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Study Break

The GOP Just Learned Something (and Got it Wrong)

(c) Tim O’Brien

Amazing! The GOP just learned something! But they got it wrong.

A recent post called “DNC’s Angry Appeal to ‘Become a Factivist’” showed up in the frightening but somehow funny Word Net Daily (WND). The author, Myra Adams, was horrified by “a new frightening buzzword” called factivism and realized that saying it quickly sounds like “fascism.” By stitching together that mispronunciation, news that the DNC raised less money than the RNC during the first six months of 2017 – as well as finding the word “factivism” on the DNC website – the author said that poor, angry Democrats are therefore using fascist tactics to raise money. Hence the article’s title. She even backs up her evidence of the DNC’s angry, fascist appeal with a hyperlink to a page on the DNC website that is really just a newsletter sign-up form on the DNC’s site.

Okay. This is not a new and startling word. Around 2009, something called a “factivist” was born. The label started as a term used to describe people who endlessly reiterate information on social media they’ve blindly accepted as fact. These days, its connotation is more positive and applies to people who want to bring about social change based on indisputable fact, not non-news, propaganda or pseudo-events. U2’s lead singer Bono calls himself a factivist, an “evidence based activist.”

Bono? Then it’s no surprise that the GOP would be horrified and sickened by that term. The surprise is that the party of alternative facts just found out about a term that was coined almost a decade ago.

Now, to give the article a little credit, the Democrats really are behind the Republicans in terms of fundraising this year. Yes, their website is recruiting evidence-based activists to help set the record straight when the GOP strays from the truth. But anyone with an IQ higher than broccoli (sometimes estimated as 2) knows they haven’t adopted a fascist platform – even if saying factivism ten times real fast sounds a little like fascism. But like an earworm, it’s hard to get this bizarre association out of your head. It starts to conjure up some diabolical plan – one created by a DNC mastermind in a dark backroom who was twisting the ends of his moustache while plotting out his action plan. If the medium is the message, then, that earworm is the news.

This is what is called a pseudo-event, as explained in “The Image: A Guide to Pseudo Events in America.” The definition is that non-news creates news. Like during the height of the red-scare, Sen. Joseph McCarthy called a press conference every morning announcing that his evening press conference would deliver a big announcement. Reporters had to report in the morning editions that big news was coming, though it rarely did. A pseudo-event.

Unfortunately, though, non-news things like the WND article are kind of fun. Sean Spicer’s stint behind the White House press briefing podium was news for the fact that he didn’t report any.

In the midst of all the real problems this country faces, and with a political cartoon living in the dump that the rest of us call the White House, we have to fight against pseudo-events designed by the GOP.

Your job: be a factivist. Scare the crap out of them.

Remember what Edward R. Murrow said when had as much as he could take of Sen. McCarthy and his pseudo-events; of his manipulation of the press to destroy American lives; of the embarrassment he caused the Senate – and the combined detrimental effect to the integrity of our international reputation.

In a groundbreaking editorial, Murrow closed with:

The actions of the junior senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn’t create this situation of fear. He merely exploited it, and rather successfully. Cassius was right. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”


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