Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Panic in the Streets


There is a great deal of anger in America.  People are outraged.  Hysteria has become common place.  Almost everywhere we find politicians, political pundits, friends and even family members making outrageous comments about how this or that will destroy America.

While rhetoric such as this may seem comical at times, the anger is very real, and it is rather scary.  Consider the recent raid by Michigan police on individuals described as “a group of apocalyptic Christian militants who were plotting to kill law enforcement officers in hopes of inciting an antigovernment uprising.” And, in case you missed it, the  Department of Homeland Security reports a rise in activity among such groups, which is common during economic hard times.

America’s current panic attack, like so many in our history, is the result of a variety of forces, including political propaganda designed to turn ordinary folks into an angry mob.  Mobs, like mad dogs, do not listen to reason, they just attack.

History is filled with angry mobs and propaganda designed to panic the common man.  Consider the Boston Massacre, an event that helped start the American Revolution.  Five colonists died, and as many as nine others were wounded, but was it a massacre?   No.  Evidence suggests that it was a terrible accident committed by frightened British soldiers confronted by an angry mob. 

Propaganda has been used many times in the past to create panic among the populous in order to crush the campaigns of labor activists, civil rights workers and others promoting peaceful change.  The Loray Mill Strike, as I described in a recent essay, is just one of thousands of such events that can be found in our history books – except of course in Texas, but I digress. 

In a world of instantaneous communication, a single sound bite has the potential of starting a revolution, especially when people do not take the time to think about the information being presented, simply accepting or rejecting it based on the source, and  passing it on.

Do we really want another American Revolution?

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