Conspiracy of Words, Decline of an Empire

When my partner Rob and I first arrived on the south coast of the island of Crete, in 1991, it was a Swiss tourist who first realized that we were a gay couple. Barbara was the kind of person who would innocently blurt out what was on her mind. After we confirmed her suspicions, it was less than 24 hours before the entire village knew we were a gay couple. Of course we assumed that the reaction might be similar to the same revelation in a small town in rural America. We were pleasantly surprised, however. The lack of knowledge about homosexuality in Loutro was simply because they had never been exposed to homosexuals. No one had taught them that we were bad. No one had instructed them on how they should feel. No one had read Bible verses that condemned us to eternal damnation. Their ignorance was very simply an absence of knowledge. So in the absence of fundamentalist American Christians, the people of Loutro, Crete watched us with curiosity. They treated us with the same respect they gave everyone who was different. In the following four years they came to love us as we came to love them. We became such a part of the family of Loutro, that my partner Rob’s ashes are spread in the castle ruins above Loutro, where he rests for eternity, at his request on his death bed.

I open with this story, because that is where my picture of present day America was developed. It is through that lens that I observe the insanity that threatens the very existence of the most respected democracy on earth. The fire that feeds the insanity is stoked by what Robert N. Proctor calls "agnotology." It is the cultural production of ignorance for a specific purpose. 

The far right, and now the Republican Party they have hijacked, are involved in a conspiracy of words. They use ignorance as a weapon to advance their evil agenda. They very carefully frame their arguments to appeal to the most basic human instincts that fear can arouse in the midst of ignorance. They teach the unknowing that stubbornness is synonymous with virtue. They convince those weak in spirit, that ignorance carries the same weight as knowledge. And their most clever framing of all is the idea that anyone who criticizes them is un-American or unholy!

My only hope for the future of the United States comes from the possibility that they have finally overstepped the bounds of decency and sanity to an extent where it is impossible for any intelligent person to remain silent! The fact that I must rely on this as my glimmer of hope is an indictment of our collective lack of morality. They have framed their revolution so well, that good people have remained silent too long, in fear, as the entire culture has imploded. We had multitudes of opportunities over the past 30 years, to stop this madness! But we bought the lies, embraced the distractions and nurtured our personal ambitions at the expense of the greater good. On some level we are all guilty of turning our backs on others because it wasn't about us personally! 

In a sane world, the entire slate of Republican candidates would have been laughed off the stage. In a sane world, no respectable news agency would have given them the time of day. In a sane world Democrats would have stood up and called out their lies every time the Republicans opened their mouths. In a sane world the people of the United States would already be in the streets by the tens of millions demanding that we return to the kind of government that used to be the envy of the rest of the world.

But the truth is, we have all been brainwashed to a certain extent, by a conspiracy of words. Too many now believe that truth has the same standing as lies. Too many now believe that hatred and prejudice are the price we pay for free speech! Too many now believe as a nation, that we have no choice, but to lie down, motionless, as we are trampled by greed, corruption, violence and inequality. We have been taught that we must turn the other cheek, then turn the other cheek, then turn the other cheek until we are bloodied beyond the recognition of what we were when we were a great nation that was the envy of the rest of the world. 

Views: 110

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on August 7, 2017 at 8:40am

YES.

Comment by koshersalaami on August 7, 2017 at 9:34am

I can't argue with this. What I can add is that the phenomena of which you speak are not limited to the religious portion of the Right (which, just to be preemptive, is NOT a defense of the religious right). A lot of this comes from the Business Right, guys who first came to power with Reagan and their successors like the Koch brothers. They finance fearful messages and perpetrate economic myths that are amplifying the power of the Religious Right by removing minority protections as part of an effort to eliminate regulation in general. It is the Buinsess Right that bought the media and dismantled antitrust regulation and FCC regulations limiting centrality of media ownership in any given market. It is the Kochs, Newt Gingrich, and Grover Nordquist who have ended bipartisan cooperation deliberately and championed the privatizing of everything in an effort aiming the United States on a course to take us to what Russia looked like just after the fall of,the Soviet Union - a corrupt mess run by robber baron oligarchs while the economy tanked. As the media message is controlled more through ownership and sensitivity to advertisers and as public education is defunded, the ignorance spreads with fearful myths that make Americans feel out of control and like lashing out at anyone who represents social change because of the feelings of instability that are deliberately heightened by the Republican message. 

Liberals had a hand in this by vacating important battlegrounds. We deserted religion because we didn't want to be seen as interfering with Church/State separation, leading these intolerant lunatics as the primary public face of Godliness. We deserted fighting about the economy in terms of business health because we were afraid of looking materialistic. We separated ourselves from all things military so as not to look militaristic. And so a frightened population looked to the Republicans as the experts in Safety, Money, and God. They are experts in none of the above. That they are viewed as experts in all of them is our fault. 

Comment by Robert Starkey on August 7, 2017 at 9:47am

Most people have forgotten the role of Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, in guiding the Republican Party to their present day role as enemies of the state! His takeover of American politics was achieved through a concept spelled out in the 1994 GOPAC memo titled “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.”

