Election of the nation’s first black President has awakened primal suspicions and fears among a significant section of America’s white population. But there’s more to the current epidemic of rage than racism.
My first impulse was to dismiss yesterday’s “conservative march on Washington” (photo below) as a fantasy festival staged by loons. But, as Alex Koppelman wrote in Salon.com today, the marchers are not all insane:
At one point in the afternoon, a CNN employee stood on the sidewalk in front of the bus, a bemused look on his face despite the crowd of about 20 people that had gathered to hurl various insults at him and his company. One woman was there dressed as the Grim Reaper; she carried a sign that declared “Journalism died: 2008.”
Of course, since I was dressed for work and standing there holding a pad on which I was taking notes, the crowd made me for a reporter too, and there was some ire directed my way as well — some in good humor, some not so much. Then a young woman who declined to give her name pulled me aside.
“I just wanted to let you know there are some normal people here to protest government spending,” she said. Identifying herself as part of a local chapter of the College Republicans, she added, “We’re not all nuts. I just wanted to let you know that.”
She was right, too. Not everyone at the protest was “nuts,” not by a long shot.
So why would supposedly sane people join a movement based on so many rabidly insane ideas? Obviously, misinformation – or rather disinformation – is one reason. For-profit rabble rousers like Glenn Beck of Fox News are fanning the flames of conservative dissent with outrageous lies and phantasmagoric insinuations. But the fury burns deeper, and there is some real fuel sustaining it.
The fact is that so much goes on that the public doesn’t know about, so much is done in the shadows, that I can understand why conspiracy theories abound and outlandish rumors persist. I consider myself relatively sane – at least on my good days – and I am tempted to think the worst when I read about witnesses in political cases suddenly “dying,” as I did this morning.
The Associated Press reported that a key figure in the federal corruption case against ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, died Saturday, and that his death was being investigated as a suicide. Christopher Kelly (photo at left) was found critically wounded in a lumber yard parking lot and died later in hospital. He had been convicted of fraud and was to begin his prison term in a week.
I suppose it’s reasonable for a disgraced businessman to kill himself rather than go to prison, and it’s possible he would choose the parking lot of a lumber yard for his suicide. But I couldn’t help thinking of all the convenient “suicides” and other events we learn about from time to time. The Jack Ruby story came to mind. Wasn’t it strange that a hood like Ruby would gun down Lee Harvey Oswald on moral grounds (photo below)? And wasn’t it convenient that Ruby developed cancer and died days before his trial?
I could not possibly mention all of America’s suspicious political deaths in a blog. It would take a book – and a pretty thick one at that. And how about the revelations of CIA torture, secret prisons in foreign countries, identity changes in witness protection programs, covert meetings of the world’s richest and most powerful financiers, vanishing bailout billions, bundles of cash disappearing in Iraq, poppy fields flourishing in Afghanistan… and on and on? If so much leaks out, who knows what might be going on under the radar?
Could the government really be building underground internment camps and stockpiling guillotines, as some Americans are suggesting? And if so, to what end? Is it part of a plan to create a New World Order? A fulfillment of Biblical prophecy about the End Times? Nobody knows what’s going on, and so everyone has a theory – or so it seems.
But there’s one thing the protesters have overlooked. Whatever is going on, it was going on long before Barack Obama became President. So why make him the target of all of this frustration and rage? I can’t help feeling it’s because he’s black.