Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stealing from Sarandon, Part 1

Arthur Silber hates on this one for pointing out that ad campaigns asking the American public to "not attack Iran" (as though "the American public" is the one doing it) are/will be ineffectual.

Take note that, despite its sweet nature, this idea was borrowed from Susan Sarandon, who personally funded a series of anti-Iraq-war ads sometime prior to Bush bombing the everliving crap out of Iraq.  Which ads, um, obviously didn't work, despite having very major financial and social backing from a prominent cultural figure.  Also, everyone's now seen American Beauty and The Lord of the Rings, and peeps, that ain't stoppin' the game.  You can drop down to your knees and connect the dots for the dumbest Joe the Plumber out there, about how killing little brown children is not going to help him, but Joe already knows little brown children are being killed, and he doesn't care.  Being "informed" that the government is screwing him is also not going to accomplish anything; he already knows he's being screwed, which is why he's able to be co-opted so easily into the USG's tea-party branch.

Ouch, though--slapped by Arthur. Cognitive dissonance hurts, even among radicals. 'Cause you know, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 changed foreign policy for the better. And struck a major blow against war-loving corporate news media, who profited not at all from its scathing release. ...oops. None of those things are true. It's not easy to come to the level of realization that most here have: i.e., the realization that the place we grew up is the most brutal empire in the history of the world, poisoning the planet and committing mass genocide. However, we've managed to deal with it. Try to get the standard Obama voter to realize that, and the cognitive dissonance kicks on. They get angry and the discussion ends. Now, try telling a radical, "That's nice, but if you don't take action that goes beyond pleading with people, you'll never get it," and you'll see the same dissonance, and the same anger. Keep on speaking truth vaguely in the direction of power. How's that working out for you, Twain? Talons gone yet? And ya know, this one's pointing it out isn't what makes it true. Any more than Chris chronicling Somalia makes him responsible for the death there. Don't shoot the messenger, and all that. Sorry that you don't have the power to change it--this one doesn't either. Do you come to the internet to learn, or to be agreed with and validated? Sigh. The enemy of my enemy's enemy's enemy is not my friend.

freemansfarm writes:

Silber's proposal suffers from several flaws. As has already been pointed out, the issue isn't that people don't know so they don't care, it's that they don't care and that's why they don't know. To put it more abstractly, as, again, another poster has already done, the problem is not one of politics but of the social and cultural realities that underlie politics. What happens to "the other" is simply not something that the most people care about. "Oh, if only the people knew?!" is just as naive, just as misguided, and misses the point just as much "Oh, if only the Czar knew?!" in its day.

People do, naturally and empathically care, but put another way, they also don't care.  It would be more accurate to say that, en masse, they could care.

Feeding the media monster ad dollars to ask the American public to not blow up the jillionth country in a row, though, will accomplish nothing except transferring "progressive" money to major media, and raise some "serious issues" about the Iran attack that will be gravely considered by our brave public servants before they press the big red button.  If they decide they want to, this time.  They might just keep mashing the "Afghanistan" button over, and over, and over.

You won't win until you play.


  1. i think they're 1. overestimating how much others are like them, and 2. underestimating how much they themselves really care about brown folks.

  2. If "they" cared "more" about brown folks (and by that, you presumably mean "starving or dead brown folks far away"), then they would react similarly to the deaths of those brown folks as they would to the deaths of their own children. And--and this is going out on a limb--they don't.

    Why the difference?

  3. i'm stereotyping, but i find that the "empathy" (of libs/cons both) is often insincere. the outrage over the poor treatment of brown folks (here or elsewhere) often seems more self-gratifying. as in, "i care about brown people", following by an implicit "see how good a person i am?"

    so, first, there's a layer of self-deception. (my #2 above.) but then, there's this assumption that everyone else will share in the outrage. (#1 above.) (and i think it true whether genuine or self-serving.)

    truth be told, though, i don't really have a problem with treating closer relations differently than distant relations. sure, we're all people, but...

  4. There's a problem with it, but in the jungle as we are, it's also the only intelligent choice many of us can make. Sort of like voting for the lesser evil plagues others of less character. Ideally, we would gain the strength to be just as outraged by the killing of another's child, and the world would change in a surge of fire.