Have you ever heard of this fable of Aesop about a boy who liked to trick its fellow villagers into believing there was a wolf attacking the flock, and when one actually did, nobody believed him anymore? I thought of this fairy tale very often while watching the news ever since Trump got elected. And as the debate about equivalencies became very hot the last days, I also have one to tell.
Media vs extremism
In the spring of 2012, as it was becoming more and more clear that a neo-nazi party was about to enter the Parliament, the Greek mainstream media alongside the country’s traditional political parties started a seemingly coordinated operation to defame and contain the fascist threat. The result: not only the right extremists did win the third place in the elections that followed, but, as it turned out, they also established their presence in Greece’s political system. The problem was more than profound: corrupt, rotten institutions were trying to deconstruct and slander their opponents. The moral argument was surely on their side. However, their credibility had been lost long ago – and rightfully – over the aftermath of a social, political and economic crisis in which they had for a large part contributed to. And now? The liars were trying to call out the bigots, to expose the hatred rooted in their ideological foundation and to make them look bad before the eyes of the public, or more precisely, the voters. But who would believe them now? A totally twisted situation, but extremely problematic for Democracy!
Media vs Trump
I recognize the similarities in today’s US politics. Since day one after the elections, the largest media organizations in America, mostly known by Trump’s supporters as “fake news”, rage a war against Donald Trump and his ideological friends: white supremacists, prominent alt-right figures, remnants of KKK who are still influential and reemerging American neo-nazi groups.
But most of these mainstream media in the US have lost their legitimization long ago over the years. With turning politics into a Superbowl-like TV spectacle, serving the American audience with the “Apprentice”, the Kardashians and the like, throwing candidates into the Roman arena and having the crowds chose who’s gonna live and who’s gonna die with a voice vote, and giving Donald Trump the platform he had never dreamed he would ever get just to see their ratings skyrocketing during the election campaigns, the media had only been digging the hole for their own graves. These very media, who very often would happily construct the consent for any other president’s actions, no matter if Republican or Democrat as long as their corporate friends wished it, now struggle to get their message through, and – as one would expect – they fail. They are on the right side of history, yes. But aren’t they just a bit too late to board this train?
And even if they’ll ever get there, it’s not gonna be their fight, or their achievement. It’s not gonna be any elites, old or new money, corporations or politicians, Susan Sarandon or Meryl Streep those to claim the victory. The sweep will come from those who have been fighting the whole time, long before it seemed that a fight was even necessary: people of color, women, LGBT, boring students, Muslims, artists, ghetto Robin Hoods, off-off-off Broadway, you name it. They are gonna drive the change, make people get off the sidelines, get out of the state of indifference, show some empathy and stand up for them, for themselves, for all of us.