….the only way to fight Voter Suppression
In his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, Professor Neil H. Postman argued that Americans are controlled by their addiction to entertainment rather than by state control and/or media control.
With his cries of “Fake News!” ex-President Donald Trump constantly lied about who was controlling us. He claimed that there was a strong, left-wing bias among the media, slanting their coverage of his presidency and the condition of our country.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Since the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, the Republican Ministry of Propaganda, aka Fox News, has generated billions of dollars in advertising revenue from running right-wing shows. Not only was Faux News not “fair and balanced,” but it was duplicitous throughout its coverage of everything from war, to education, to health, to housing, to racism, to our economy, and on and on and on.
And, for the last 30+ years, it helped brainwash the low-information voters among us into believing the most factually, scientifically, and culturally absurd notions about who we are and what we should be as a nation. And those voters put Trump into the White House and elected a bunch of troglodytes into the Republican Party.
Dumb People’s Addiction to Smartphones
Since the early 2000s, we have been increasingly addicted to so-called smartphones, the devices that supposedly made our lives easier and more efficient. In reality, studies have repeatedly shown that we have become addicted to our smartphones the way gamblers are addicted to slot machines.
Web-browsing on cell. phones reveals that we are subjected to a barrage of what is called in Internet marketing “click-bait” advertising: alluring pictures of young women with large breasts and pictures/videos of cats, what some call “tits and kits.” Once we click on the site, we are subjected to constant ads for, how can I put this?, CRAP.
Influencers and Entertainers
The more we scroll through the click-bait sites, the more addicted we become. And the people who want to make money off of the Internet advertising streams have become “influencers,” people who are “famous for being famous,” e.g., Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, the rest of the Kardashian and Jenner family. Then there are the rappers: Niki Minaj, Cardi B, Lil Naz, Lizzo, Kanye West, et al., ad nauseam. Prior to them, we had Madonna, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, and the like. But in today’s world, most of the “influencers” and rappers are Black.
And, of course, we’ve seen how football, basketball, and baseball have become multi-billion dollar industries, with stalker-fans (stans) really devoted to their sports idols du jour. Many, if not most, of the athletes are Black.
Where Are We Now?
After Trump lost, and we got two Democratic senators elected in Georgia, the GOP went nuts.
The Georgia legislature recently passed an election law that would dramatically restrict voting among Black folks — and now, around the country, a number of Republican-controlled legislatures have joined the restrictive-voting spree.
The entire history of civil rights in America, from the time of the abolitionists, through the Jim Crow era, right to the present, was and is about providing safe and legal mechanisms for people to exercise their electoral power. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 nominally launched the modern movement of enfranchisement of those previously excluded from voting, Blacks, Browns, and Native Americans.
With the public pain and the clamor for justice in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, the sweeping movement of Republican legislatures to suppress the rights of minorities to vote is breathtaking in its audacious effrontery towards the memories of those who fought and gave their lives to the Civil Rights struggle: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; John Lewis; Elijah Cummings; Ralph Abernathy; Maya Angelou; Rosa Parks; Ella Baker; Daisy Bates; Fannie Lou Hamer; Dorothy Height; Septima Poinsette Clark; and many others.
So what do we do?
Entertainers Need to go on Strike
This country is addicted to entertainment; we focus 90% on playing and 10% on working, instead of the other way around.
In light of our addiction, it seems to me that the Black folks who rap, sing songs, make videos, play sports hold great power over us — IF they elect to do something well within their capabilities. What is it?
STOP RAPPING, SINGING, MAKING VIDEOS, AND PLAYING SPORTS, with the message to the people that unless their legislatures get rid of the voter suppression laws, our Entertainers are out on strike and will continue to withhold their services until we get rid of these obscene laws.
How do we get unanimity of action?
For the Entertainers, many will “cop a plea” and say, “Well, I’d love to help, but this is my job and I’ve got to feed my family,” etc. In other words, the job is the great cop-out.
But there are a number of leaders in the sports industry — Colin Kaepernick, Lebron James, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Chris Paul , Kryie Irving— who could and would argue that their lives outside of the sports arena are far more important than the box scores of whatever games they’re playing. And they might very well lead a movement to get rid of the voter-suppression laws, even with just the threat of a strike.
That might very well be sufficient motivation to get some of the lardasses in the South and elsewhere to lean on their state legislators to make sure that the rights to vote are widespread, fair and even for everybody. Because, after all, they want to see “the Crimson Tide,” the ’Gators, the Buckeyes, the Lakers, the Suns, the Celtics, the Steelers, the Giants, the 49ers, and others. If they don’t get their “fix” of sports and other forms of entertainment, their lives would be so, so sad.
And with all the hundreds of millions and billions of dollars spent on these Entertainers, wouldn’t it be just to expect them to “slow their roll” and do something truly socially and politically impactful, to help their brothers and sisters keep and gain their voting rights?