When America Went Insane … Again

MY TURN-It happens every so many years. People in the U.S. seem to begin a slow crawl to the edge of a precipice and then jump off into worlds of their own creation. Violence and mayhem, for no apparent reason.

It is one of those skeletons in the closet of our country that no one wants to include in the history books and is only spoken of as families pass down the stories of what really happened. We entered this continent with the idea that land was something we owned and in doing so, our European ancestors murdered Native Americans, participated in mass slaughter of the buffalo, refused asylum for Jews escaping Hitler, leaped onto the bandwagon of the Red Scare and embraced Joseph McCarthy (to name a few), and now have created the ultimate condition of our own demise by letting someone has unhinged as trump run the country. It’s as though we have an inner clock that says “yup, it’s time for the inmates to run things again.” In this case, we may have gone one step too far. 

We have always relied on those with critical thinking abilities to bring us back from the edge. Many of us who see what’s going on, and like a bad sci-fi movie involving the walking dead, find a miracle cure that saves the rest of the country and even the world. The question that exists now is whether or not there are enough sane people left. 

While many won’t admit it, we all saw what was happening when the 2016 Presidential campaigns began. There was an oozing bubble of slimy hate and racism that reared its ugly head. It is a familiar face. We have seen it before. However, this time, we hoped that we had learned our lesson so that it wouldn’t crawl out from the depths of hell to take over. 

When it all began to boil over, I attributed this mass hysteria to something in the water or maybe something in the McDonald’s food. How in the hell could a group of conservatives stand behind an obvious conman who was teetering on the border of being absolutely nuts. We underestimated their inner need for greed and power. We didn’t foresee that their long-term game plan involving gerrymandering and voter suppression was being visualized, and that no matter how crazy trump was, he became their useful tool to take over the country. 

The day the election results were announced many of us broke into tears. This wasn’t just a loss, we had gone through many of those before and lived through them. This was an all-out assault on every forward moving effort we had made for the last 75 years. It was the people in our neighborhoods, businesses, and especially the churches, embracing hate, racism, bigotry, and sexism. It was the encouragement of the Caucasians who knew their numbers were dwindling, to make a last power grab of control. 

On that fateful day, we knew America had once again, gone insane. 

The Stupid Put Trust in Those Who Lie 

News reporting of the past was held to higher standards. Yes, there were newspaper and tabloid reporters who always seemed to cross the line to “get the story” and, depending upon the publication, they knew that they had to market the headline to get the readers. Television reporting was a source we turned to for the boiled down concentrated version of reporting. It wasn’t until President Ronald Reagan vetoed the “Fairness Doctrine Bill” in 1987 that we see the rise of so-called “news” that was allowed to spin and create anything they wanted. This was the rise of Fox (and I refuse to attach the word “news” to their name). I cover the history of this horror of an entertainment group in my article: How Fox Brainwashed Conservative America: The “Fox Effect” 

In 2016, Forbes published an article on this topic. They included the following information: 

“In 2012, a Fairleigh Dickinson University survey reported that Fox News viewers were less informed about current events than people who didn’t follow the news at all. The survey had asked current events questions like ‘Which party has the most seats in the House of Representatives?’ and also asked what source of news people followed. The Fox viewers’ current events scores were in the basement. This finding was immediately trumpeted by the liberal media — by Fox, not so much — and has since become known as the Fox News effect. It conjures the image of Fox News as a black hole that sucks facts out of viewers’ heads.” 

The article continued to say: 

“Stereotypes aside, it’s not that Fox News viewers live in a bubble and get all their news from that one source. The average Fox viewer listed 4.5 other source of news they regularly followed. Many also got news from the major broadcast networks, Facebook, and the liberal news channel MSNBC. Nevertheless, those who listed Fox News as one of their news sources had overall lower levels of knowledge on the factual questions. Fox viewers were less likely to know the capital of Canada, the religion of the Dalai Lama, or the size of the Federal budget. They couldn’t find South Carolina on map or name the second digit of pi.” 

If there was any single step that was taken to prepare for the next apocalypse of insanity, it was the rise of Fox. It laid the groundwork for a slow and methodical reinforcement of any kind of propaganda or conspiracy theory; wrapping it up in a presentation and blasting it on the screen. Shapely blonde bimbos sit aside their male counterparts creating outright lies and refusing to report the truth. This fed the ever-hungry, drooling faces of those that harbor hate for anyone different than them or even smarter than they were. 

But there’s plenty of blame to go around. From a 2017 article in the Atlantic is entitled:  How America Lost Its Mind. 

The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history. 