Comment by Robert Starkey on August 7, 2017 at 9:51am

Point taken kosher. Changed to far right. I'm just used to taking them on because of personal attacks. 

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on August 7, 2017 at 10:00am

Liberals had a hand in this by vacating important battlegrounds. We deserted religion because we didn't want to be seen as interfering with Church/State separation, leading these intolerant lunatics as the primary public face of Godliness. We deserted fighting about the economy in terms of business health because we were afraid of looking materialistic. We separated ourselves from all things military so as not to look militaristic. And so a frightened population looked to the Republicans as the experts in Safety, Money, and God. They are experts in none of the above. That they are viewed as experts in all of them is our fault. 

Wow...  Centralist, stealth Republican much?

Let's dissect what you said a bit...

We deserted religion because we didn't want to be seen as interfering with Church/State separation, leading these intolerant lunatics as the primary public face of Godliness.

"God" has NO business in government.  Church/State separation, as we currently view it, is there for a reason = religious people inherently insist on making people do things "for their own good!", which invariable corresponds with what they want/belief.  Big fake sky daddies have zero business being integrated with the rule of law.  Saying otherwise, in any shape or form, is being EXACTLY like the religious Right, just with different branding.

We deserted fighting about the economy in terms of business health because we were afraid of looking materialistic.

Centralists like Hillary and Obama had as many Goldman Sachs Wall St. shills "guiding" them than virtually any others.  Centralists being "guided" by the likes of Soros or Bloomberg is no different than being guied by Addison or the Kochs Bros.

We separated ourselves from all things military so as not to look militaristic.

There are few people in history who have been a bigger than Hillary.  She supports war with Russia, interfered in the Ukraine, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, FFS.

And so a frightened population looked to the Republicans as the experts in Safety, Money, and God. They are experts in none of the above.

Equating Safety = war mongering, Money = being owned by the Corpocracy, and God = Theocracy R'Us is exactly what we DON'T need more of.

Comment by Boanerges on August 7, 2017 at 1:01pm

They treated us with the same respect they gave everyone who was different.

THIS.

Comment by koshersalaami on August 7, 2017 at 6:27pm

Amy,

if you ever read a word I said for any purpose other than looking for ammunition, you might be worth talking to once in a while. 

Most Jews who aren't ultra-Orthodox are virulently opposed to any breach of the separation between Church and State, emphatically including me. That is not where such advocacy belongs. It belongs in conversations with the Religious Right. If they don't get to define the Left as godless in principle, that takes some of the wind out of their sails and disrupts their unquestioning unity. They vote based on religion, so approach them on what their religion actually entails, Biblically. That doesn't breach separation of Church and State, it addresses the pre-existing political bias of Church. 

In terms of my business point, I've been writing about the economy for seven years on OS/OurS. If you'd read a single piece, you'd understand what I was talking about, and it is not advocacy for the Clintons, Obama, or Goldman-Sachs. To put it in a sentence: The way to improve the economy is through trickle-up, an approach which is better for business than trickle-down because more customers with disposable income can buy more stuff. Even Krugman and Reich tend to stop short of telling Wall Street that liberals are actually better for business than conservatives are, even if it's by accident. Incidentally, more customers with money also means more taxpayers, which is how to address deficits.

In terms of the military, Democrats have a way better record of taking care of enlisted personnel than Republicans do. So while Democrats advocate for better salaries and conditions for enlisted personnel, Republicans get credit for being more pro-military - without supporting most of the people who actually comprise the military. 

"Equating Safety = war mongering, Money = being owned by the Corpocracy, and God = Theocracy R'Us is exactly what we DON'T need more of" was exactly my point. 

 

Comment by Anna Herrington on August 8, 2017 at 7:42am

Your time in Loutro sounds lovely, Robert, I appreciate your sharing your story as beginning to this post.

There's an article/excerpt that I read in The Guardian that I thought spoke a bit to what you say here, to the brainwashing of the white, especially, American from birth on.... written by an American who grew up in total insulation and then moved to Turkey. It does not venture into issues of being gay in America, but it does to the narrow mindsets so many embrace as their right and as truth - I found it interesting to read, anyway, thought you might, too.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/08/unlearning-the-myth...

Comment by John Marino on August 8, 2017 at 1:44pm

Suggestion is the most powerful tool we have to guide change, wether good or bad. The far right has become quite deft in using misinformation, disinformation and lies to guide the populace to think as they wish. They started their assault by destroying an educational system that teaches one HOW to think and replacing it with a system of mind control that, through repetitive suggestion, teaches one WHAT to think. Unless and until our nation wakes up to this single truth nothing will change. To be certain, Betsy DeVos, our current Secretary of Education, will strike the final death blow to the human spirit and the thinking mind. Time to wake up, folks.

Comment by MV Neland on Sunday

"Too many now believe that hatred and prejudice are the price we pay for free speech!"

                                                                                       - Robert Starkey, 2017

Stands out better that way.

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