Peace and Justice Files

The ring in your nose

By SKIP MENDLER
Posted 6/17/20

“Your fear is a ring in your noseby which you may be led around at will.”

— Hu Sei Dat

Columnists are not exactly essential. So, in these economically unstable times, I count …

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Peace and Justice Files

The ring in your nose

Posted

“Your fear is a ring in your nose
by which you may be led around at will.”

— Hu Sei Dat

Columnists are not exactly essential. So, in these economically unstable times, I count myself very fortunate indeed to have a couple of “essential” part-time jobs that have kept me working pretty steadily during this crisis. In one of these, I am a “direct-care worker.” I visit elderly and disabled clients and assist them with normal daily activities such as cooking, cleaning and personal care. (Note to jobseekers: This is a growth industry and the needs are increasing. Medical training or experience is not required, but patience and openheartedness are. Check it out.)

Another part of the job is frequently providing simple companionship. So, the other day, I was with a client who’s a big country music fan, and they wanted me to listen to a song they liked. The song was “Murder on the Music Row,” as sung by George Strait and Alan Jackson, and it’s a lament about the state of traditional country music. “For the steel guitars no longer cry and fiddles barely play / But drums and rock ‘n roll guitars are mixed up in your face,” say the lyrics, bemoaning the advent of “country pop” back in the ‘90s.

It got me to thinking. It’s a fine song as far as it goes, but not only is it not entirely true, but the song’s very existence actually contradicts its premise. The record, which incidentally was a big hit, features plenty of both steel guitars and fiddles, and while traditional country may have lost some market share since its heyday, there are many younger artists and fans keeping that particular flame alive. No corpse, no murder.

It reminded me a bit of evangelical Christian preachers who declare the impending death of their religion when there are megachurches by the score and Christian radio stations by the thousands thriving across the country.

It seems that the threat of impending doom and the potential loss of something dear and precious makes for a very attractive and effective trope, and folks on all sides of the political spectrum attempt to parlay it to their advantage. It’s almost as if their target audiences kinda want it to be true.

Unfortunately, this tendency leaves us open to malicious manipulation and deceit. I think we saw this dynamic in action recently when small-town protests across the country following the death of George Floyd were hit by similar disinformation campaigns, including right here in Honesdale. Rumors of imminent invasion by busloads of urban “Antifa thugs,” black-clad and riot-minded, sent businesses scurrying to board up windows and lock their doors; ultimately, the rumors proved to be unfounded.

Now, here’s the thing: I think that whoever it was that was trying to play on our fears in this way, they themselves are terrified and desperate. The uprising that has been triggered by George Floyd’s murder—a real murder—is genuine and powerful and has the potential to create lasting, significant and positive social change. And they know it.

Let’s proceed. Fearlessly.

(PS. David Harvey of Honesdale has put together more information about the “Antifa bus hoax.” Please see his webpage at www.amplector2020.wordpress.com.)

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