Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fear sells, fear smells

Images of the World Trade Center wreckage may be the number one sales gimmick of our time and when one pops up in your mailbox, it's safe to guess that some appeal to paranoid patriotism is attached and that some candidate, some group, some idea is about to be presented as somehow allied to or supportive of violent, radical Islam.

I was a bit baffled when a DVD arrived with the Palm Beach Post; one of about 70 papers nationwide that were paid to include this "advertising supplement" with the September 11th edition. I'm sure many people thought it was an informative offering from their newspaper, but cynic that I am, I looked carefully for the small print conveying the information that this was a product of the Clarion Fund, a year old 501(c)(3) group dedicated to telling us to be afraid of the "urgent threat" of radical Islam. They claim to be independent, but aren't really very informative when it comes to telling us where the money to send out tens of millions of DVD's came from.

This being the information age however, the boasts and evasions of such groups have a hard time hiding. Popular Progressive shows us that, for all its bravado about National Security, the men behind the screen aren't necessarily Americans. The founder, it seems, is a South African national. Isn't it nice of a South African to be so concerned with our welfare?

Is it a big stretch to postulate that the distribution of these discs in 70 papers in swing states is an attempt to boost Republican support through fear mongering? 501(c)(3) corporations aren't allowed to endorse candidates or parties, but obvious as it may be to many people, it would be hard to prove that this wasn't an "educational" attempt, as claimed, but blatant Republican propaganda even though there is a link to the groups web site Radical Islam.org, which endorses -- you guessed it -- John McCain (my, oh my,) and warns that Obama may make things worse.

Popular wisdom is a euphemism for prejudice and it's not a coincidence that letters to editors seem to include warnings about how Obama is Black and Farrakhan is Black and Farrakhan sympathizes with Palestinians and Palestinians sympathize with terrorists and therefore Obama is a terrorist. Enough people were annoyed (including of course, Muslims) however, that the Miami Herald had to state that they accepted the money because they are against "censorship" and for "Freedom of expression" a bit of sophistry that shouldn't escape criticism.

At the very least, the public is owed an explanation and a disclaimer by the "Liberal Press" and Clarion is owed a call by the IRS. I'm not going to hold my breath until either event occurs.

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