At left: Street preacher sign from Bele Chere. (Any questions?)
Suzan links AlterNet's interesting Why the Mainstream Media Are Clueless About the Religious Right by Adele M. Stan, which not surprisingly, offers some cluelessness of its own.
As I have said (so many times) before, as long as the language of religion is generally dissed by the mainstream media and the elite Left, you have allowed it to remain the language of the religious right, by default. And this highly-moral language is then used to talk to the masses, right over your heads.
If an exotic dialect is used only by one group, even if others understand it, it eventually becomes theirs.
And yes, religion is regarded by the media as some weird, exotic dialect from flyover country, which means the copious dog-whistles and covert winks offered by the Religious Right sail right past the well-paid hotshot media analysts and pundits, as in the famous "Obama is the antichrist" TV ad. They just MISSED it. (Antichrist? Who?)
In comments in this thread, I gave an example, and rather than type it all again, I am hereby quoting myself:
[Years ago], I watched Mother Theresa's funeral on late-night TV (India time), and several of the "official" commentators seemed totally ignorant of the derivation of the banner over her casket, which read "You did it to me"...and they all just seemed to go blank. They didn't seem to be able to look it up, either, since the KJV says something like "Ye have done it to me" if I'm not mistaken. (The quote would be from the RSV, which was favored by the Missionaries of Charity.)Then they trotted out that huge fan of Mother Theresa, Christopher Hitchens, author of a famous hit-piece on her. For her funeral. (I ask you, when was the last time the author of a hit-piece was invited to comment at their subject's funeral? A bit rude, maybe?)
They mumbled, they ummmed and they ahhhed, but you know, they just didn't seem to know. All of these hotshot commentators and none seemed to know. Finally, someone triumphantly announced it was from the New Testament (well duh) but they didn't seem to understand the reference or why it was the phrase hanging over her casket, and not some other phrase.
I listened to the entire commentary, as they didn't seem to have any idea why people STAND for the Gospel reading (really? Is it that hard to figure out?) or anything else about the Mass. That day, I realized how ignorant the media elites are of religion and religious traditions... even something as simple as standing for the Gospel reading. (I suddenly realized they didn't know the difference between that part of the Bible called "Gospel" and the rest of it.)
This is what passes for knowledge of religion among the elites. Then they try to psychoanalyze people for whom religion is EVERYTHING. And they, um, invariably get it wrong, of course. How could they not? They don't know the dialect.
And Stan knows some of the dialect, but like an anthropologist studying the oddly-dressed natives (she compares some of the reporters to Margaret Mead, which IS funny), she isn't actually going to get down in the dirt with em either. Instead, she translates the dialect for the elites, or tries to.
For example, she attempts to analyze Ron Paul's fan base:
While mainstream media dismiss Paul as a quirky, secular libertarian, progressive reporters sometimes express a certain affection for Paul because of his anti-war stance. But Paul's anti-war position stems from his far-right isolationist views...First of all, isolationism per se is not strictly left or right, and that explains the far-reaching appeal. In the Midwest, where I grew up, isolationism is its OWN thang, and often transcends traditional left/right definitions and categories. This is frequently my stance on this blog, likely because (as I have said many times), I was greatly influenced by my grandfather, a Christian Scientist and Taft Republican ("isolationism" barely describes it). To these folks, isolationism WAS the progressive position, since it kept the rest of the world from hating us so much. Isolationism insured peace, was the idea. Now, of course, the opposite view (which can be totally summed up in Orwell's phrase, 'War is Peace') is politically dominant.
In short, just as military-interventionism is now an equal-opportunity left/right ideology, so is isolationism.
Does Adele Stan know that Ron Paul ran for President as a Libertarian in the 70s, before he was ever in Congress? His views have changed little since Vietnam, and THIS is why progressives have respect for him: Ron Paul does not stick his finger in the air to test the political winds, and never has. (see CORRECTION, below)
At left: Fundamentalists invade Bele Chere festival in Asheville, NC. Most people considered them just another part of the show, but a number of intrepid festival-goers engaged them in some intense debates and heated conversations.
Adele Stan's commentary in AlterNet advances the opinion that the overall media-dilemma is denial, rather than elitist ignorance, even though she mentions the elitism a few times:
The mainstream media -- and to an extent, the progressive media, as well -- are made up of elites, people who went to good schools, most of them raised on either the east or west coasts. To these elites, the thought of someone espousing the sort of frightening beliefs that Paul embodies having a serious impact on American politics is just too much to bear, so denial becomes the default position. It's not conscious -- not a deliberate attempt to cover something up, just something too weird and awful to be true, so the notion is simply dismissed. Yet if you look at Paul's positions and look at how successive GOP fields have moved closer to them (with the exception of the anti-war stance) over the last three election cycles, his impact is clear."With the exception of the anti-war stance"? Earth to Adele! Somebody does not keep up with the drug war, which is BANKRUPTING THE COUNTRY and decimating poor and minority communities. Maybe Adele doesn't know any teenagers whose lives have been ruined over a tiny and inconsequential puff on a joint, but poor people have plenty of examples to share with her. Ron Paul proposes to legalize and tax marijuana and end the super-expensive drug war altogether... and that is a damned radical position that no other Republican AND no other Democrat has dared take.
The unbridled destruction of poor communities and the mass-imprisonment of young minority men is a fucking SCANDAL; the drug charges that the privileged kids from good schools can safely giggle about years later ("Oh man, my dad was sure pissed!") are the very same drug charges that will get you locked up for life if you are too poor to afford a lawyer or your daddy doesn't know the right people.
Ending this VICIOUS ATTACK on the poor is a PROGRESSIVE POSITION and only Ron Paul will take it.
You know this, right Adele? That one out of four black men is in prison for some BULLSHIT? Aaaarghhh, don't even get me started.
The fact that you have ignored this point in your piece, Adele Stan, is rather clueless as well. The fact that you don't seem to know what is happening in minority communities? Marks you as one of the elite media that doesn't know what's going on out here in the fabled Heartland.
It's going to get ugly, as the traditional left/right categories topple to the ground. I made a prediction that Obama was a one-termer, but that was before I knew he had stashed away a billion dollars for his second coronation. I now believe he will win, but it will infuriate a lot of people and might lead to insurrection; the British riots light the way. Democracy has been supplanted by the wholesale purchase of political office. (This huge money-stash now marks Barack Obama as a member of the elite that he successfully challenged upon first entering politics; Ron Paul's plucky little "money bombs" are very small potatoes by comparison.)
Adele winds up:
As a nation, we've been headed down this path for more than 40 years. As the economic fortunes of the U.S. turn downward, we should expect the attraction of right-wing religion, especially its more charismatic and viscerally-felt forms, to expand. Anyone who doesn't just hasn't been paying attention.Ya think? And how about you talk to some of US, the progressives who can speak the weird Biblical Ron Paul language? How about you even consider FUNDING SOME OF US out here, who might be able to help, since we are already wearing the clothes and speaking the dialect?
Ha, am I funny or what? As we already know, that ain't never gonna happen. After all, they know everything, don't they?
EDIT, CORRECTION: Ron Paul was repeatedly interviewed as a Libertarian before he entered congress, but when he eventually ran for Congress in the 70s, ran as a Republican. He first ran for president (on the Libertarian ticket) in 1988.