The Us/Them Grift
Disclaimer: Contains Explicit Language. Written by: Charlie Canady
It’s a week and some change after the presidential election. The facts on the ground have changed, but to perhaps no one’s surprise, the discourse has not. Protests continue, media coverage persists, and, most importantly of all, the grift is still going. Woe to the poor fuckers getting scammed for their money,1 yes, and condolences to the folks who wanted a better candidate than Biden but that’s not the grift I’m talking about.
It’s deeper than money.
Mainstream outlets have a formula in play. For the sake of defining mainstream, we’ll use the handful of CNN, NBC and Fox, though any number of independent outlets can, and often do contribute. I’m talking about the Young Turks, OANN, Breitbart - partisan news, hand in hand with the mainstream, the showrunners bank on a specific formula:
You’re winning. Keep it up, you’re winning. OR They’re destroying everything, you have to do something. Weaponized Us Vs. Them. Immediately, you might be asking if I’m equating, doing some sort of ‘both sides’ Houdini shenanigans, and no, that’s not it. By nature, my ears ring on Fascist dog whistles and I call them out for what they are. I understand who has responsibility for what, and who is actively lying about secret lists of blacklisted Trump supporters.2 These elements have not changed, but this isn’t about who to blame for what. Blame is the incriminator. ‘They’ is the trap. ‘Us’ is the operative. Above all else this election cycle, the mainstream wants to keep up the grift of separation by building partisan walls. Build that wall, opinion columnists chant, as we lose sight of each other among the bricks and mortar. Laugh at conservative tears; heck, we’ll archive them for you so you can see Tim Pool doublespeak out of his mouth and poor white kids struggle to reconcile a loss.3 I understand your pain, I understand the need to find some catharsis, but the road we’re traveling is a dangerous one. We are turning into armed camps. We are forgetting the basic tenets of empathy. The grift, no matter where you belong on the political spectrum, is to isolate your media consciousness to one space, above all others. Consume news from a small number of sources. Stay inside your bubble. Assume the positions of anyone who mentions an issue. Do not discourse. Do not pass go. Do not let them win. Because if they win, everything you love will be in danger, and it is your fault that you did not act. This has been the chant across the aisle. In the areas bought and paid for by special interests, ‘they’ thrives, because ‘they’ is extremely moldable. It can be anyone, any group that doesn’t conform to the viewer’s idea of society. It’s the primary tool of fascists and totalitarians to build cults of personality, to reinforce the social dichotomy to make suffering more palatable. Unfortunately, it has also become the tool of neoliberal speech, to divide us internally while legal and economic rights are stripped from the general public. What I’m asking here is not for you to stop punching Nazis. Far from it. Nazis deserve broken noses. We have let the media and the internet grow like kudzu, swallowing us up in reverberating echo chambers and convincing each other that the average person on the other side is complicit with the worst of human nature, and that is not right. We are a better species than that. We are the only species on this planet that can survive through cultural and social adaption, survive almost any change. We’re spending our time attacking strawmen and setting fire to our lawns to ‘own the libs,’ to crucify proclaimed conservatives on crosses, to draw lines in the sand. These fuckers sell us weapons and tell us who to shoot. For the love of god, we don’t have to shoot. This country is in a bad place right now. Our infrastructure is failing. Systemic corruption and law enforcement abuse are rampant. Coronavirus has reached its highest new case rate multiple days in a row. Our cities are sinking. Migrants are being forcibly sterilized.4 We are rapidly reaching the point of no return for radical climate change. The culture wars are a distraction. They are designed to benefit the powerful and distract us. We have practical problems in that country that have to be addressed, and the only way we can do that is to bring down the walls and acknowledge we are all individuals. We are all people with ideology imprinted in our minds, fears and terror lurking in the abscesses of doubt. We may have different perspectives, but we can approach them equitably, fairly. No one has to suffer. Except the grifters. I wouldn’t mind seeing Tucker Carlson lose his job and disappear into the dark web, but those are personal politics. We have to rebuild a shared sense of nationhood, and that does not come from digging into our foxholes. Empathy requires reaching out to one another. It requires understanding the struggles, the pain of others, the needs of others. To live comfortably through the 21st century, we need to extend our patience, our kindness and our bravery to anyone willing to listen and act in good faith. Everyone will need it. These are trying times, I hear you. There is great uncertainty, especially with the transition of power coming. Trump may not leave office willingly. This may be too late of a plea. What is being told to you about the ‘other side’ is wrong. Proud Boys are not all Trump supporters. Antifa is not a terrorist organization. There is no global conspiracy. At the core of this dialogue, we are all human. In my view, intersectionality is key. “We don’t see color” is an excuse to make ghosts sleep; it isn’t an effective solution to the current social, political and economic disparities. Floyd has every right to be heard as the laid off Ford dad struggling to pay his medical insurance, or the destitute trans child thrown out of the family home, forced to beg on GoFundMe for help, or the poor farmer eating a bullet from the trade war plowing his fields under, or the Latinx individuals harassed for being brown, threatened to be deported. Our stories, all of the stories, are important. We are not ‘they.’ Do not be conned into thinking that’s how people work. You are smarter than that. You can think more reasonably than that.
1 Trump campaign mailers post-election have been soliciting voters to pay for recount efforts, with the stipulation that half of all campaign donations for this purpose will be used to retire campaign debt. Noor, Poppy, November 10th, 2020. 2 Breitbart alleges without evidence that a list of prominent Trump supporters is being tabulated for the purpose of blacklisting them. Morris, Kyle, November 12th, 2020. 3 One of the more prominent outlets for this is the Coping MAGA twitter handle, @CopingMAGA. 4 Migrant women at Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia were coerced into sterilization procedures by non-Spanish speaking personnel. Manian, Maya. September 29th, 2020.
Citations: Manian, Maya. “Immigration Detention and Coerced Sterilization: History Tragically Repeats Itself.” Web. September 29th, 2020. Accessed: November 12th, 2020. https://www.aclu.org/news/immigrants-rights/immigration-detention-and-coerced-ster . Morris, Kyle. “Leftists Back Down on Plans to Create List to Block Trump Backers From Jobs.” Web. November 12th, 2020. Accessed day of. https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/11/12/leftists-back-down-on-plans-to-create-list-to-block-trump-backers-from-jobs/. Noor, Poppy. “Donald Trump’s Latest Endeavor? Asking His Supporters to Pay His Debts.” The Guardian. Web. November 10th, 2020. Accessed: November 12th, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/nov/10/donald-trump-election-fund-d.