9 August 2007

Republican Luddites

The 21st century has already ushered in a Republican culture of corruption, an illegal immoral invasion of a country that posed no threat to the United States, shredding of the Bill of Rights, the plucking of individuals all around the globe including those in the "homeland" for the purpose of extraordinary rendition, unprecedented executive branch usurpation of the rule of law, a government intent on operating with no transparency while invasively probing into the lives of private citizens without probable cause, and other high crimes committed against Americans to which they are chartered to serve. Recent outrages include subcontracting slave labor to build an Iraqi embassy, the Pat Tillman coverup, and the nation's leading law officer, Alberto Gonzalez, who can't seem to utter a truthful word.

But, the topic today is centered on how Republicans are intent on capturing another title, pridefully hoisting a banner to signify their "internet Luddite" status. It must be part of the Karl Rove/Roger Ailes talking points, because there's been full frontal assault of late, by the dinosaur media defenders, on internet speech. Fox News Channel Bill O'Reilly has played his part, calling out Democratic blogger Daily Kos, labeling it a bastion of hate. All, from what I can tell, based on a few stray comments posted in a public forum or a user diary. Comparing those remarks, which incidentally, are tame and timid compared to comment blasts on some popular right wing sites, particularly those championed by white supremacists and/or the anti-immigration crowd (though, certainly not all, and I will not impugn all), to Nazis, in effect invoking Godwin's Law. Meanwhile, O'Reilly makes no mention of conservative radio hosts, granted large blocks of radio air time, who are on record for making racist slurs. Seems to be a bit hypocritical to equate a web site publisher who has questionable reader comments with declared xenophobia. Somehow, I think it was an orchestrated ploy, whether by Republican media managers or perhaps it was Fox News Channel brain child, to coincide with the yearly Kos convention.

Then, there is the Republican presidential candidates snubbing of debates. Now, I can see why Giuliani would cower and flee, as an open public forum might enable NY firefighters to take their displeasure with the ex-mayor to the TV realm. The others, however, seem to be reading from the latest Republican playbook, except for Mitt Romney, who seems to have confused with myspace. Not a peep from McCain either, who was crowing earlier about how he wanted to be the youTube presidential candidate, though he's been buried by the outlier Ron Paul, who enjoys solid net support.

Sampling conservative talk radio, the meme being transmitted is that internet debates debase the whole presidential affair. That bloggers, posting away in their anonymous cubbyholes are just a vile cauldron of hate propagators. Republican loyalists stop short of totally tarnishing the medium as a unredeemable sewer, but earnestly maintain that the professional caste of which they are members of, are perched above the general rabble. And one can discern this trend further in lefty vs. right wing blogs, where in the heavily traffic conservative online locales, comments are not permitted, or heavily censored. The same cannot be said for online communities left of center, that seem to relish doing verbal battle with conservative posters who dive in against the tide.

While personally, I believe the whole idea of a 2008 presidential campaign being waged in year 2007 is absolutely insane, it is striking to see Republicans attack the open forum. I suppose there is a two pronged attack, to eventually shepherd loyalists to preferred, controlled and neutered online sandboxes, while tarring political opponents as agents of hate.

These recent political developments are illustrative of how many still don't get the internet. How they are blind to the "many to many" feature of it, an unprecedented development in media that enables instant global dialog, given the financial blessing to be able to afford the prerequisite technology. Or, in more sinister fashion, and as some have speculated, a concerted rebellion by elites to thwart an open democratic forum, to instead, channel people back to official channels only. Either way, it's an affront to any free thinking person.