nothin's scarier than a blank page

27 May 2011

God is a Doorknob, part 3

I didn't really consider Beck again -- in general, at all -- until January.  Egyptians were rioting in the streets.  I was stunned and obsessed.  I started to watch the news all day long.  I work at home, and I like to keep the TV on as background noise.  At first I flipped around to different channels, getting different people's takes on things.  I ended up on Fox more than anything else.  And at 4:00, I ended up watching Beck.

With Egypt, it seems that Beck hit a reset button of sorts.  He talked about the daily news, but he also talked about it in terms of what it meant to the web of alliances in the Middle East, which meant he talked about history.  That's when I found out that much of Beck's show is teaching history in light of and as it relates to the most current events.

I had never had a strong understanding of politics in the Middle East.  I knew the basics, I knew enough, and I didn't really care beyond that.  They have oil, they hate us, sometimes they try to kill us, and they're all of the way over there.  Beck helped to teach history, but he also helped provide a framework for me to then learn more on my own.  Tackling the Middle East is a daunting research project, but Beck broke it into manageable pieces and provided me with tools to finally research and learn about the complex issues and history of the region.

While I was studying on my own, I was also devouring news about current events, and there still seemed to be something missing that all other media sources were neglecting to highlight.  I've studied rhetoric at the undergrad and graduate level, and in social movement theory, social movements have leaders.

Who was leading the riots in Egypt?

Yes, yes.  I know.  It was the wonder of social media that allowed the protests to magically unfold.  But someone sent that first tweet.  Someone had some kind of foresight.  Some must have a plan.  

Worse, if the unicorn-glitter-magick of social media really was the only instigating force, then there would be no leader to continue the work once the regime fell... and all of those hopeful people, drunk on democracy, would be at the mercy of any crafty leader who would want to exploit them for personal gain.

Beck saw that.  I think that's when I fell for him.  When Beck drew out the infamous map in which he showed that, in a worst case scenario of the entire world falling apart, Russia might control Australia, I fell for him.  I remember Rachel Maddow skewering him for that map, and I understand how it appears ludicrous.  Any full extension of a worst case scenario looks ludicrous, but his basic sentiments were spot on: something's missing from these protests, we should not be so quick to praise them without critical analysis, the horizon may not be pretty.

And, whatcha know, he was right.

to be continued.
(I've written this section while sleepy, so I hope I captured it right.  An edit may be needed.)

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