What Climate Change, Gun Violence and Racial Polarization Have in Common
You can’t miss the message if you track Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and the many lesser beings occupying right wing media space and their candidate surrogates. Climate change is a fraud invented by the left. Gun violence has nothing to do with background checks and manufacturer responsibility. Race is yesterday’s issue trumped up for political gain.
But in the real world, even in tiny Oracle, Arizona, population 3,500 where I live, climate change, guns and racial polarization all have explosive local impacts right now. An extended drought has killed hundreds of old oaks as the desert marches up the backside of the Santa Catalina foothills, A troubled woman blows away her neighbor in a drunken fit of gun violence. A neighborhood watch is led by a man who describes Michelle Obama as a “Ghetto whore” and calls for the hanging of the President on his Facebook page.
Farther afield, gun violence is rampant year round, forests are burning in fire season, oceanside communities are drowning and racial divisions are flaring.
So how come the trifecta of denial runs so fast and hard around the political race track?
My answer. Because political advantage, mountains of money and socio-cultural pathology are all at work in the complex DNA of the denial rackets.
As an orchestrated attack mantra, the trifecta works for the perpetrators by enriching commercial mouthpieces, securing base votes and entering the collective psyche of some American voters at a pre-conscious level.
Prospects for a reality based intervention hang in the balance.
Is planet earth nearing rock bottom as environments that support human habitation are threatened? Is gun violence and gun worship so pervasive that wounded communities are ready to alter the conditions that drive the bloodshed? Are racial divisions and dispositions so apparent in law enforcement, schools and blighted neighborhoods that potentially fatal threats to the nation’s social fabric energize redress?
The ground level fuel load is there. The preparation, analysis and institutional engagement that must be LOCALLY GROUNDED to make a scalable difference IS NOT. At least not yet.
In each case the trifecta of denial is met by disorganized, incapacitated, de-skilled communities. In each case the big players - big in money, notoriety, strategic control - diminish or dismiss the arduous, gut check work that is primarily local in nature. In each case the false prophets of denial have cash and media connects to spare. The kind of local activity that is the most promising pathway to breakthrough confrontation/intervention is shattered by narrowly interested players playing outsized roles.
Treated independently, opponents of the trifecta lose power political potency as constituencies are bifurcated and strategic confusion holds sway. Understood as diverse outcroppings of market fundamentalism they begin to cohere.
As of now, the extreme right, with its integrated narrative of denial, drives public political reaction while fracturing the opposition. Successfully concealed is the power and money that manufacture denial.
Meanwhile, big money media campaigns targeting isolated parts of the trifecta of denial aid and abet what the extreme right actively perpetrates. Some are full of contradictions like Michael Bloomberg who finances an anti-gun media campaign on the one hand while backing oil, gas and other extractive corporate interests with far greater financial horsepower on the other. Others, like the Koch Brothers are all in for gangbusters fossil fuel extraction business.
Human timber - often crooked, insecure, fearful - with false images of potency and technological control, serves as the scaffolding of the trifecta of denial. Signs of a deeper cultural identity crisis - personal, institutional and social - abound. If the problem is a culture of denial rooted in market fundamentalism, then gaining traction in the larger struggle for an integrated counter narrative is key. This, coupled with the localizing of constructive response to climate change, gun violence and racial polarization in ways that are strategic, institutional, educational is a central challenge of our time.
Neither political party in the USA is up to it. So who is?
Copyright © 2015 | Alinsky Now, All rights reserved.
Frank C. Pierson, Jr.
Frank Pierson retired after forty years of work with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) as a professional organizer. He began his career in 1971 in Chicago, moved to Queens, New York City and migrated west to work in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado. He resides with his wife, Mary Ellen Kazda, in Oracle, Arizona. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org