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Wednesday, Jul. 23, 2014 — RUSSELL SPRINGS & JAMESTOWN, KENTUCKY —
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Seems To Me ... Societal division is competeing realitites
In March 5 Issue
By John Thompson, Columnist

With the lack of coverage in the media, you'd almost never guess there is a strong contingent of military personnel who are opposed to our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there is. You don't get a picture of the bigger battle being waged in Wisconsin and throughout the states. From what I hear you are getting a lot of Charlie Sheen though.

You haven't heard much coverage of the American who killed two people in Pakistan who claims to be a "diplomat" have you? European and Pakistani news sources are saying he was in fact a CIA agent and the two he killed were Pakistani intelligence officials. Some reports say they were following Raymond Davis because contact had been made between his cell phone and known members of Al Qaeda.

Like I said, you'll not see it in the media. But then again, what do you see in the news? It's becoming glaringly apparent to Americans that the media is not "liberal." It's also becoming apparent that Fox News deals in serving up an alternate reality that makes for an odd situation, as I've come to understand it lately.

It used to be that fringe elements didn't get much of a voice, whether so called "left" or "right." Conspiracy theorists and those with radical authoritarian, xenophobic, racist or otherwise "out there" view points were marginalized. They could construct their little paranoid world but the larger world would continuously intrude upon them.

Take the "Birchers," members of the John Birch Society so prominent in the late 1950's and 1960's. Certainly they espoused some ideals and policies that, while many agree or disagree to a greater or lesser extent, at least made rational sense. Oh, things like governing according to the Constitution, limited government, strong national defense and such.

But there was another element of the Birchers which often got them characterized as tin foil hat wearing, paranoid lunatics. For one thing they would self perpetuate a paranoia, feeding on themselves and each other, that communists were absolutely everywhere, even going as far as claiming President Eisenhower to be a communist (though I don't know if he refused to show his birth certificate), or that our involvement in Vietnam, against communism, was in fact a communist plot aimed at taking over the United States.

If you read up on the Birchers you'll recognize the sentiment, if not the movement, is still alive and well today. Actually the movement is still alive but they have very little influence organizationally. I think they can get cheap advertisement time on the Glenn Beck program between the gold commercials if they want.

The whole point of all that was to say this; back then in order to construct an alternate "unreal" reality, fringe types were constantly intruded upon by the real world. But these days that does not have to be the case. Whereas then everything would have been distributed almost entirely in the written form, these days a fringe movement can have an entire network of support systems set up to reinforce a delusional perception.

Now I can watch Fox News, read my Newsmax magazine, tune in a.m. radio to just about any station and visit all my right wing websites, all designed to reinforce my understanding of the world. And what does that understanding consist of? Liberals are bad, immigrants are… wait, "illegal" immigrants are bad, public radio or television is bad, programs that see to the needs of the poor, especially pregnant ones are bad, Obama is a Muslim, a foreigner a New World Order(er), the almost extinct unions are killing the country, teachers are bad… you know, I could go on and on.

I remember growing up, and it was just after the whole 60's movement and I wondered how the United States could be as divided as I heard and read about. I didn't realize until it happened to us that a large part of it is a divergence of what constitutes reality. Of course you could say it's a difference of opinion of what's going on and how things should be dealt with, but if you're involved in much discussion you quickly learn it's more than that.

There is a base of information, a foundation that separates the two sides. And try as I might I do have a difficult time understanding the other side. And mind you, this is coming from a guy who actually does try to listen to the other side, but honestly the voice that is given to the other side consists of people like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. I don't see these guys as the voice of reason.

To me they are the voice of obfuscation, racism and an ability to turn logic upside down in the case of Rush Limbaugh; over-the-top patriotism, Republican Party loyalty above all else and boring mantra repeating Sean Hannity; and, well, just plain nutjob, tin foil hat wearing Glenn Beck. Oh I know that's going to get some people mad. It's not like I'm the only one saying it, though I've certainly been saying it for a while.

I do understand that my condemnation isn't helping. If there's something I'm well aware of it's that most all of us face the same problems when it comes to how this country is going wrong; it's just how we perceive it that is the problem.

I think, and many millions of us liberal, progressive types think that we've handed over our government to the rich and to corporations. We believe there is a vast network of devices set up to propagandize the masses into being brainwashed against their own best interests (how's that for sounding like one of the fringe? Ha!).

To the right it's almost the polar opposite. The special interests such as unions, illegals and environmentalists, Hollywood and the immoral Godless are running the show, driving the country into the toilet.

Half believe the former, half believe the latter. Except of course for those who pit the former against the latter, and vice-versa.

They just keep soaking up the wealth.

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