Monday, June 26, 2017

The Return of McCarthyism?



With a flourish of his hand, the illusionist causes our eyes, and most importantly, our attention, to move in the direction he leads us, and away from where he does not want us to look.  The impact is that something unexpected and magical occurs.  I am not talking magical today in any way shape or form.  However, the flash by the illusionist creates a distraction, which for entertainment purposes, has a wonderful outcome.  In real life, distractions can become just that – distractions.  And, when they become out of hand…

I generally avoid writing anything political, as I find politics extremely divisive, especially in an age of false news (on both sides of the aisle), playing off people's fear and a general lack of broad subject knowledge.  Darren Hardy puts it bluntly about not reading the news (which is highly subjective), as most of it is negative in nature and has zero impact on my personal goals and objectives.  However, after seven months of allegations of Russians tampering with our elections, without any solid proof, without any legal actions and no arrests made, I am tired of hearing about this everywhere I go.  This is a (planned) distraction not only for our leaders, but has foreign leaders distracted as they either defend themselves or weigh in on this topic.  We are living the Salem Witch hunt and the hunt for American Communists all over.  So much so, when I talk to my friends outside the US, this distraction has invaded their news as well.

One of the fundamental Constitutional rights as Americans is that we are innocent until proven guilty.  This ensures our right to due legal process and protects the individual until such time as they are guilty in the eyes of the law, as determined by a jury of peers.  Unfortunately, there have been too many public people (not only politicians) tried in the court of public opinion, and then condemned, prior to any proof of guilt, any investigative evidence and real arrests.  During the 1950s, at the onset of the Cold War, there was a lot of fear of Communism, which led to hysteria, about who was a communist in America and who might be helping our #1 enemy - the Russians.  Let us not fool ourselves, spies exists and have throughout time, as a way of attempting to learn what each side knows about the other, to gain an advantage and to keep enemies in check.  Coupled with one of the drivers of humanity, fear, this was heightened during the 1950s.  Add to this one Joseph McCarthy, who was a U.S. senator, was able to leverage a national fear that led to the hunt for Communists in our government, in the world of entertainment and led to people eying each other suspiciously, also referred to as the “Red Scare”.  Fear spread, people called to testify, names given and careers destroyed.  The nation watched, in a complete distraction, for months, as no indictment occurred, no official arrests made and no one found guilty.   In the end, Senator McCarthy's house of cards collapsed, but not without a negative impact (i.e., the term McCarthyism still has a bad connotation).
Playing on these types of fears is nothing new.  Remember the Salem Witch trials?  A case of some disgruntled children feeding off the fears of a superstitious group that led to a false trial.  For some reason, we are sucked into following these types of events; believe innuendo and hyperbole, condemn actions, whether or not there is truth behind it.  How about the in the 1980’s with the Tawana Brawley incident that ruined an innocent police officer’s career, and this was headlines for weeks on end?  This is one (of many) reasons I do not follow the news, even though it is hard to get away from this nonsense.

As hard as it is to ignore, sensational news, false news, or whatever you want to call it, is a distraction.  Time is better spent on focusing on my family, my work, the places where I volunteer, and things that have a direct impact on me.  Time spent on personal pursuits have more of an impact on my life seems like a better way for me spend my time, and to walk away from the constant distraction that continually attempt to bombard me.  As it is, I have now spent on this topic more than enough time than it deserves.  Off to join my family in the pool, but that is a topic when we next meet…