Monthly Archives: October 2009

Get Down With Your BAD Self: Blogging for Climate Change

This post is part of Blog Action Day (BAD) ’09, which currently has almost ten thousand bloggers pledged to write in support of action on climate change. Check out www.blogactionday.org for more details.

Climate change isn’t my regular “beat,” but you have to be pretty out-of-touch (or George W. Bush) not to realize what a massive problem global warming is. Hence, I wasn’t surprised that the winning cause for Blog Action Day was Climate Change–a recent college grad, environmentalism is the hottest topic amongst student activists across the country.

I think Blog Action Day is an amazing, well orchestrated event (and it just happens to be run this year by my new employer, Change.org). What was it that those anonymous White House aides said about supporters of LGBT rights? Something about “internet left fringe” and “need[ing] to take off their pajamas”? And here we are, at it again, wearing our monkey-print pajamas and failing to realize “governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult.”

Know what else is difficult? Governing a country when rising sea levels start submerging parts of that country. (I’m in New York City! We’re going to be among the first to go!)

Okay, that’s an oversimplification of the problem of climate change. It’s much more COMPLICATED and DIFFICULT–and Mother Nature doesn’t wait just because Obama has a tough gig.

Our country has tons of problems–like I said, global warming isn’t my regular beat, and I’m a layperson in the issue. My pajama-clad energy usually goes to LGBT rights, feminism, freaking out about the Religious Right, etc. I’m more than aware of the other issues to pay attention to. But that’s not a valid excuse.

Today, we put our keyboards to use for climate change. Tomorrow, who knows?

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Filed under Environment

Fear & Loathing in the U.S.A.: “Patriot Movement” Issues Ultimatum Via Youtube

In a Youtube video that has now been removed, members of the right-wing “patriot movement” warned Obama (“and co”) to “leave now and give us our country back.” If not, “‘We, The People’ will systematically dismantle you, destroy you and reclaim what is rightfully ours.”

“Dead line [sic] for your national response: October 15, 2009.”

And make no mistake about what it is they’re threatening: in a final note to “patriots,” the video says to “Be prepared for when the fateful day of the declaration of war [emphasis added] is nationally announced.”

So, ultimatum and threat of war + people bringing guns to Obama’s speech + the kind of rhetoric directed toward John F. Kennedy before his assassination (except now we can also vote on whether the president should live via Facebook poll) = are you worried yet?

FDR told us, “We have nothing to fear except fear itself.” And that’s exactly what I’m afraid of–people’s fear. The fear of “the other.” People’s fear for their “way of life.” The 9/12 protests: Fear of government. Images that depict Obama as Hitler: Fear.

Fear incited by right-wing pundits and politicians who really should know better. Fear translated into hate.

When people’s fears have been brought to a pitch–conspiracies, demonizing, scapegoating–the danger of violence arises. That’s why Latino organizations took a stand against Lou Dobbs’ fear-mongering rhetoric: to protect themselves. That’s what makes the growth of militia and white supremacist groups across the country so alarming.

Perhaps even more important (and difficult) than health care reform–although that’s a big one–progressives need to figure out how to undermine the power of fear in shaping our current national discourse. It all ties together anyway: With “kill your grandma” rhetoric Democrats are kept from pursing their policy goals.

Under the Bush years, we were conditioned to be afraid with the color alert system (it’s orange today! ORANGE!) and constant Dick Cheney rhetoric about our national security (and then some distractions about how it’s really gay marriage that will destroy America). It’s easier to cause an atmosphere of fear than to dispel it: hence the desperate Republican Party’s continued attraction to these cheap tricks. But Democrats can’t stoop to those same tactics–the 9/11 truth movement show that liberals are capable of whipping up fear and conspiracy theories too.

National security goal #1 should be to work toward civil discourse, against fear–bringing a new meaning to the “war on terror.”

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Filed under Obama, Right-wing movements