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The Politics of Ignornace and Fear

1) 2:33 Radio essay MP3

2) 3:07 Radio essay MP3

The Politics of Ignorance & Fear

[col. writ. 5/17/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal


    As the presidential race inches toward November, it brings with it all kinds of detritus, flushed from the hidden psyche of millions.

    Politicians are used to representing the hopes of others: they're just as used to dashing those hopes against the hard walls of reality.

    For millions of women, the first real chance of a female president has excited their hopes, some pending for generations.  For millions of Black men and women, the first real chance of a Black president had excited their hopes, some deeply held for nearly a century.

    For most people, however, politics is the art of unrequited hope, for politicians promise the moon, and deliver star dust.

    There is, after all, a reason why millions of Americans are so cynical about politics, for they've learned that cynicism from the bitter well of experience.

    But consider these voices drawn from those we call the white working class; middle-aged Al and Evelyn Landsberg; he, a lifelong Republican who recently switched political parties, and was quoted as telling a Washington Post reporter recently that Sen. Hillary R. Clinton (D.-N.Y.) would get his vote, although she wasn't great.  Clinton was, however, a good deal better than her opponent, "you know, uh Embowa.  He'd take this country right down the tubes."

    His wife, Evelyn, cited data she gleaned from emails, saying, "From what I can tell, if he (Embowa?} becomes president he will refuse to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and we will leave Iraq unprepared."  She added, "I'm not going to sit at home and let that happen."*

    It's amazing to think that, several generations ago, millions of Blacks were denied the right to vote through bogus literacy tests, while millions of ignorant whites voted unhindered, by virtue of birthright.

    Politics is often seen and interpreted as, well, 'the will of the people.'  It is often described in lofty judicial decisions and thick political science texts as democracy in action--the People choosing their Government, and ultimately, the American 'way of life.'


    Yet, how much is simply unbridled ignorance?  How much is simply blind racial hatred?  How much is just plain silliness?

    And how much has this been force fed by the corporate media, which can almost beat a dead horse back to life?

    If the role of the media is merely to reinforce and buttress our collective ignorance, what can democracy mean?

    When ratings become the end-all, be-all of the corporate media, how can it be anything but a mad dash to a mass echo chamber, where ignorance is multiplied into mega ignorance, and wars become inevitable through rumor?

--(c) '08 maj

[*Source: Saslow, Eli, "Not Just Talking About Change: The Democrats have registered more than a million new voters in the last seven primary states, "Wash. Post, May 5-11, 2008 [Nat'l Wkly. Ed.], p.16]



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