Friday, January 26, 2018

Would we be better off ignoring Bannon than protesting his presence?

It was a rule of thumb I once heard from a former news colleague about the importance of covering events by white supremacists and other crackpots – it was important to do so in order to expose them.

BANNON: Better off ignored?
Let the public see how lame and pathetic they truly are so as to discredit anything they ever have to say.

A PART OF me was always skeptical of such logic – particularly in this Age of Trump that we’re now in where the crackpots are more than eager to scream “fake news” and want to believe only what falls in line with their own loony ideology.

They’re more than likely to want to believe the loony talk and use the fact that it got covered as evidence of its truthfulness.

So what do I think of those University of Chicago students who on Thursday felt compelled to protest the possible presence of one-time Trump adviser Steven Bannon on the Hyde Park neighborhood campus?

I actually wonder if this is an instance where Bannon would be likely to show up, draw a miniscule crowd and wind up being ignored. Whereas attention has now been drawn to his possible arrival, and Bannon himself is likely to have a bolstered ego as a result.

AFTER ALL, WOULD so many people get so pissed off if he weren’t such an important person? If we’d ignore him, it might be a blow to his ego by showing how irrelevant he and his followers are to the true majority of our society.

For the record, a professor at the Booth School of Business invited Bannon (who when he wasn’t working for the Trump administration was, until recently, the head of a website devoted to spewing the kind of rhetoric the crackpots enjoy) to be a part of a forum on globalization and immigration.

Bannon, whom many have claimed is motivated by racist ideas, would be expected to speak out on how bad those ideas are for our nation, while an academic type yet-to-be-determined would speak on their behalf.

TRUMP: Backers consider protests a win
I could easily envision such a program attracting a couple-dozen spectators on campus, with no attention paid by the general public.

EXCEPT NOW, THEY’RE going to be able to boast to dozens of protesters tossing out rhetoric such as “Nazi thug” and “illegitimate fascist.”

Which I’m sure Bannon and his ilk will somehow take as signs of how “out-of-touch” the majority of us are with them. Only they want to believe they’re the majority. Yes, I think that when Bannon learned of this outburst, his ego got bloated.

Which is the last thing I would want to see become of a man who was considered by some to be the brains behind the most absurd of President Donald Trump’s ridiculous rhetoric during the months last year when Bannon actually had a White House office and Oval Office access.

A part of me believes this so much because I remember back to my own college days in the mid-1980s – back when a big issue for protest were the apartheid policies that resulted in a racially-segregated South Africa. Many U.S. businesses made a point of cutting their investment there so as to try to sway protests.

I REMEMBER THE protests that took place, and the forums held on campus that did little to sway anybody. In fact, I always suspected the people most inclined to back the old regime (from back in the days when Nelson Mandela was regarded as just another black man in prison) took a certain amount of pride.

A moment from the dismal past
Particularly whenever they started screaming “Communist” to describe Mandela and anybody else who had a problem with a roughly 10 percent minority being in charge of the country as a whole.

There are times I wonder if such rhetoric actually prolonged the existence of the old South Africa that might have withered away more quickly if we hadn’t made the nitwits feel all the more important for their rancid rhetoric.

Just as I’m sure there are those who are eagerly awaiting the day that Trump and his allies get reduced back to irrelevance within our society just as the days of separateness are now an absurd part of South Africa’s past.


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