Alter the Public discourse by means of compromise.
While many of the left leaning cultural elite reel at their immeasurable losses in 2016, there has been much speculation on exactly how a Trump presidency will shape the American economy and geopolitics along with what it will mean for the rest of the world.
A point not so thoroughly touched on is the manner in which the Trump phenomena will shape the cultural discourse and what has long been regarded as the key influence on public discourse: the media.
As with Brexit, the ascension of Donald J. Trump to the White House has shaken the main stream media to the core and forced them to come to terms with the ugly truth that many of their consumers have become overwhelmingly fed up with the tiresome narrative constantly being forced upon them by an educated intelligentsia class, who are woefully out of touch with the average middle income earner and the concerns of the everyday citizen.
What could be more condescending and frustrating than a select group of educated folk, broadcasting their approved views, moral high-horsing and virtue signalling, while depreciating any opposing views with accusations of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, transphobia and so on? In an attempt at swaying the masses to their rigid way of thinking they have only produced a resentful distrust among their audiences and made people like Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen look like heroic truth tellers besieged by powerful dictators of popular opinion.
What these cultural dictators never seem to realize is just because they possess the popular sentiments from an educated echo chamber they aren’t by any means in possession of a flawless truth. It seems, the mainstream media has betrayed their sacred obligation to report and analyse varying reports in a balanced, nuanced fashion, and have become a mouth piece for progressive and even radical leftist sentiment which shows little concern in seriously considering alternate views.
Add to that the intellectual laziness of famous journalists, commentators and entertainers who feel the overwhelming need to signal their virtue by screaming racist, bigot and the numerous phobias that they allege plague our society. This plague is of course evidenced by voter’s dismay for open border policies, concern in religiously motivated terror and reluctance to accept high cost living in order to combat an invisible climate threat which we are repeatedly told is swiftly descending upon humanity.
The true impending doom – as we are told -is this global heating, not those highly motivated and well-armed men who massacre innocent men, women and children in the name of their faith. Disregard their cries of “Allah’u Akbar” and their quotes from the Quran, as they are not real Muslims nor are they as great a threat as racism and climate change.
It should come as no surprise that the masses, longing for a change of narrative, reached for a leader like Trump who became the only remedy to the ever increasing and irrelevant list of absurdities being shoved down the public’s collective throat.
While there is much room for debate on all of these issues, it is counterproductive for the culturally elite to constantly and widely broadcast discussion points more suited to tutorial rooms in the Humanities faculty, or at least to so heavily lean towards the dominant cultural discourse. And it’s always quite easy to tell what the dominant cultural narrative is by comparing controversies.
In the 1970s, Kate Bush was told she would not be able to release her song ‘Deal with God’ until she changed the main title to ‘Running up that Hill’ for fear that it would offend conservative Catholics. Similar sentiments have been seen in the protests and attempted censoring of Marilyn Manson and Eminem in the late 1990s and early 2000s for fear of inciting hatred and violence.
Now we see extreme outrage voiced at those who challenge the intelligentsia’s status quo on what is acceptable opinion. The culturally accepted norm on topics of climate change, refugees/ border policies, terrorism, and even gender norms are paraded around in the media with little controversy while to voice a concern on say, Islamic immigration will almost certainly result in widespread condemnation, calls for sacking and even death threats.
Clearly a balance must be struck between the culturally elite and the deplorable masses in order for the media to stay relevant and successful. Quite frankly the fault lies predominantly with the elites for not even attempting to step outside their ideological thought bubble, but with a change of tactic there is still hope for them.
It’s all a rather simple matter of listening to the views that many in the nation clearly hold without bellowing out the immediate reflex action of demonization and name calling. The next step should really be to show an understanding and from there – if need be – offer an alternative viewpoint. This is not merely for the benefit of the media’s credibility, but for anyone who holds the views of the cultural elite.
Even on a highly dramatized issue like the controversy over a ban on Islamic immigration, it’s of the utmost importance to take a calm nuanced approach to addressing it without alienating views that may be uncomfortable to hear. If commentators and media personalities were to apply a bit of humility while discussing touchy subjects, a great deal more clarity would inevitably enter the public discourse, and from there a clearer picture of how to address these issues is more likely to present itself.
