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Monday, August 13, 2012

Fourth Estate collusion in conspiracy, bigotry must stop

Stop “demonizing ‘other’”
Excerpt, editing by Carolyn Bennett 

From Chip Berlet’s “Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism and the Demonized ‘Other’: Parallels among bigotries reflect the conspiratorial mindset” 

Despite repeated historical examples to the contrary ─ especially regarding white racism and anti-immigrant xenophobia ─ we Americans like to tell ourselves we stand against bigotry. 

In the United States today Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia share roles in political discussions founded in conspiracy theories of subversion. Subversion panics spawn counter-subversion movements, sometimes fueling political witch hunts. 

Us/Them: Demonized “other”  “‘They’ always lie to “Us.”
It doesn’t matter who ‘They’ are because one of the hallmarks of bigotry is that ‘Their’ religion or ideology or culture is said to promote lying.  
They can’t be trusted. In fact, they are probably conspiring against us right now.  
They threaten our entire way of life.  
They are not like us.  
They don’t value human life like we do. So to defend our nation, which reflects eternal truths, we must act now before it is too late. Attack first. Our war is justified. God is on our side. 
“That’s the universal narrative of justified aggression against a demonized ‘Other.’”

A lethal mix 

“Conspiracy theories often meld with bigotry and are toxic to democracy.   

“In the worst case scenarios, the universal conspiracy theory narrative that justifies aggression can lead to the expulsion of the dreaded ‘Other’ or even genocide. From Armenia to Germany, to Cambodia, to the streets of Sarajevo, to the killing fields of Rwanda and Darfur—get them before they get us.  

Living in a post-fact society is bad enough (and we must protest this); but living in a post-morality society where corporate media fail to challenge bigotry because bigotry is popular and sells advertising and is an accepted part of the demonizing political warfare that some shamelessly call democratic elections is repulsive. 

No form of religious bigotry should be ignored. Pluralist democracy depends on widespread condemnation of bigotry whenever it appears.

Fourth Estate
A free and independent Press  

When should the press call a blatantly false statement false?  

Isn’t the ethical answer ‘always,’ whether the speaker wears a white hood or the Washington badge of political legitimacy ─ a white clerical collar?  

Fact checking and holding accountable society’s powerful and wealthy in a society is how the press earned its moniker, the Fourth Estate. 

A free press is supposed to be the Fourth Estate that prevents such episodes (conspiracy theories melding with bigotry, demonizing ‘other’) of authoritarianism and oppression in society. The idealized role of a free press in a democracy is to provide enough facts to enable citizens to make informed decisions. 

Governance is supported by informed consent. This is not what exists today in the United States of America.

The term Fourth Estate is an institution which may not have official recognition. It has been used in earlier times to refer to lawyers, to the common masses and even to the British queen who acts without the intervention of the king.  
However, Fourth Estate is used more commonly to refer to print journalism and media which includes the journalists, photographers, radio announcers, television news broadcasters and so on. The press is responsible for making or breaking governments and hence one cannot undermine the political and social power it wields. http://www.innovateus.net/innopedia/what-importance-fourth-estate

Sources and notes 

Emphasis added by editor 

“Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism and the Demonized ‘Other’: Parallels among bigotries reflect the conspiratorial mindset” (Chip Berlet), Magazine Extra! August 2012, http://www.fair.org  

Chip Berlet has written about bigotry for over 30 years, and has just completed a Political Research Associates study on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia on campus. Additional resources for this article are at http://www. researchforprogress.us/jump/fair2012.html 

Chip Berlet  

An investigative journalist and photojournalist-activist, John Foster “Chip” Berlet (b. November 22, 1949) specializes in the study of right-wing movements in the United States (particularly the religious right, white supremacists, homophobic groups, and paramilitary organizations); and studies the spread of conspiracy theories in the media including on the Internet and political cults on the political right and left. He is the co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort and editor of Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chip_Berlet

A related thought by Lindsay Beyerstein 

In a Lapham Quarterly (blog) essay, Gregory Shaya “rejects both the romantic assumption that an uncensored press is all we need for a free society and the suspicion that the media are systematically manipulating public opinion in the interests of the real Masters of the Universe: 
‘We’re surrounded by fantasies and phantasms of press power, blinded by the liberal dream of the Fourth Estate and its evil doppelganger, the specter of media control. The impact of the media turns out to be much less and much more than these visions allow.’ 
“Shaya argues that the press is actually much less influential than most people assume. His main point seems to be that the press (the Fourth Estate) is not influential enough to qualify as one of the great Estates of society, on par with a branch of government.… The press acting as a check on presidential power was evident, though, in the Nixon era: “Despite his best efforts, [former U.S. President Richard M.] Nixon could not stop a whistleblower from going to the press.” “The Myth of the Fourth Estate? (By Lindsay Beyerstein), April 10, 2012, http://www.inthesetimes.com/duly-noted/entry/13018/the_myth_of_the_fourth_estate/


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