By: Lisa M. Hayes – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
I would like to say I try harder than I do. However, when it comes to people who spew angry conservative rhetoric online, I have a hard time talking myself into not “othering” them. My patience for the “lock her up” crowd are completely gone, not because I love Hillary so much, but because the visceral hate and rage coming from that corner of the conservative campfire frightens me – as in for real. I’m afraid.
There is nothing like being the editor of a liberal online news site that will teach you very quickly how ugly it gets. I learned within a week I didn’t want to allow comments on our site, no matter how important it was for our search engine optimization. No one wants to moderate that. I’m fine with discourse. In fact, I welcome it. I think it’s important. However, the fire, rage, and racism that comes from certain parts of the right aren’t acceptable and I won’t give it a platform on Confluence Daily.
At first, I approached some of the commenters on our page and Facebook like people I could have a conversation with. However, it wasn’t long before the only way I could stomach it was to think of them as Russian bots because surely real humans I share a country with wouldn’t say or even think those things – except they do. So, we quit engaging at all.
There are four primary tactics of a hateful conservative online freedom fighter.
#1. Hillary, (they like to refer to her as my Queen or my Savior), is a criminal and even if we were launching our first missiles in a nuclear war, the first and only priority should be to lock her up.
#2. Obama is a Muslim – therefore Satin. Full stop.
#3. Immigrants are bad, bad, bad. Black and brown people are scary and do terrible things. They are taking over so we have to put up walls. If you don’t believe it, ask Trump.
#4. Hollywood is the inner sanctum of hell and the media, Congress, most college professors, and Snopes all lie. Nothing they say is true. It is all fake news.
All that matters here is #4. There is no conversation with someone who believes they know every single thing there is to know because their President told them what to think.
And I know this, but…
Recently, as a Friday afternoon gift after a hard week, my husband allowed me to respond to a hate-filled comment a former classmate of his from high school had posted on a photo regarding immigration on my husband’s Facebook page. Even though I no longer entertain the vitriol on the Confluence Daily platform, I am not proud to admit, sometimes just for sport, I enjoy a good social media brawl with a stranger just to work out some of my own anger.
Usually, I reserve that kind of stranger abuse for fake millionaire catfishing asshats that like to friend up women on Facebook for dubious purposes. However, on this particular Friday, I was more than happy to take out my aggressions on an immigrant hating racist my husband once knew.
Almost sixty comments back and forth later, I realized there was no joy in the debate. I sent this person news stories and articles from more than 25 separate news sources, including Miltary.com and The Bush Foundation website. None of it landed. Don’t judge me for my back-ally comment fight with an idiot. I said all the things you wish you could a lot of the time. You can thank me later.
It ended when my right wing, wingnut “friend” started repeatedly telling me I was ignorant. I enlisted the help of family members to assist me in causing him a heart attack after he expressed he was very angry multiple times and suggested I was causing him a severe headache. The last comment exchanged was from my sister who boldly told him he didn’t want to get in an IQ competition with me – actually, it stopped when my child threw up a stop sign emoticon at the bottom of the comments.
-Note to self: Be nice to my sister.
The bottom line for this man is, no matter what the logic or source, his truth is: Democrats are pussies. Anyone who doesn’t agree that liberals should all die along with Hillary or move is brainwashed by the media.
Trump doesn’t have to say anything credible after he throws out the words, “fake media”. After that, he is King. If you question the King you should just get out.
And here’s the thing: I am getting out. I’m not moving because of that guy. I’m leaving the U.S. as soon as my home sells because no matter who the President is, I’m shaken by the reality that there are thousands more just like that man. They’re crawling out of the dark onto social media and into the streets more and more by the day. I do not want to live with them. So, yes, as for me and my fam, we are taking our toys and leaving the country. I’m happy to be some other county’s immigrant. However, I digress…
When a sitting U.S. President discredits the free and unbiased media, he is trying to make himself a King, or something worse.
