Monday, August 25, 2014

The Booming White Grievance Industry

In the lead up to the 2014 mid-term elections the GOP base is showing its ugly face in the wake of justifiable unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and the usual suspects are eagerly fanning the flames of white grievance among those who my New Orleans belle grandmother would have derisively labeled as "white trash."  Everyone from Fox News to the KKK and numerous GOP candidates and elected officials are having a near orgasm whipping up the frenzy of hate and resentment.  A piece in Salon looks at the ugly phenomenon.  Here are excerpts:
Not surprisingly, a thriving franchise of the nation’s booming white grievance industry has opened up in Ferguson, Missouri, over the last week.  It’s worth examining closely. As usual, it consists of two parts lies, one part paranoia, but at its heart it’s a big grift.

The weekend featured multiple protests supporting Darren Wilson, the missing Ferguson police officer who shot an unarmed Mike Brown on Aug. 9. His superiors apparently withheld Wilson’s name long enough for him to delete all social media accounts and skip town, but his supporters are declaring Wilson, not Brown, the victim here. A GoFundMe site raising funds for Wilson’s defense – though he’s not been charged with anything – garnered not only $250,000 in donations, but so many ugly racist rants GoFundMe administrators had to disable comments for the site. (They’ll have no trouble taking a cut of the racists’ money, of course.) Wilson’s supporters say they’ve raised $374,000 online and at local events, “to support his family,” one woman told MSNBC.

Why, besides racism, are Wilson’s supporters so convinced of his innocence? Well, any good grift will involve a hoax or two, to gin up the sense of outrage. First there was “Josie,” a purported friend of Wilson’s who called in to a radio show helmed by gun-loving wingnut Dana Loesch to tell Wilson’s side of the story. “Josie” insisted that Brown attacked Wilson, grabbed his gun, and the terrified cop shot only in self-defense. The problem? The details were almost identical to those shared on a fake Facebook page set up to look like Wilson’s own. But before the tale could be debunked, not only Fox but CNN had reported on “Josie’s” tale with some credulity.

Then we saw right-wing blogger Jim Hoft, named “the dumbest man on the Internet” by Media Matters, peddling a phony X-ray or CT scan purporting to show that Wilson suffered a fractured eye socket scuffling with Brown. Unfortunately, a little sleuthing revealed the image in question came from a facility at the University of Iowa and had nothing to do with the Ferguson case. Oops. Of course Fox ran with the story, but ABC News also reported that Wilson had suffered a “serious facial injury,” claiming its own local source.

Of course Ferguson’s white grievance industry is getting major help from Fox News, the grievance industry’s biggest grifters. . . . .  Fox has peddled every allegation of wrongdoing by Mike Brown from the beginning of the story.

It’s worth noting the way the phony information and paranoia peddled by well-known, oft-discredited right-wing media activists like Hoft and Loesch makes its way into the mainstream media ecosphere, again and again.

All that media support fanned the flames of white paranoia that manifested in the pro-Wilson activities back in Ferguson and St. Louis. You could see the trademark combination of innocence, fear and near-hysteria that powers the white grievance industry.  . . . most Wilson supporters refused to tell journalists their names, claiming they fear retribution at the hands of Brown’s defenders.

That paranoia about retribution is shared by the backers of Wilson’s GoFundMe project. It’s organized by Shield of Hope, a “charitable organization” that lists Ferguson Police Department public relations officer Timothy Zoll and Missouri state Rep. Jeffrey Roorda as directors. Roorda became nationally known for a 2009 bill that tried to keep the name of police officers involved in shootings private, because “releasing a name could put someone in grave jeopardy,” he explained.

The phenomenon - and those who are making money from it - is disgusting.  Although I've seen no corroborating statistics so far, somehow I suspect that many of these aggressive whites count themselves as "godly Christians" and pat themselves on the back each Sunday as the sit in pews in front of pulpits dispensing hate and fear. 

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