How did we get here? How is this our main source of nourishment as a culture? Social media has done so much to hurt the very fibers of our being. To the point that the Black men who cried out when Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy — executed at a neighborhood park — are now the ones dining and celebrating a racist White chick who most likely will hate herself senseless five years from now.
I think the events that transpired at Standing Rock since April of this year encapsulate how we got here. We saw at Standing Rock the blatant disregard for the civil rights and basic human dignity of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe play out in the media and in politics for months. We saw the violence of militarized police turned on protestors and one of the most disenfranchised groups in American history at the behest of a corporation’s bottom line.
And, what did we learn? We learned that the vocal, militant right-wingers and their allies in Congress have no compunction about disparaging the Sioux or the protestors who showed up to support their right to clean water. We learned that, on the flip side, only a tiny minority of people supposedly on the “left” had a peep to say about it. Only one single member of Congress, Tulsi Gabbard, went there to stand with the protestors and see what was going on for herself. We learned that the media — the allegedly left-leaning “lamestream” media that the far right has mocked for years — didn’t even cover Standing Rock until the 11th hour, after so much damage had already been done and after so many rights had already been violated.
The entire apparatus of the alleged “left” has a paucity of voices and a lack of leadership. For every hour of airtime a legitimately left-wing public voice like Cornel West gets, there are dozens of hours devoted to the Lahrens and O’Reillies of the world sowing the seeds of hate and reaping their lucrative harvest, and hundreds of hours devoted to mainstream voices who cannot distinguish between objectivity and neutrality, who don’t even know what journalism is. A steady influx of corporate dollars — such as those from Energy Transfer Partners — lines the pockets of our elected officials and shifts the discourse that the mainstream media is willing to engage in. Fox News had already been dragging the conversation to the right for decades, and now we have the likes of Breitbart and The Blaze jumping in to keep pulling it right. All the while, the voices of the left remain silent, compelled to shut up by the very same dollars that fuel the fires of the far right.
I don’t really know what the solution is. Maybe it is you and countless others like you continuing to write and be heard, so as to drown out the amped up lunacy of Lahren and her ilk in a sea of sanity and reason.