How Political Labels Divide Us


I’m a bit mystified by the mainstream media’s fixation with political labels. Apparently it’s un-PC (politically incorrect) for leftists to support libertarians in their campaign to restore Americans’ constitutional liberties. Most of the commentary on the recent Naomi Wolf/Ron Paul controversy boils down to a debate over the correct labels to assign each of them. I find it interesting that it seems to be male bloggers and blog readers who are the most concerned with labels. Comments from women are more likely to address specific issues where Naomi Wolf and Ron Paul supporters may or may not find common ground in addressing the very serious political and economic problems that confront Americans.
However the clearest pattern that is emerging is that it’s mainly the corporate media, the major political parties or the government propaganda machine that tries to paint grassroots movements (like the Tea Party) with narrow and divisive labels. I frankly believe they do so deliberately – to divide us and get us to fight one another.
The Controversy over Obama’s (Political) Legitimacy
The other important way that the media divides us, as well as distracting us from important life and death issues (such as joblessness, homelessness and hunger), is their selective promotion of “conspiracies.” I’m talking about the bizarre Illuminati type conspiracies – not the real life closed door, un-minuted meetings between corporate lobbyists, federal regulators and members of Congressional oversight committees that seem to have become routine.
An excellent example is the frenzy that right wing talk show hosts have whipped up over an alleged conspiracy the American left hatched in 1966 called the Cloward-Piven strategy. This particular conspiracy theory has been very effectively debunked by Richard Kim in “The Mad Tea Party” in the April 12th edition of The Nation. The conspiracy, originally dreamed up by David Horowitz and widely disseminated by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and other right wing pundits blames an article Cloward and Piven published in 1966 for the October 2008 economic collapse. They claim to have uncovered secret links between Cloward and Piven and the people who founded ACORN (as well as Che Guevara, leaders in SEIU, the Sierra Club and Students for a Democratic Society). The way the conspiracy theory goes is that ACORN is responsible for the economic collapse because they peddled sub-prime mortgages (deliberately because they knew it would bring about economic collapse) to low income minorities. Likewise ACORN and their partners in crime are also responsible for the (illegitimate) election of Barack Obama because, among other activities, they engaged in voter registration drives among minorities.
Another, related example is the continuing controversy over Obama’s birth certificate, his use of his Indonesia name during his undergraduate years at Occidental College and right wing pundits’ (as well as Sarah Palin’s) determination to portray him as a Muslim Marxist determined to destroy American democratic institutions.
The Changing Role of the Mainstream Media
There is absolutely no reason why one of the major networks couldn’t clear up the apparent discrepancies in Obama’s early history with a ten minute interview with the President himself. Frances Piven and the ACORN and other progressive leaders who are being accused of criminal conspiracy also deserve an opportunity to clear their names. Thirty years the major networks took their primary responsibility – of informing and educating the public – far more seriously and would have leapt at the opportunity.
It seems they no long choose to play this role. Speculation over Obama’s legitimacy as president is too useful a distraction – like Tiger Woods extramarital affairs – from the life and death economic issues that presently face our country (more with links at http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com)

Leave a comment