LUMPENPROLETARIAT—[October 10, 2020]
Meet Lasse Burholt. He is a right-wing YouTuber and spin doctor, with a growing number of followers. He gathers video clips of white supremacist types, pro-Trump types, “Thin Blue Line” flag-wavers, and other politics, which advance the cause of right-wing values and/or undermine Black Lives Matter (BLM). He seems to understand there’s a hungry market out there for confirmation bias. And he seems to throw pieces of red meat at his hungry followers feeding on sensationalistic street confrontations, not unlike what political scientists call “red meat issues“, which are used to ‘whip up the base into a frenzy‘. Perhaps, people on the Right will say the same thing about BLM or CopWatch, et al focusing on the crimes of police agencies. But there is a fundamental difference there. Cops are expected to be held to a higher standard. Cops are supposed to be policing by consent, not by totalitarian power. And we do not see any moral equivalence between the principled moral call for freedom from state violence and the reactionary response, which reflexively claims Blue Lives Matter, which we perceive as an effort to negate the Black Lives Matter political slogan.
We understand the grievance of Black Lives Matter. It is a grievance, which is valid and justified because black and brown people are gunned down with impunity. But we don’t understand the grievance of this whole Blue Lives Matter reaction, or reactionary force. We hope to dialogue with all Americans and learn more.
Certain Americans want to believe their biases are true. Flag-wavers want their biases confirmed, so YouTubers, like Lasse Burholt, fill a niche and generate some passive income as a bonus. His followers look for videos like the one below to confirm their bias that all BLM types are “crazed” people, who somehow pose an existential threat to America. And the, perhaps sinister, YouTube algorithms designed towards surveillance capitalism, supply our content streams with increasingly insular and self-reinforcing messaging, if we’re not careful. One must consciously periodically reset the algorithm parameters to avoid getting sucked into an echo chamber. Diversity of perspectives is easily erased on social media.
From reading and following various right-wing channels, this is the main message that comes through at this point in 2020: variations of ad hominem attacks against pro-BLM types bolstered by confirmation bias. Obfuscation of reality occurs when a critical mass of anti-BLM opponents focus attention on the lack of decorum among understandbly frustrated Americans. We are talking about millions of BLM protestors. So, it’s not difficult to cherrypick BLM protestors, who appear less than graceful. We contend that these are red herrings, which are designed to mislead or distract away from the real issues at hand, which are historical racism, Jim Crow laws, the New Jim Crow (cf. Dr. Michelle Alexander, et al.), the historical legacy of policing as part of the slave-catching industry in the Antebellum South, which manifests itself today in police agencies fully captured by white supremacists. (cf. Southern Poverty Law Center, et al.) Even your author experienced racial profiling as a youth during the 1990s in the Bay Area. Cops pulled us over in our Impalas every day, often at gunpoint. Imagine that. Imagine if cops decided to pull over and harass the drivers of all lifted trucks every day. (We know it’s hard to imagine, but let’s try. That would be horrible, right?) That would be just as arbitrary, legally speaking, as targeting lowriders. (Please leave a comment, if you can relate or if you can’t. We’ve even been locked up arbitrarily. This is why we must share more personal narratives. The corporate news doesn’t tell us what’s really going on.)
We’ve pointed this out in the comment sections of these right-wing channels; and no one seems to disagree. In other words, when we engage in discussion with right-wing types, we agree on more than we disagree on, despite being on opposite ends of the political spectrum. This is probably because we usually share working class backgrounds, despite divergent ideological perspectives. We all just want an honest day’s work and a fair deal. But they usually won’t denounce President Trump’s racist rhetoric, racism, killer cops, or white supremacy for some reason. (cf. “American Mythology: The Presidency of Donald Trump,” narrated by Jeremy Scahill, Intercepted podcast, 14 OCT 2020) But, often, they just tend to ignore my discussion board comments after that point.
But there seems to be no substantive disagreement on the criminality of an on-duty cop committing murder. There is no meaningful disagreement on that point, only temporal animosities, which seem to be triggered and sustained by atomized news media silos.
