I have to admit that it has become a bit unnerving to write about conspiracy theories as often as I have over the last few months. It begins to feel like a conspiracy theory to keep seeing so many conspiracy theories…until Media Matters took the time to put this clip together:
It is even more disturbing to recognize that they only included items from Fox News. As I’ve pointed out previously, the right wing propaganda machine that pumps out these conspiracy theories is massive and has now even taken up residence in the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal.
Tom Toles is right to suggest that this is why “we can’t just discuss things like reasonable adults.” His talent as a visual artist obviously includes the ability to paint a powerful picture with words.
This is jaw-droppingly beyond irrational. This is a rusty razor being violently drawn back and forth across the throat of American discourse. No, there is no way to have a normal discussion with these people. They are using their words and their platform to poison not just discourse but American justice itself.
As gruesome as that word picture is, I think he’s captured the essence of what is happening to political discourse in this country and reminded us just how shocking the situation has become.
The problem is, no one knows what to do about it in a democracy that values free speech and a free press. Here’s how Toles ends his piece:
This is not a conversation that is possible to pursue. They have made into a zero-sum, us-vs.-them battle for power.
So a battle for power it will be.
It’s not clear what he means by that. The power that is available to us is to speak out against the poison and tell the truth. I do my best at least five days a week to exercise that power. Most of those days I recognize that, while it might help maintain the sanity of those who already agree with me, we’re not making much headway otherwise.
Over the years Obama used to talk optimistically about the fever breaking. But it hasn’t yet. So I can’t really see how the poisoning of our discourse ends. Is this simply the new normal we have to get used to?