Thursday, September 14, 2023

#257 / Viral Moments


I have already commented on what I denominated the "DeSantis Doctrine," and have objected to the proposal, by presidential candidate Ron DeSantis (pictured), that United States Border Patrol officers should simply kill those who are seeking asylum in the United States, should these immigrants push past border barriers in their efforts to reach U.S. soil.

Naturally, I was pleased when the Washington Post published an opinion editorial that pretty much agreed with me. The Post's editorial was headlined as follows: "DeSantis’s ugly descent into ‘invasion’ hysteria can’t go unanswered." I think that you can slide past the paywall, to read the whole column, if you are willing to provide an email address, so click that link, and give it a try!

As is so often the case, it was a particular phrase in Greg Sargent's opinion piece that caught my attention, and that has resulted in this blog posting. Here's the comment, from Sargent's column, that stimulated this current reflection: 

Viral moments are the coin of the realm in today’s politics, and this topic delivers. Earlier this year, when Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) repeatedly (and accurately) accused Republicans of trafficking in great replacement theory, they spluttered with outrage, leading to widespread media coverage. Taking on GOP “invasion” mania entails making a number of points. One is that as official conduct goes, it’s profoundly deranged to use such terms to describe human beings who are fleeing humanitarian horrors and just want to contribute to our productive economic system (emphasis added).
As Sargent notes, getting some comment or proposal to "go viral" on the internet is a highly-desired outcome. In order to cause that to occur, ever more outrageous comments are often effective. The Post's  commentary focused on DeSantis's use of the word "invasion," pointing out how inappropriate this characterization is. My objection went more directly to DeSantis's suggestion that those seeking to enter the United States should simply be shot and killed. 

At any rate, here's my thought, prompted by the quote above: In the way we most typically use the word "viral," the word indicates infectious agents that are both a symptom and a cause of disease. I truly hadn't made the connection before, but this article stimulated the thought. Any political effort bent on making ideas, or comments, or political proposals "go viral" are symptoms of a political pathology. They're sick!

Think about it. Do you ever have happy thoughts when you hear that some idea that you support has "gone viral"? Maybe you shouldn't be so happy. In general (and certainly in politics), that can't be a good thing!

When political tacticians suggest that attempting to initiate a disease reaction is a worthy political objective  (knowing that making our comments ever more outrageous is the way to get that reaction), something is wrong!

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