Perhaps, too many of us too often narrowly listen to only podcasts and talking heads, which confirm our biases. Glen Greenwald recently pointed out how some 15 million people viewed Joe Rogan’s podcast interview with Edward Snowden last month. That’s many times more viewers than primetime network news on their best night. So, we see atomized news media silos, such as Fox, where more than 95% of viewers vote Republican, and MSNBC where most viewers vote Democrat. And Dr. Peter Phillips (former director of Project Censored; author of Giants: The Global Power Elite) reminds us that “80% of the stories that are coming from television news stories are packaged or prepared by public relations firms working for government or corporations.” So, we understand the American people are being manipulated.
Everyone seems to be preaching to the choir. So, there’s no fundamental disagreement between right-wingers and others on the criminality of on-duty cops committing murder. But there is the atomized news media, which reinforces skewed worldviews based on stereotypes. So, there’s that and, of course, the cancer of racism, which somehow plagues our society; yet, we are meant to believe no white American could possibly be racist in this day and age. Even the hit country group Lady Antebellum, who changed their name to Lady A recently, in the tumult of Black Lives Matter demonstrations, said, ‘Oops, we had no idea we were flirting with romanticizing antebellum slavery culture. We were just into the architecture and clothes and stuff.’ We see what we want to see, until we are challenged, or shaken out of our usual framing of reality, until we have a paradigm shift.
Somehow, when Lasse Burholt features videos of anti-BLM activists driving monster trucks into crowds of BLM demonstrators whilst spraying mace everywhere, somehow the right-wing followers applaud that behavior, not as “crazed” or harassing, much less abusive, but as justified and even patriotic. There seems to be a double standard for decent civil behavior among this right-wing demographic. Anti-BLM types seem to get away with being as abusive as they want, and are, indeed, often enabled by local cops. But you get one BLM activist, who gets in some lady’s face to encourage her to join in the cause of jailing killer cops, a reasonable request, albeit undiplomatically presented, and right-wing types, like Lasse Burholt, do everything they can to portray all BLM activists as “crazed” lunatics.
It’s fascinating to read the comment sections of right-wing YouTube channels, like this one. I wish I could talk to more people on the right, to interview them, to understand their mindset and perspective. The early protests against the lockdown were eye-opening for me, personally, because for the first time in my life, I found myself in the strange dynamic of feeling a certain sense of gratitude for Republican protestors, who were calling for an end to the economic lockdown, which was gratuitously crashing our economy, and which continues causing harm and bankruptcy for many small businesses, causing harm to our school children, and leading to many evictions, foreclosures, and other economic pain. Liberal types didn’t tend to see the economic lockdown, nor the police state response to COVID-19, as tyrannical. Liberals called it “sheltering in place”, fully internalizing the paternalistic behavior of the state. We called it bullshit. The UK’s Lord Sumption corroborated our view on the lockdowns. He had suggested voluntary sheltering of the vulnerable, especially the elderly, not the whole of society.
In California, it was a unilateral decision made by Governor Gavin Newsom, which was ostensibly based on “science and data”. And, yet, doctors, such as Dr. Annie Bukacek (from Montana) were being censored, or marginalized, for questioning the validity of coronavirus declarations on death certificates of individuals with comorbidities.
I call it a lockdown, just like the right-wing folks do. It bears remembering the martial law type legislation passed by Obama’s NDAA Section 1021, which grants government the right to detain anyone anywhere without cause and without habeas corpus, indefinitely. This antidemocratic legislation is sustained, of course, by Republicans. And, now, under the pretext of public health, the state has shown that it can literally crash the economy at will, as easily as throwing a switch on and off, by simply invoking a pandemic threat and imposing a nationwide economic lockdown, however, dubious the statistical or biological evidence may be. At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, President Trump decided not to lead the nation with a unified protocol, but instead kicked the problem down to the individual states, who had little choice in the absence of federal leadership but to appease the most fearful, not to mention reduce city liability. Mayors began locking down local economies, followed by governors also calling for a police state response.
If I need to shelter in place, I will shelter in place. But, if I need to go to work, I will go to work—unless, that is, a tyrannical government doesn’t care if hardworking families go broke, or if small businesses go out of business, and it outlaws economic activity as it did with the lockdowns. Most people agree the U.S. had the worst COVID-19 response of the developed world, when we could’ve implemented the more sensible Taiwanese, German, or Nordic types of responses.
