A couple of years back in Auburn, an Alabama Crimson Tide football fan who was angry at an Auburn Tigers victory over his team in the Iron Bowl decided to destroy something dear to Auburn and their fans. The oak trees at Toomer's Corner are where Auburn fans gather to celebrate victories by the Tigers. Harvey Updyke, a retired Texas state trooper no less, poisoned the trees with a large dose of herbicide.
You're probably wondering what this has to do with politics and you might be asking if I've poured a second glass of Jameson as I'm typing this. This is actually a fairly decent analogy to describe what I feel is going on within the liberal/progressive movement right now, especially when it comes to media. When you (the GOP) are outnumbered and watching your voting bloc shrivel every day due to old age, other tactics come into play. Voter suppression is too obvious and Fox News is a joke to most outside the GOP base.
You see, Mr. Updyke couldn't take down these trees with a chainsaw as it would have quickly alerted the community and got him placed in handcuffs after a couple slices with the saw. If you've seen the oak trees down South, they're massive and ancient with deep roots. Just like the progressive movement, they can stand up to all but the worst storms.
But what if you poisoned the tree or infected it with some virus? If Mr. Updyke hadn't called into a radio station to brag about it, he would have almost certainly got away with it and the trees would have died a slow death or been toppled by the next strong storm.
There's some clues that cause me to believe that perhaps a similar poisoning is happening with a dumbing down of the progressive dialogue through some media sources that seem like nothing more than a liberal mirror of Fox, Breitbart, Glenn Beck or Drudge. Instead of concentrating on an intelligent and inclusive debate to move our country forward, they instead manipulate those prone to group-think in order to exclude debate, as well as any competition. (Yes, if anyone tells you they're in media but they aren't there to make money, they're almost certainly lying) It's a "4 legs good, 2 legs bad" scenario which encourages sycophancy and discourages anything other than that sycophancy which includes the whole "like and share if you agree" thing on every single link that absolutely grinds my gears.
As if that wasn't bad enough, they've commanded their legion of followers to attack anyone who questions the ethics of how they run their operation. I can speak from experience as myself and the admins of my Facebook page, and other pages, have repeatedly been the target of coordinated mass false reports against us for refusing not to be silent as it happens. For nearly a year now, we've received (usually in waves) reports and suspensions for anything from "personal attacks" (telling someone to fuck off), to "hate speech" (for images mocking the KKK) or "spam" (a result of enough people repeatedly reporting specific links as spam).
"Why can't everyone just get along and work together?" Trust me, we've heard this so many times from people who just don't grasp what goes on behind the scenes or think that removing the rotten limbs from the figurative tree will hurt the cause. They couldn't be more wrong. Just look at the Catholic Church and the sex abuse scandals that have plagued them for years now. If they hadn't closed ranks and outed the perpetrators to law enforcement when they knew about it, they wouldn't be in the position they are now.
When you have a rotten apple in your bushel basket, disposing of it preserves the integrity of the rest of the basket. Same with some for-profit web journalism that pushes articles with tabloid-esque titles to attract the maximum number of page views and shares across social media. One page (We Survived Bush, You Will Survive Obama) is a prime example of this. It tends to feature articles that are more "shock jock" than original articles that promote a rational and intellectual conversation. If you've read that page, you've probably seen articles about violence leading to castration or Amazon penis snakes. Another one of the admins who runs a number of Facebook pages you probably see links from on a daily basis is actually a Libertarian in real life according to my sources and makes a living from pushing recycled old news or unsubstantiated articles.
Pages like these do not further the cause, they denigrate it. In fact, they are more interested in finding ways to take over or work with as many Facebook pages as they can then expand their potential audience even further, thereby making even more money on traffic to the sites their articles are hosted on. They also attempt to silence those who don't believe in and speak out against their "our way or the highway" mentality that has stunted the potential further growth of the progressive movement by isolating reasonable centrists, independents and even moderate Republicans. What better way to try to destroy a movement than by poisoning it and driving away people who might find common ground on issues like gun regulations, all while turning a profit in the process?
These are people that seek out any negative comment towards their organizations and harass critics through a variety of methods including coordinated attacks on both the pages as well as fans who post anything they don't like. Personally, if you don't like what I write and have a reasonably civil and smart critique of it, you're always welcome to offer a rebuttal. That's how a debate works. That's how our process works on our page and that's how it should work elsewhere. Obviously someone who comes in swinging and tossing insults will be banned.
Political activism shouldn't be about silencing voices of dissent and promoting the approved repeated chorus of "Democrats good, Republicans bad" as you push article after pay per ad click article which poses as news. This is why, over and over again, a number of progressives such as myself have posted about this subject. It isn't because we're looking to make money and it isn't because we want some limelight or a chance to be on Bill Maher or Rachel Maddow's show. This is why you've heard people complain about images they created being taken and passed off by other pages as their own. This is why you now see pages putting watermarks and their Facebook URL on pictures they post, as well as openly feuding with other supposedly like-minded pages. It's because of unscrupulous individuals taking the work of others to drive traffic to their pages, and increase the number of viewers of their articles, which then makes them ever more money. If they were truly about just furthering the cause, they wouldn't try to stifle, absorb or exclude voices outside of their clique.
Whether or not people like this are poison planted or just rotten eggs that we've allowed to remain in the system, criticizing them in attempt to prune them from the tree of the liberal/progressive movement is just common sense. Either way, it's time to get the chainsaw.