An agitated man accused the press of lying. He pointed out that reports claiming that the administration wanted to keep its people uninformed were incorrect and came from a “small group of intellectuals and professional naysayers.” The purpose of these false stories was to drive a wedge between the people and their leader. Furthermore, the man ranted, if one were to believe what the press wrote, it would appear that another world war was imminent. Nothing could be further from the truth, he added.
That man was German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and the date was February 25, 1939. World War II began just over six months later.
Obviously, somebody was clearly lying back then, but it wasn’t the “Lügenpresse” (lying press) that Goebbels was referring to. The history books will tell that story forever.
So, today the term is being used again — this time by the alt-right, i.e., the ideological descendants of the guy Goebbels worked for – you know, Hitler. For the record, those people don’t deny they are devotees of Nazi idealism. They’ve got no problem carrying that flag in public.
Make no mistake, the German propaganda chief saying Lügenpresse (he was referring to US, French and British news outlets) and President Donald Trump calling the media “fake news” has the same purpose — to destroy the institution that stands between him and unmitigated power.
Yes, the news is reported by humans who have biases. However, calling outlets like CNN and The New York Times “fake news” is not simply irresponsible. It is also dangerous, especially when the person who does it is the president of the United States. In doing so Trump is undermining a free press — a cornerstone of US democracy and freedom.
While I don’t think believing everything reported by media is a good idea for anyone, discounting all of it is tantamount to voluntarily surrendering freedom. I don’t like Fox News. However, I concede they should exist. I’m more of a Palmer Report girl myself. But I believe we should all have the ability to cross check our news sources through a strong free press.
“We have to uphold a free press and freedom of speech – because, in the end, lies and misinformation are no match for the truth.” Barack Obama
“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy,” Said George Bush. “That we need the media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.”
“We are living through an all-out war on truth, facts and reason,” Hillary Clinton said. “When leaders deny things we can see with our own eyes, like the size of a crowd at the inauguration, when they refuse to accept settled science when it comes to urgent challenges like climate change … it is the beginning of the end of freedom, and that is not hyperbole. It’s what authoritarian regimes through history have done.”
Ronald Reagan said: “Since the founding of this nation, freedom of the press has been a fundamental tenet of American life.
There is no more essential ingredient than a free, strong and independent press to our continued success in what the founding fathers called our ‘noble experiment’ in self-government.
Both the governments of many nations and certain international organizations advocate or enforce policies alien to a free flow of ideas. This promotion of censorship reflects a manifest fear of the truth and depreciation of the great importance of liberty to human advancement.”
But what do those people know??
President Trump dubbed the news media “the enemy of the American people” in a tweet. “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” he wrote.
That should be shocking, but we’ve heard it so much it’s not anymore.
The fact that we aren’t shocked is terrifying, especially in a historical context.
How do you win a fight on Facebook with a Right Wing Wing Nut?
You don’t. Don’t bother trying.
If you need to have an online brawl to burn off a bad mood, then go for it.
We cannot save our democracy with online comment wars with strangers. There isn’t enough air or keystrokes in the world to convert the nutjobs who cannot or will not read and learn.
We can defend our democracy by defending our free media.
We can’t let a man with a two-word rallying cry, “Fake News” destroy our democracy.
This fragile democracy we are trying to save, or maybe resuscitate, was built on the vision of our founding fathers. So, maybe they can ignore Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and Obama. However, we’d be wise to hear the words of Thomas Jefferson who said a free press protects all of our freedoms.
Not everything they write can be the truth. Journalists are human. However, the body of the work of a free press IS the truth. As long as we defend the press, the truth will do what it does, it becomes light in the dark.
Light always wins, even in Trump’s America.
Pay for the subscriptions.
Check and double check your media. Maybe even check FOX News occasionally.
Do not let him normalize delegitimizing the free press because they are the thing that stands between us and replaying a very dark chapter in the history of humanity.
More by Lisa:
Lisa M. Hayes, Senior Editor of Confluence Daily.
Confluence Daily is the one place where everything comes together. The one-stop for daily news for women.