Odds and Ends from a Long Week of Bad History, Bad Law, Trolls, and …

“There are in this country, as in all others, a certain proportion of restless and turbulent spirits – poor, unoccupied, ambitious – who must always have something to quarrel about with their neighbors. These people are the authors of religious revivals.” ~ John Quincy Adams

 Some thoughts and impressions from quite the week:

battlefield-earth-02Tell me again why we need Religious Freedom Acts when the First Amendment is unchallenged and Scientology is not only accorded the same rights, privileges, and protections as all other religions, it was not summarily dismantled after the release of Battlefield Earth.

Obviously – to everyone not employed by Fox News, the law was drafted and enacted to allow people to do what Federal, State, and Local governments are estopped by the Constitution and 200 plus years of Supreme Court decisions from doing – use religion to discriminate against others.

This was explained perfectly by someone, somewhere in Indiana who proclaimed – “this law doesn’t discriminate against anyone … it just protects those of us who do.”  That, by the way, is genius.

I’m Facebook friends with a guy I went to high school with. Nice guy but slightly to the right of Curtis LeMay. He posts a lot. A real lot. A chunk of them are personal attacks on Obama written by guys Alex Jones (see below) would think crazy. Last week he reposted something from some ‘ultra-right-wing-we-hate-and-would-be-a-really-scary-militia-group-if-only -we-had-enough-ambition-to-do-anything-but-post-to-Facebook-all-fucking-day’ group.

Split screen, half Obama, half Abraham Lincoln, a quote allegedly from Obama about his willingness to use Executive 300px-Emancipation_proclamationOrders, a quote from Lincoln dispelling ruling by Executive Order.

I never do this, but I found the pairing disingenuous at best, commented that if they were going to disparage Obama’s use of Executive Orders, Lincoln wasn’t the best choice as the Emancipation Proclamation was an atomic bomb of an Executive Order – to the point where more than a few otherwise supposedly rational people urged the Army of the Potomac to march on Washington and usurp the dictator.

Hey, you know, just saying. As a matter of fact I ended the comment with ‘just saying.’ It took thirteen minutes for the wow-nerd-south-park-580first hate comment to be posted – it was suggested I should be tar, feathered, rode out-of-town on a pole and lynched. Although the guy that wrote it didn’t have the process down very well “we have a tared [sic] and feathered pole ready for you . . . ” was how it started. I resisted the urge to clue him in on the proper tar, feather, pole, rope sequence, decided against it.

I went to his Facebook page, it was further to the right of the very right page of my high school friend, spewed really hideous invective on every lefty from leftyville who ever lived and their welfare hogging, suck the life out of the rest of us, living off the gommerment descendants.

He has the time to do this – he posts every few minutes, all day – because he is home all day, living off disability.

Quick note: just a reminder that public men and women say a lot of stuff, loudly, often, and with total, complete,Hillbilly Yentas, Robert E. Lee, and Me utter conviction and not only change their minds but do so with total, complete, utter conviction. Witness this anti-seccessionist sentiment from the 1850s: “…the framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labour, wisdom and forbearance in its formation … if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will.”  That was the immovable stance of one Robert E. Lee, passionately against the seccessionists trying to dismantle that which his father fought so hard to build. Now that it’s the 2010s, maybe we should stop being shocked, shocked, that there’s gambling at Rick’s.

about_alex12Listening to Alex Jones last week – yes, I listen to him a couple of nights a week, rationalize it with ‘anyone who writes fiction should’, but, to be honest, I find him endlessly entertaining – when he launched into one of his ‘history lessons’, ostensibly to support some embryonic conspiracy theory involving Putin, Obama, the Ukraine, NATO, and The New World Order.

Jones explained that Hitler’s biggest mistake was to invade the USSR – but he had to because Stalin had an enormous army and was gearing up to hit Germany ‘any moment.’ The lesson was interrupted by a phone call, the caller corrected Jones with, “Hitler had no choice because the United States was shipping all the latest weapons to Stalin through that North Sea route – Roosevelt was arming Russia, yada, yada, yada . . . to fight the war for us, yada, yada, yada . . . George Soros.”

Jones thanked the caller with, “Wow, you know you’re history, that was it . . ” and tied it all into the United States nyt wwiiinterfering in Russia and much, much, more … This all played out with the usual Jones’ logic and use of facts wherein what he left out was almost as egregious as the crap he made up. The fact side of this: Stalin was caught utterly flat-footed by the attack, his air force was destroyed on the ground (it was antiquated in any event); his men, arms, everything meager and out of date, his officer corps still reeling from his purges. This would account for the fact that the Germans rolled to Moscow in the first months of the invasion, before the weather turned.

The thing he and his caller left out – the USSR was Germany’s ally.  No provisions, supply buildup from the US or Britain, Roadto7no anything, Stalin was allied with Germany, had split Poland with Hitler in 1939. This fact was in all the newspapers.

The problem I have with this, beyond the usual cringing at bad history being used for bad reporting on current events, is this – according to Forbes Jones reaches at least 4 million unique visitors a month. That’s a lot of people and their friends and co-workers and kids and who knows who getting their history from Alex Jones and his caller.

That’s wrong, and scary. Scary because Jones’ ‘narratives’ often end up in the mouths of politicians. Scary because they get in to the mainstream quickly and efficiently and are accepted and repeated by those who don’t know history. Scary because the more that happens, uncorrected, the greater the chance they become accept fact; the more they become accepted fact, the greater the chance they become sacrosanct; the more they become sacrosanct the greater the chance that the guy pointing out they’re wrong is threatened with ‘taring, feathering, and riding out on a pole.’

Just saying.

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