Sunday, September 11, 2016

259.4 - More media failure

More media failure

I have on a number of occasions described the US public as being uninformed, malinformed, and misinformed by our major news media.

Part of that malformation is the choices as to what drives coverage. Some years back a cousin of mine said that it didn't matter what the media said because she thought what she thought, not what she was told to think. I responded that yes, it is true that the media cannot easily control what you think but it does have a significant degree of control over what you think about, what is and isn't important, what does and doesn't merit attention. That sort of control of the agenda often can control the outcome.

It is with that in mind that I bring up this next story.

A 24-year-old anti-government 9/11 truther named Bryce Cuellar has been arrested and charged with making terrorist threats in a video that was posted on YouTube.

In the 15-minute clip, Cuellar showed off two rifles - AR-15-style gun and a sniper rifle - and was wearing a military flak vest and night vision goggles.

Bryce Cuellar
In the video, he says that he is tired of the government trying to take away his First and Second Amendment rights, that he cannot wait to use his guns "as the Founding Fathers intended," that he wants to kill "gays, faggots, lesbians, and satanists," and claims to be a "Christian warrior." Cuellar also says that he is tired of America and would begin killing soon.

Okay, so here is the question: Outside of the Las Vegas area, that being where Cuellar lived before he was arrested, the only major news outlet coverage I could find on this after using two different news aggregators was at the NY Daily News and the Daily Mail, which is a published in the UK.

What do you think the coverage would have been if - with everything else, every word, exactly the same, but instead of being Bryce Cuellar he was, I don't know, Ahmed Muhammed and instead of calling himself a Christian warrior he called himself a warrior for Allah? What do you think would have been the coverage then? Do you think this would have just gone right down the memory hole? Do you think it would have been ignored coast to coast?

But oh, no, we aren't supposed to be afraid of right-wing terrorists, we aren't supposed to be afraid of domestic fascist terrorists, we aren't supposed to be afraid of the people who live their lives in fantasies of the moon landing being a hoax staged by the Illuminati and no I am not kidding and dream of using their AR-15s and AK-47s "as the founding fathers intended," we aren't supposed to be afraid of those for who Orlando was cause for celebration.

Oh no, we're supposed to spend all our time and energy being afraid of anything that can be labeled "radical Islam" even if it isn't, because that is the agenda being pushed by the state, that is the agenda that most serves the interests of the powerful, so that is the agenda that gets advanced by our mass media, which has long since chosen the role of stenographer to power over the far nobler one of, in a slight misquote from Mr. Dooley, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.

But after all, why should we be concerned with one lone wacko, which is what they always are they are of the right wing? Well, how about because Bryce Cuellar's YouTube page has over 162,000 subscribers?

A wacko he is; lone, he is not. Instead, he is part of, he is emblematic of, what has become known as the "alt.right," a term which has come to greater prominence now that Hillary Clinton has accused Donald TheRump of enabling it.

By the way, a detour here. I was just wondering about people who act or write like the expression or reference "alt.right" is something new or original. Is our institutional memory that short or is all our political commentary now done by millennials?

So just a brief history lesson for those in need of one for whatever reason:

History lesson from the old guy
Back in the stone age of the internet, around say, the early '90s, when you still routinely would go to an ftp site to download a file, Gopher accessed one of the biggest parts of the internet, and Mosaic was hot stuff, there were these things called Newsgroups, which were a cross between the even older BBSes (bulletin board systems) and discussion groups. Actually, there still are Newsgroups, but back in the day, they were enormously popular to the point of being ubiquitous. At one point, there were over 110,000 of them.

Newsgroups were - are - organized into hierarchies, where topics were layered from the most general to the most specific and you went down in that hierarchy until you got to the level where you thought it most appropriate to post your comment.

(Sidebar: Did you know that Yahoo! supposedly stood for "Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle?")

One of those hierarchies was the "alt." hierarchy, with "alt" being short for "alternative" and was originally for topics that the administrators of the Newsgroup system would not allow. But once it was established it quickly wound up being for whatever sorts of topics wouldn't comfortably fit anywhere else. I don't specifically remember if there was an "alt.right" newsgroup somewhere down in the alt. hierarchy, but I know for sure that there were "alt.left" ones because I was in some of them.

But, getting back to the subject at hand, alt.right, as the term is used today, does not refer to a newsgroup but rather to I will be sufficiently polite to call it a philosophy - even though mental derangement would be far more accurate - that celebrates what is basest, most destructive, most hating, in our natures and wears its putrid, brain-dead bigotry, racism, xenophobia, and misogyny as a badge of honor. And yet at the same time these same people, who think they are so daring and cutting edge, are so hopelessly lame that they can't even come up with a new expression to describe themselves. Now, that is sad.

But what is even sadder - "sad" here being used in the sense of "deeply distressing" - is the utter failure of our media to take such as terrorist Bryce Cuellar and his cohorts seriously or to consider the danger they represent or even to discuss them - except, you will note, when the subject is raised by someone among our powerful, such as Hillary Clinton.

Because unless it is raised by someone among the powerful, it is not on the agenda. And if it is not on the agenda, it doesn't get attention from the mass media - leaving us uninformed, malinformed, and misinformed. And that is a disgrace and a threat to our democracy.

Sources cited in links:

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