First and foremost, regardless of what anyone thinks about opinions that favour a ban on Islamic immigration it’s counterproductive to insist that these ideas are hateful or irrational. Given the brutality of terrorist attacks and the uncertainty of who among the Islamic community is calm and decent and who is hostile and volatile, it is quite rational to fear an ideology that fuels hatred among some of its adherents.
When an Islamic terrorist attack takes place there seems to be a repetitive reaction from the global community and often we see Islamic leaders condemn the attacks and the attacks as abhorrent and not representative of Muslims and Islamic teachings. We are told that ‘terrorism has no religion’. All the while we see groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and the like, continue attacks and abuses while claiming to be acting in full accordance with Quranic teachings.
There is and has been for some time in the Islamic world a hotly contested set of ideas over what constitutes the true practice of Islam. Wahabiists and Salifist jihadists have been obviously the most noticeable variants due to their willingness to commit ultra-violence in the name of their faith. If after 1400 years the Islamic world can’t figure out its true followers from its heretics, or its militants from its moderates, how is anyone in the secular western world meant to? It’s also important to note that radical clerics and operatives are bound to seek recruitment to their version of Islam from within the Islamic migrant population, as it is much easier to radicalise a young male of the same faith than say, an elderly female Catholic.
The higher the number of Muslim immigrants, the larger the pool from which radicals may recruit from. This is not a hateful way of looking at this issue. This is just the raw reality of basic mathematics and probability with an understanding of what the extremists are seeking to achieve. The root of this fear is confusion created when it is impossible to tell the radical from the reasonable, yet now add to this the frustration of chastisement for expressing confusion, fear and anger.
Viciously labelling people as ‘Islamophobes’ or ‘bigots’ for expressing perfectly normal sentiments of fear following a series of massacres committed for the same apparent cause, only serves to halt an important discussion which could in turn yield positive results.
So then, what is an appropriate response to those who argue discriminatory restrictions on immigration? There are probably a myriad of responses, but let us stick to the probability of radicalisation among the population. Should this proposition come to pass in a western nation like Australia, radicalisation across the board would be most likely to increase and lead to an extremely unstable society in which to live.
Far right, nationalist radicals would undoubtedly be emboldened by the new state sanctioned discrimination which officially accepts that Islam is an evil which must be contained. These groups would undoubtedly revel in the idea that their long held biases have been validated by the department of immigration, parliament and the senate. One can expect to see victory parades and – as with all radicals – a push to take things even further.
This would of course inconveniently coincide with the radicalisation of the Muslim population residing in Australia who – once again – have had their greatest fears confirmed by a state sanctioned fear and distrust of what they may be capable of. They are now officially viewed as untrustworthy hosts of a radical ideology that can become active at any time and massacre innocent lives. What more reason could a radical cleric want than to see his warnings and hatred for the west materialise and be given the validation he’s been so desperately seeking all of these years?
And of course, without saying, the far left who have always been particularly intolerant of opposing views and violently vocal in their protests of the establishment, would most likely be whipped up into a frenzy of dizzying proportions and probably cause immeasurable damage to government buildings and infrastructure, not to mention cause many a traffic delay.
Imagine all of these elements actively competing for dominance in public. In other words an attempt to counter possible radicalism from entering Australia would almost certainly increase radicalism among our citizens who are already prone to anti-social behaviour. This counter argument is merely one example of a manner in which more moderate views may be expressed.
It is by no means a total remedy to social ills. It’s merely one way of maintaining an open discussion without marginalising large numbers of people on the grounds that they might possess a view which is designated as unacceptable by a few loud, self-righteous, self-anointed overlords of what is acceptable in the public discourse. Essentially, this is about the public being able to trust the media again.
With more sensible and inclusive discussion in the public discourse, it’s much easier to avoid radicalisation in all its forms, have a greater informed public and lessen the need for populist demagogues to rise to prominence on a platform of popular resentment.
-Samuel Medici of Samichon Media.