In an earlier life, I played a fake news man for some years. The character, which shared my name, was a slightly dumber Colbert-type rightwinger, though it pre-dated Colbert. (As I've previously noted, the line between fake news man and real one is uncomfortably thin.) At one point during that period, there had been an epidemic of well-publicized shootings. One of them was the Columbine Massacre. I remember using the satiric character, even at the time, to rail against the media for making the killers famous by headlining their names and plastering their faces on front pages and magazine covers, etc. In other words, for giving them exactly the infamy they likely sought in the first place.
You may have noticed we haven't written much about ISIS here. One of the reasons is because that's precisely what they'd like us all to do. And, since they emerged as the latest big scary menace on the world stage a few months ago, along with glossy and often horrible PR videos and a fairly sophisticated social media presence, the mainstream media and the political world seem to be all too happy to grant them every last bit of the very publicity they seek.
As of Wednesday night, it looks as though President Obama is similarly happy to take the ISIS bait and grant them the honor of being elevated as the latest Public Enemy #1 of the United States of America. The precise direct threat they pose to the U.S. at this time remains unclear. At least I haven't been able to figure it out and Obama's speech on Wednesday night made it no clearer. But the GOP war hawks seemed to be thrilled with it all, and party-line Democrats seem to be offering few, if any, objections either. The military industrial complex is certainly rejoicing over their newest apparent windfall.
To be clear, all available evidence suggests that ISIS or ISIL or the Islamic State is most certainly dangerous (at least to those within their expanding vicinity), extremely ruthless, and extraordinarily barbaric. Still, granting them the fame or infamy they seek --- be it in the mainstream media or from the U.S. Government, much less from the bully pulpit of the Presidency --- seems to be playing precisely into their hands. I'm not interested in doing so.
It's also, at least according to this report from Associated Press published just hours before the President's speech on Wednesday, exactly what their PR masterminds have been working towards. Another very public over-reaction to a most-likely "exaggerated" threat described by the AP as "no unstoppable juggernaut" and "wield[ing] outsize influence" thanks, in no small part, to their mastery of social media...
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