Combating Dystopia.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"See What I Did There?": Rally Baiting and the So-Called "Culture Wars"

Its a story that seems oddly familiar for a reason. At a sign of potential social upheaval, polarized groups with vested interests on either side seek to- in classic assertion of conflict theory principles- seek to protect these interests. Under normal circumstances, this plays out in pretty draconian fashion; with those with stronger socio-political ties and robust networks having more powerful voices.

In the case of Unions, its an interesting thing to stop and consider, what with the admitted economic demands some state and city unions put on the taxpayer. (e.g-The Teachers union in Easton, for example has created some rather incendiary debate at local school board meetings) The debates in Wisconsin and pressed by pointedly anti-union Governors has been a matter of very unfortunate timing, as the 100 year anniversary of the Triangle fire, a tragedy that changed the way workers rights were discussed in America.

While it is impossible to accurately claim that all Unions are blameless, entirely benevolent entities, its also incredibly dense to suggest, even in passing, that on a organizational level unions have not done a great deal of social good. (The five day work week and the eight hour workday? Organized labor gains at its finest)

When union protests have occurred of late, we see a very rigid political divide where republicans and conservatives of all ilk are staunchly opposed to unions as a "glut" on we the taxpayer. Left leaners and union supporters tend to identify unions as social constructs that buffer the working class from the demands of the bourgeois. The overall utility and implications of unions is very much a public matter and therefore, worthy of public dialog.

What it isn't grounds for is grandstanding of this nature. Joe. My. God.: GOProud Vs. "Union Scum":

Short story here is that a pair of apparently earnest conservative college students go to a Philadelphia rally in the interests of "creating a dialog" (at least this is what they state on their self-congratulatory blog on the topic). Without question, dissenting viewpoint and counter-debate is of essential importance to any democratic nation, and under normal circumstances not at all out of place at a pro-union rally. But, what these two "brave" young students do here in waving a sign calling their political opposition "scum" and then pretending to be aghast at the "brutish" treatment upon doing so is the height of duplicity. It is reductive and essentialist to suggest that one can be shocked at anger and open hostility when their way to create such environments. What is more galling is the way these arguments are then presented: "Well of course my opponents are violent and thuggish, it vindicates my position and invalidates theirs." They can then smugly sit back and thumb their noses at the argument of the opposition on the whole.

What Mister Hissey and company have done here may seem passingly familiar, because another grandstanding conservative (better known as Terry Jones) on a quest to prove "those muslims" to all be the extremists he knows them to be. How does he go about proving this task? By doing something most people with a whit of political and cultural awareness knows will likely lead to an incitement of violence. The results are delayed, but not unsurprising.

Jones, 59, had considered the possibility that burning the text might elicit a violent response and that innocent people might be killed. In his characteristic drawl — a slow-motion delivery that seems incongruous with the church’s fiery rhetoric — the pastor said the church also debated whether to shred the book, shoot it or dunk it in water instead of burning it.

Jones and Hissey are within degrees, using the same playbook here. The economic/political/religious opponent in question is baited in ways that a thinking, rational person would likely think twice about, and when they react: "Obviously people from position X are thugish and inhuman and prone to violence, when we simply wanted to create dialog". That anyone could make such a claim while holding a "Union SCUM" sign is lightyears beyond me. But of course, the likes of Jones and Hissey won't let their culpability in these acts deter them from spinning it as a "win" for their column. Emboldened that they were "right" about their noting the inhumanity of their enemies. It is a ploy that is as utterly repugnant as it is transparent. It is neither "brave" nor worthy of encouraging to dance with a candle on a powder keg and then use it as a point of fact in your case. Its an argument and a ruse that deserves to be shouted down in every venue its presented in.

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