Tuesday, March 17, 2015
They Got Their "Facts" From the Radio, Too
The Tea Party is such a puzzle to me. I have always been curious about sociology. I want to know why people do the things they do. It has always been something that has both fascinated and tortured me. As a child my mind could not accept that slavery was a thing. I couldn't understand how people could steal other human beings and force them to leave their families and their homes and work and be abused and actually be owned by other people. I could not understand it. Likewise, when I learned about the Holocaust, I pretty much lost my shit. I think they are equally tragic. They both were attempts at a decimation of a large group of people. Both were exploited as a workforce for no pay. And both groups ended up being murdered in the most horrific means imaginable and their plights were both ignored for far too long by people who should have done right as human beings.
I think the Holocaust was more painful for me because its introduction to me was by video. I literally saw naked, skin and bone dead bodies in a pile being bulldozered into a huge pit. After that, there were many videos and lessons to come. I remember when we read the Diary of Anne Frank I could not get past the fact that it was one family. Of the millions of families who were safe in these countries during this time, so few did anything to help their friends and neighbors. I was bound to learn how that could happen. I needed an answer that would explain to me how millions of people could be so easily led into a situation like the one they were in and not have an uprising or do anything to help.
There are some things that end up being awful but are morally questionable at first where people could not see what was coming. This was not one of them. The beginnings of the involvement of the citizens was called The Night of the Broken Glass. I believe it was 94 or 96 Jews were killed that night. The citizenry was encouraged to go out in the streets and destroy the synagogues and homes and businesses of the Jews and beat them. AND THEY DID IT. Many tens of thousands of Jews were then deported to the concentration camps.
The more I researched the more I was sickened and disgusted with humanity. I believe that most people are born with a strong understanding of the difference between right and wrong. There are a handful of people that probably come broken or are led there, but most know what is right. The fact that an entire nation (and eventually many more nations) went along with years of this atrocity and did nothing about it was absolutely unfathomable.
When I learned about Goebbels, I was fascinated. And mortified. I am sure that propaganda has been used on some level in history in many places for many reasons. But I think he found the exact recipe to actually get all of the people to go along with it. And he patiently took the time to build it so the messages would seep in and become a part of someone's permanent mindset. He studied people and their weaknesses. He understood the ways to use fear and German Exceptionalism and intimidation. He used all means of media available to him at the time: TV, radio, newspapers and even the movies people watched. He carefully crafted the information that the citizens were receiving and even things that the students were being taught in schools. He literally created a citizenry that believed in what they were doing, regardless of the fact that it was against every hint of morality they had been born with.
Those carefully crafted propaganda ploys have been studied and implemented ever since the techniques were mastered in the 30s and 40s. At present, a small faction of the American population is under a similar misconception by those who are leading them. They claim to be demanding changes in our country to make it better for its citizens and more like the Christian nation they seek, but they are being diverted from seeing the fact that everything they are seeking is in complete contradiction with the teachings of Jesus Christ. They hate the Muslims. They hate gays. They hate black "thugs." They hate poor people who need assistance. Jesus was totally serious about that bit where no one should be judging others lest they be judged. What? Do they think that was a misprint? But, whatever. Jesus never hated anyone, by the way. Jesus would never demand that immigrants be forced to leave and return to a violent homeland. I'm just sure of it. Didn't he love all the little children of the world? Or was that someone else? And I feel confident saying that Jesus would not encourage anyone to rally for gun rights. I'd bet he wouldn't like weapons at all.
I am not a Christian. I was confirmed in the Methodist Church when I was 13 but it was because I was a kid and that was what my family told me to do. I grew up and decided that none of the religions completely convinced me or spoke to me and I now identify as an Agnostic. I have genuine respect for Christians, though. True Christians, anyway. There are people of all faiths who sincerely do their best every day trying to follow the tenets of their religion to be the best person that they can be and honor those teachings. It is a lovely way to live and a nice guide, when necessary. I do not respect people who conflate the teachings to fit their own agendas and exploit the weak who cannot see the truth. There are many groups who do that overseas like Isis and Al Qaeda and Boko Haram. They have fuckered up their religion beyond recognition. The Tea Party has done the same with Christianity.
I am an empathetic person and I always aspire to understand people and help them when I can. I do not need for there to be a hell to want to be a good person. I want to be a part of a positive change in the world in helping people in need when I can, and accepting them when I cannot.
The sad truth is that some of us want to understand the weaknesses of others so we can reach them and help them. And some want to understand people so they can manipulate them and exploit their weaknesses.