Monday, August 20, 2007

Through a Glass Darkly

The dichotomy of world-views between those who stay truly informed and those who remain stubbornly un-informed via FOX News or Rush Limbaugh is sometimes easy to overlook. I read widely for news and information as do most of the people whose blogs I read and most of those who comment here.

But a recent couple of posts over at Talking Points Memo highlighted that dichotomy in a way that literally had me shaking my head. You can read those posts here and here. But the upshot is that for the Republican "base," the threat "if we don't fight them there, they will follow us home" is no empty rhetorical turn of phrase. They are truly afraid of the "World-wide Caliphate" imposed by radical islamists.

While most of us would just roll our eyes at such a fear, the base has little reason to think otherwise. The great right-wing spin machine feeds that fear without reference to the reality of current Islamic states. Considered critically, it's easy to see that there are no Islamic states with anything like the military-industrial capability to create such an empire. They are all third-world countries propped up by Petro-dollars or dictators stoking the fear of a "Crusade" against Islam from the outside world. And all of them keep their citizens subdued with cash (think Saudi Arabia) or radical Islam (see Iran) and most of all an iron fist.

I'm not sure what can be done about this ignorance... Republicans only want schools to graduate young people ready to work, not to think critically and they have so denigrated public education for so long that it could be decades before the system recovers. Media consolidation ensures so much uniformity of poor reporting that there is little chance, for now, that they will be the prescription for a change of mind. And the most recalcitrant of the base refuse to read anything other than the Bible or to hear anything other than FOX News.

So we've wound up with two relatively small populations - one in the Middle East and one in America - who are uninformed, mis-informed, uneducated or under-educated, and kept deathly afraid of the other. Not a prescription for sanity... or peace.

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