A Society of Fear

The USA in the post 9/11 era has become a fearful society. We are afraid of terrorists and we’re afraid of losing jobs and income. We are afraid of speaking out against injustice and we’re afraid of our government. We are afraid of calling too much attention to ourselves.

The popular media manipulates us, substituting vacuous scandal for deep values. We live impulsively.

We need to dream bigger and deeper. Fear should not be the defining quality of our society.

The goal of terrorism is not to externally destroy a country with bombs; the goal is to cause a society to destroy itself. The US government is doing a dandy job at that.

Top Secret America by Dana Priest and William Arkin documents some of the ways that the US government has responded to the “crisis” of 9/11. Note particularly how much money has gone to pay for these “protections”.

And, no, I don’t feel safer.

False Equivalence in Journalism

Perhaps one of the most pernicious and corrosive aspects of modern popular journalism is the tendency to present stories in a so-called “he said/she said” format. For example, the Democrats say one thing, the Republicans say something different, and the views are presented with little-to-no factchecking. The views are also presented as equivalent, no matter how skewed or wrong the facts might be on one or both sides. This is sometimes known as “false equivalence”.

The Beat the Press blog at Center for Economic and Policy Research mentioned that NPR Ends He Said/She Said journalism. I had some trouble finding the specifics at NPR’s Ethics Handbook. Still, this is a good sign. Partisan reporting certainly has its place but not in broad news producers.

I find it particularly noxious when Fox, which is a decidedly partisan organization, proclaims a slogan like “fair and balanced.” Quite a newspeak kind of assertion.

The minor issue of a blogroll

I should be writing about broader issues but I find myself puttering around with my blogroll.

I seem to recall that several years ago there was a debate among left-ish blogs about the use of blogrolls. A number of prominent blogs and sites dropped their blogrolls entirely. I didn’t really follow the debate but I note that quite a few blogs do not have a blogroll. I think this is a shame.

While blogrolls can be notoriously time-consuming and difficult to maintain, I think they provide a window into interconnections between people and groups. I don’t expect a blogroll to provide some ideological purity or perfect alignment with a blog/site. I like to know what the blogger/site owner/editor finds worth reading, what opinions and viewpoints might influence them. Or, views that are unique, voices which embody thoughtful consideration of unconventional positions.

My first additions to my blogroll are pretty well-known and popular but I’ll be expanding it as I go along.

Happy International Women’s Day

As some have snarked, so this means all other days are men’s days? Let me offer a small selection of links.

and Censored News (nothing about Intl. Women’s Day at the moment but I like Ms. Norrell so consider this just a plug for her.)

A Long Time Ago…

…on a blogging platform far, far away, I began blogging. Eventually, I grew weary of blogging and turned my attention to other writing projects. My blog languished and slowly decomposed without regular updates and posts.

I thought about revitalizing, reinvigorating the blog but I was tired of the particular blogging platform and the accretions of years of blogging there.

“Why not start fresh?” I thought. Yeah, that’s the ticket: think of a new blog name, refocus my attention, get back to observing and commenting on the U.S. political scene. After all, it’s an election year and the Republicans and their fellow travelers are acting really… strange. Bizarre, even.

Thus I created “Afflict the Pale”. (You can glance at my About page to find out hints on the meaning of this odd title.)

I’m still unclear about my focus here. I expect to mostly post my analyses of politics and culture. Some book and film reviews, that sort of thing. I’m a little rusty on blog posting so it might take me a little while to find my flow. Some posts may be a tad unformed or incomplete at first but it should even out fairly quickly.

Thanks for reading.

Haywood Debbs

PS: I’m still in the process of setting everything in order here on the technical side so expect things to appear and disappear from the sidebar as I furnish the blog with widgets and the like. Comments are always welcome. I welcome differing views from my own as long as they are expressed in a civil manner. I value intelligent discussion; empty name-calling, less so. Trolling behaviour will be shown the figurative door. And I am not naive about internet trolls.