, and that’s when things truly, and disturbingly, get real.