Dread and circuses

Notwithstanding my unequivocal support of “The Mosque,” (I see Colin Powell agrees too) I’ve restrained myself from commenting on the sudden media notoriety of one “Rev.” Terry Jones of Florida, who has been promising to burn Holy Korans on the most Holy Day of the American Calendar (TM), you know… (hushed silence)… 9-11… largely because Jones is the type of small man who deserves no attention, a point brilliantly made here by Mike Thomas of the Orlando Sentinel, and duly ignored by the rest of our media.
Of course, one obvious corollary point is that the broader media covers pathetic nobodies like Jones because it has “an agenda”… serving its corporate owners and advertisers by keeping us dumbed down, of course, with “reality television” and its ilk… lest we have to think about things like “reality”… such as a moribund economy which, despite its inability to generate jobs for 10% (or, as I’ve previously noted, 16% or 22% of the workforce, depending on how you count people who would work but have gotten disgusted and stopped looking), remains an economy that nonetheless continues to generate obscene wealth for the privileged few, particularly those on Wall Street who even cop an attitude about how they “really earned” it. Or questions like why, nine years later, after not one but two disastrous misguided and ongoing wars (indeed… why does not the media ask how “combat operations” can even be over if 50,000 soldiers and countless mercenaries remain in Iraq), there continues to be such a focus on 9-11 fetishism and “the Mosque”… to wit, isn’t it very convenient that the rubes are being played to turn on each other, rather than… heavens… towards the ruling and privileged classes who are making their lives ever more undignified and uncomfortable… hmmm….
But back to Mike Thomas’s point… Jones is a pathetic little hatemonger lucky to garner 50 worshippers… and yet, now the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Pope, not to mention all networks and news services, are paying rapt attention to his every move… But… what if no one cared? As Thomas observes…

I ask you: If a sad little man burns some Qurans in the woods, and the media aren’t there to film it, is it news?

You see folks, among the many absurd coincidences of my life, which include having gone to college (Columbia ’83) with a few other n’er do wells like first-man-filibustered-for-a-federal-judgeship Miguel Estrada, executive-editor-o’-Wa-Po Marcus Brauchli and some guy named Barack Obama, and finding myself across the street from a certain pair of office buildings on a certain morning in September around 9 years ago (and btw, for roughly half my career, I have worked at locations closer to the WTC site than “the Mosque”)… it so happens that exactly a year ago, the Rev. Fred Phelps (another small, insignificant, pathetic awful little man, who happens to be rumored to be planning to pick up where Jones left off if Jones calls off his Koran burning)… took his own little pathetic hate show TO THE FRONT OF MY HOUSE at this time last year (across the street from the synagogue targeted for harassment), evidently so that the despicable Phelps family could extend its usual “God hates fags” message (btw… a federal judge struck down “don’t ask don’t tell”… take THAT Fred) toward pissing off Jews during the High Holidays, and where better to find Jews than right here in Brooklyn?
And my only thought at the time was… why was this such a media circus? After all, had no one bothered to show up at all, even in “counter-protest”, Phelps’ little hate movement (and it was barely half a dozen people, including children!) would have immediately run out of oxygen… sure, they were annoying as hell… but seriously… what are they actually doing to earn attention, let alone coverage? Seriously… why do we give a crap about Phelps, or Jones… or for that matter, about Snookie (or however it’s spelled), the Gosselins, “Octo-Mom” or any of the other sideshow rejects that now garner actual media attention? One must note, at some point, that these pathetic, hateful, LITTLE NOTHINGS get the media attention… in lieu of actual coverage of actual events
We might ask why, for the last several years, one of the world’s most active journalists covering some minor story called “Guantanamo” has been some hobbyist singleton pseudonymous lawyer blogger in Brooklyn whose daily readership has hovered in the range of between a few hundred and a few dozen, because with exceptions countable on one , maybe two hands, the “media professionals” couldn’t give a crap about that story, by and large. Or… we might ask about other questions and issues the media might cover… such as what do we do now that we have a Government that can legally kidnap, incarcerate, torture or murder any of us, and not only get away with it, but keep it a complete and total state secret, as long as it has the good sense to utter the words “national security” somewhere in there… or that we have the aforementioned unemployment rate… or that no one can even divine where an economy that can’t generate jobs now is going to generate them in 10 or 15 years… or that there is a rather serious question about how we will deal with climate change (of course, the media would rather pretend there is “still a controversy” about it, even as ice caps melt and droughts and heatwaves and increased intensity of storms occur right in front of us), or of course, that there is a question what we will do (such as how we will fertilize and transport our food) in the face of continued depletion of oil (the oil that isn’t released into the path of marine life as a result of corporate negligence, that is!)… or that we are continuing to maintain and deploy the world’s largest military apparatus, despite the fact that we haven’t had a real enemy for going on twenty years, and the cost of maintaining that excess homicide capability represents our entire federal deficit… no…
Best we concern ourselves with Dancing with the Stars and Lindsay’s drinking and the zany antics of hayseed hatemongers Phelps and Jones and… you know. Because our corporate masters want us looking in any direction at all– except of course, in the direction of our corporate masters themselves. And that’s the somewhat broader point, I suppose. Good on you, Mike Thomas, for calling your brethren and sistren of the media out on this Jones thing. And bad on you, rest of media.
This has been… “Dread and circuses.”