So, we Americans probably agree on more than we disagree. But try practicing civic engagement these days to defy Robert D. Putnam‘s Bowling Alone thesis of declining American civic engagement, or try engaging in First Amendment activity around any meaningful issue these days, and see how the state treats you. With President Trump’s blessing, secret police have been randomly snatching up pro-BLM protestors, as the Department of Justice is designating protest areas “anarchist jurisdictions”.
These are strange social and political waters America is wading in now. This 2020 Election Year looks like the biggest travesty of democracy in recent memory. Neither of the two major parties even seem to have campaign teams on the ground. Political campaigning seems to have been reduced to digital interaction. And try campaigning for your favorite candidate, or issues, these days. Social distancing conformist culture has placed a social chill on everyday public interaction. Drenched in fear of this pathogen, people cross the street or walk in the opposite direction when they see another human being walking the empty streets of inner cities and suburbia.
But it’s also saddening because, as Max Blumenthal recently commented on The Zero Hour with R.J. Eskow about the current state of political discourse: Even if we do engage in public discourse, most of the time, we’re’re not even debating the same set of facts anymore.
Such right-wing channels as Lasse Burholt, not to mention the outright racist ones, like “The Proud Boys“, are examples of the type of political messaging the “Thin Blue Line” flag-wavers are spreading on social media. In other words, this is the opposition to BLM, which seems to represent this amorphous “silent majority“, which on the one hand seems to be silent because it’s increasingly shameful to appear racist. So, President Trump has played an important role for the American psyche, for waspy types to assuage their consciences and “make America great again”. And the centrist politics of the Democrat Party are, unfortunately, not a sincere oppositional power. Only leftist politics offer sincere opposition to this type of right-wing propaganda, which seems only interested in apologizing for white supremacist culture in policing and government. But leftist politics are blocked from electoral politics by the two-party system.
If we have shared values, as working class Americans, we must honor and celebrate those shared values. We must identify that common ground upon which we can stand in order to overcome this corporate coup de’tat, which threatens to, ultimately, disenfranchise us all. Some say we, the people, have already been disenfranchised by this corporate coup de’tat.
To find common ground, we must engage in nonviolent communication. (cf. Marshall Rosenberg, George Simon, Meredith Miller, et al.) And we must be patient with each other because it will likely be new for all of us. We all must learn new social, cognitive, and emotional, and communication skills, if we hope to achieve freedom from the creeping corporate fascism, which is engulfing our nation, and the whole world.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said we need a revolution of values. We agree. Dr. King identified the three evils of society—racism, militarism, and materialism. We recognize those three as non-negotiables. But we imagine all Americans will agree, if given the opportunity for discussion and reflection. All three of those factors are antidemocratic and, ultimately, anti-labor and anti-working class.
We don’t have to agree on left or right. We understand Democrats are centrists, center-right, or right-wing. They are not leftists. So, we must be clear: When corporate news anchors say “the left”, they actually mean Democrats. And, again, Democrats are centrists. In any case, our ideologies tend to divide us. So, we don’t have to agree on religion. We prefer the separation of church and state. And we don’t have to agree on left, right, or center. But we do have to agree on peace and justice. We do have to agree on freedom from state violence. Because black and brown people are only the proverbial canary in the goldmine because we are the most vulnerable due to the state fomenting racism, white supremacy, and more recently white nationalism.
Uncritical, or propagandistic, types of amygdala-hijacking videos seem to reinforce entrenched political positions cultivated in right-wing podcast echo chambers. Channels like this look for any opportunity to undermine the cause of jailing killer cops or to undermine the broader cause of Black Lives Matter. Why would anyone want to do such a thing? This is how right-wingers tend to think, isn’t it? They oppose BLM. But that is only in the absence of sincere dialogue. I wonder if the anti-BLM “Thin Blue Line” flag partisans are interested in dialogue. Do they simply want BLM to just shut up? That would be pretty fascistic, right? Where is the free speech in that? How can our society facilitate dialogue between these ideological camps? And do you identify with any of these groups mentioned above? Please share your thoughts.
Messina, updated at 11:18 PST, 8 MAR 2021.