“You are entitled to your own opinion,
 but you are not entitled to your own facts.” — Daniel Patrick Moynihan
 

“We risk being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so ‘realistic’ that they can live in them.” — Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (1961) 

“Each of us is on a spectrum somewhere between the poles of rational and irrational. We all have hunches we can’t prove and superstitions that make no sense. Some of my best friends are very religious, and others believe in dubious conspiracy theories. What’s problematic is going overboard — letting the subjective entirely override the objective; thinking and acting as if opinions and feelings are just as true as facts. The American experiment, the original embodiment of the great Enlightenment idea of intellectual freedom, whereby every individual is welcome to believe anything she wishes, has metastasized out of control. 

 “From the start, our ultra-individualism was attached to epic dreams, sometimes epic fantasies — every American one of God’s chosen people building a custom-made utopia, all of us free to reinvent ourselves by imagination and will. In America nowadays, those more exciting parts of the Enlightenment idea have swamped the sober, rational, empirical parts. Little by little for centuries, then more and more and faster and faster during the past half century, we Americans have given ourselves over to all kinds of magical thinking, anything-goes relativism, and belief in fanciful explanation — small and large fantasies that console or thrill or terrify us. And most of us haven’t realized how far-reaching our strange new normal has become.” 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, America has teetered at the brink and gleefully leaped over. As a nation, people began accepting that there were (as per Carl Rove’s creation) “reality-based communities.” Stephen Colbert recognized what was happening and, in an attempt to send a red flag alert, created the word “truthiness.” This intellectual effort to bring the topic to the attention of the people was lost on those who bought into it. 

You see, like a drug addict, they were already hooked. These were the people who continue to swear that President Obama is a Muslim, that Hillary and Bill Clinton have been trying to take over the world, that liberals are sacrificing babies in Satanist rituals. These are the same people that would stand in line at the grocery store and not only reach for but buy that wacko tabloid announcing that we were being invaded by reptilian aliens. 

But You Already Know This…Next Step? 

Within weeks after the announcement of the Presidential election results, I and many, began looking at things differently. Each time I walked through the grocery store or down a street in my town, I examined the faces of those around me and wondered if they voted for “him” and how could they hide so much hate without me being aware of it. I saw an immediate change in all of the people of color. The Hispanic guys that did the landscaping who were normally filled with smiles were suddenly quiet and eyes down. The Muslim ladies who used to walk to the store were car-pooling and going in groups to ensure their safety. The corner where the school bus stopped had so many white kids picking on those of color that parents had to show up to stop the bullying. 

I am from a USMS military family and my own sister-in-law swore she didn’t support any political party, but felt quite happy spewing lies from Fox, while also lacking the ability to discern the difference between a Pulitzer-prize winning, lifelong journalist, and a conspiracy theory driven hack. I was and have been sickened, nauseated, and disgusted to be called an American. 

It took months, but many of us stepped up to the plate. We have been fighting the idiocy and insanity, one fact-checked moment at a time. The craziness comes in waves and the orange asshat is expert at throwing out chaos for the mindless and the reporters to chase. However, we refused to be sidetracked and continue to plug on. 

As the insanity escalates, the world looks on in absolute horror. Some just laugh at the man baby wannabe dictator as he throws tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. Others recognize that he truly has severe mental problems, even rumors of his inability to read. Flashcards and crayons have been suggested, and with each embarrassing moment, we shake our heads. 

We need to feel as if we are in control of our lives and to this end, the Republicans have shown that they not only can’t lead, but don’t know how to lead. Their blood thirsty desire for profit and greed have left us feeling helpless. However, one step at a time, we are making headway. I plastered my car with liberal bumper stickers. My family didn’t fight in the wars in other countries where fascism and dictators ruled only to have me live in fear of someone causing me or my property harm. One step. 

I refuse to buy into the idiot’s hyper-nationalistic attitudes and instead, when it’s time to hang an American flag, I show the “nation in distress” signal with it flying upside down. Another step.

I joined the local Democratic group to see what additional things we can do to try to regain some sanity. A couple more steps. 

Like an underground movement, many of us are finding each other and devoting time and effort in the development of ideas and actions that can dig us out of the craziness that has invaded the country. A bigger step. 

I never sat by while this buildup of insanity was brewing, but now I am making concerted efforts to overthrow up. I want my life back. I want to see a country of good for our children and grandchildren.

I no longer accept the things that I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.

 

(S. Novi is a journalist who worked in the media and continues to seek out truth and integrity. A liberal and one who is suspicious of cults and empty promises. Her posts originate at Medium.com. She is a contributor to CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.