Demagogues thrive by whipping up our fury. Here’s how to thwart them
October 3, 2019 at 6:53 AM - Views: 18 #172038
- Total Posts: 5,073
The language of violence and outrage is dominating our discourse. To defeat it, we must learn not to respond in kind
Thu 3 Oct 2019 01.00 EDTLast modified on Thu 3 Oct 2019 02.21 EDT
Is this democracy’s death spiral? Are we, in this country and others, falling into a lethal cycle of fury and reaction, that blocks the reasoned conversation on which civic life depends?
In every age there have been political hucksters using aggression, lies and outrage to drown out reasoned argument. But not since the 1930s have so many succeeded.
Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Narendra Modi, Jair Bolsonaro, Scott Morrison, Rodrigo Duterte, Nicolás Maduro, Viktor Orbán and many others have discovered that the digital age offers rich pickings. The anger and misunderstanding that social media generates, exacerbated by troll factories, bots and covertly funded political advertising, spill into real life.
Today, politicians and commentators speak a language of violence that was unthinkable a few years ago. In the UK, Johnson mocks the memory of the murdered MP Jo Cox. Nigel Farage, talking of civil servants, promises that “once Brexit’s done, we will take the knife to them”. Brendan O’Neill, editor of the website Spiked, a publication that has received funding from the Koch brothers, told the BBC that there should be riots over Brexit’s delay. They must all know, particularly in view of the threats and assaults suffered by female MPs, that violent language licenses violence. But these statements seem perfectly pitched to trigger unreasoning aggression.
October 3, 2019 at 10:01 AM #172159
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Freepers dreamt of lynching Obama. A very little while back someone at SV expressed a desire to crucify Trump using a nail gun. Hillary and Albright – both calm, smiling killers. I’d say demagogues are all around us, bipartisan, and hate speech is only hate speech depending on who it is directed against, and in what company, and how big of a platform it is expressed on. TV, the internet, Congress, Parliament, the news, or a myriad of individual websites. Been going on for a very very long time. We just see more of it now, because of the internet. IMO and all that.
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