Engaging with right-wing comment sections on YouTube:
- Video title: “Crazed live-streaming white BLM activist harassing Lafayette citizens sitting in their cars”
- Video URL: https://youtu.be/JXINzZIavYk
- Posted by: Lasse Burholt
- Date: 10 OCT 2020
I posted the following comment in the video comments section on 10 OCT 2020 circa 06:00 PDT:
Dale Carnegie said it best. No one can ever win a debate and change someone’s mind. If persuasion is the goal, trust must be established first. When you badger someone, or attempt to shame them into admitting their wrongs, even if they’re white supremacists or neo-nazis, they’ll usually feel defensive and double down their position.
The lady in the car is clearly unsympathetic to the cause of jailing killer cops, Black Lives Matter, or the historical legacy of white supremacy in the USA, which continues to manifest itself in American policing.
The protest lady is not “crazed”, as this hyperbolic and antidemocratic video title suggests. She is simply passionate about the cause of jailing killer cops. It’s understandable that emotions are highly charged. The protester’s only folly is in being so naive about the cruelty inside the heart of that woman in the car.
I wish the protestor lady would’ve been a bit more respectful and direct with her questions and not repetitive to avoid accusations of harassing behavior, as opposed to simply being frank or critical. But she did the best she could. She was not disrespectful. And she did what more of us ought to be doing at a time when killer cops are not being jailed for murder.YouTube public comment by “Phil Messina”
Within the hour, reader “Famous internet youtube celery” posted the following reply:
Or perhaps she waiting for the full story to come out, and isn’t into burning, looting and murdering.YouTube public comment by “Famous internet youtube celery”
This seemed to be a somewhat reasonable reply, so I replied:
@Famous internet youtube celery, perhaps.
She is definitely waiting.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. probably had the best idea when he advocated for dignified and disciplined nonviolent demonstrations, actions, and civil disobedience. Dr. King was influenced by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh towards nonviolence.
Unfortunately, the U.S. government considered him one of the greatest political threats and focused COINTELPRO state surveillance on him until his assassination. (Cf. An Act of State by William Pepper)
Since COINTELPRO snuffed out all of the peaceful voices of dissent, we are left with groups with valid concerns, but afraid or uninterested in presenting a leader capable of clearly voicing their grievances. And, of course, the media is atomized with conservatives locked into their right-wing channels (e.g., Fox News, etc) and echo chambers. And liberals are doing the same on MSNBC, etc.
America needs a post-Civil War process of truth and reconciliation, like South Africa did after apartheid. Until then, women like the one in the car will continue waiting, rather than taking action to jail killer cops. People like her, especially around the hoity toity rich folks of Walnut Creek, tend to pine more for a return to Antebellum America, rather than forging a new social contract, which excludes white supremacy.
How hard can it be to simply denounce racism, killer cops, white supremacy, and show an ounce of solidarity with the just cause of Black Lives Matter?YouTube public comment by “Phil Messina”
About an hour later “Jack Hackert” replied to my comment thread:
She was VERY disrespectful. What video were YOU watching. You contradict yourself. ” I wish she could have been respectful” then two sentences later. ” She wasn’t disrespectful” you lefties are all the same. Trying to dance around the mulberry bush, making loud noises, and contradicting yourselves. Keep up the good work. Y’all are getting Trump votes, and don’t even know it.YouTube public comment by “Jack Hackert”
I thought it was hilarious that I had contradicted myself, like “Jack Hackert” had commented. So, I replied at 11:01 PDT.
@Jack Hackert, 🤣🤣🤣 That’s hilarious! Did I contradict myself? Yikes! Let me go back and read what I wrote:
“I wish the protestor lady would’ve been a bit more respectful and direct with her questions and not repetitive to avoid accusations of harassing behavior, as opposed to simply being frank or critical. But she did the best she could. She was not disrespectful. And she did what more of us ought to be doing at a time when killer cops are not being jailed for murder.”
Wait a second, Jack. I actually did not contradict myself. You seem to have missed the nuance in my writing. Things aren’t always black and white.
By the way, what is a “leftie”? Is that like a Democrat?YouTube public comment by “Phil Messina”
[10 OCT 2020]
[Last modified on 8 MAR 2021 at 09:57 PST]