On Facebook (FB) recently, someone reposted a Tweet by a woman voicing her concern over Muslims coming into the country. Behind her concern was anger or perhaps hatred that she couldn’t have come to the anger on her own. She did not want Sharia (“sania law”) law to influence our culture and advised Muslims who won’t give it up to go back to the “dessert.” The reposting of the Tweet seemed to expose her illiteracy and for that reason an opportunity for FB “friends” to discount her opinion or to highlight a relationship between illiteracy and her opinion. The comments posted on FB in response to the reposting seemed to express both while also finding pleasure in ridiculing her.
I mention this episode because the people ridiculing seemed to think of themselves as “in the know.” Perhaps they were liberals or progressives. Their teasing remarks would have bordered on bullying if the angry woman had seen any of them. However, what is disturbing to me is that they were doing exactly what the woman tweeting was doing: Looking down upon another group, separating themselves from that group that is very close to their station. Never mind the illogical thinking; never mind the emotional immaturity.
The focus on “have-nots” distracts us from what is important. And we have all caught ourselves taking part, even if we merely find the posts or reposts amusing. Delineating a line between our group that has only marginally greater status than another lower group is why solidarity and change can’t happen in this “democracy.” In fact, the group at the very top loves these divisions below them because the divisions mean that the top group will remain safe. I am willing to bet that the 1% seeks to devise ways to encourage our practice of keeping our heads bent down.
Progressives have wondered at the working poor’s anger at the destitute because the destitute get food stamps or other assistance. Progressives have wondered at the working poor who are only a paycheck away from these folks and yet vote for conservative candidates. (The destitute don’t vote at all. They know that they have no voice, no representation, so why bother.) Progressives have been looking down to delineate. We need to stop delineating beneath groups.
If we were to look up (and not down) and direct our concern and anger there, we would be on target and change could happen. Inequity that makes all our lives more and more miserable didn’t simply happen by chance. The class warfare was waged while the mass media was convincing the population for 50 years that there was no class warfare. On so many fronts, the wealthy are benefitting from government welfare. The cost of government regulations and laws and the programs and subsidies make the total cost of the programs for the poor a pittance.
Social media can be a tool for rhetorical strategies. The 99% should learn how to use it effectively to better our lot. We could then let go of taking pleasure at the misfortunes of others below us in order that we might then turn around and offer alms. Of course those alms also make us feel good about our station in life. If we are so smart, let’s learn how to use the tool of social media to organize: The poor, military personnel, police, the working poor, that woman who can’t spell, you, and me. We need each other to understand what we are up against and organize against it, unless of course we secretly like things just the way they are.
Impossible? Lawrence Wilkerson (Republican), retired United States Army Colonel and former Chief of Staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, urges the following: “The American people or at least a substantial powerful minority of them, hopefully a powerful majority of them are going to have to get sick and tired of this [empire and oligarchy]. They're going to have to get angry about it, and they're going to have to take action. That's the only thing that I see as a way to salvage this republic before it sinks completely. We are going to have to have a very powerful minority or hopefully as I said a majority 51% 52% who actually stand up on their hind legs and say ‘I've had it!’ This isn't gonna happen anymore!” He even suggested revolution may be needed, echoing Bill Moyer, Lawrence Lessig, Tom Engelhardt, Pope Francis, and many others. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOagQ_nfCes