Cheryl Pappas


Archive for January, 2010

“Cynicism” is the new “Patriotic”

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

There are brilliant and not-so-brilliant political pundits, and it is thrilling when sharp, knowledgeable political experts speak and educate us publicly.  That’s not me.  I’m a communications analyst; a word girl.  What are they really saying? is my gig.

The substance of last night’s State of the Union address glazed me over.  I like to think I know a piece of substance when I hear one.  I didn’t hear it last night.  Optimistically,  I leave  hard-core political interpretations to true experts, and eagerly await discovering the existing substance I  missed. 

What I am hearing reminds me of George W. Bush’s unending vocabulary tactic;  the use of his favorite word, “patriotic”, to manipulate the American people, post-9/11. 

Remember what I am calling the strategic and “social blackmailing” use of the word, “patriotic”?  As in, “You are either with us or against us”, and “If you question the tactics and military activities in Iraq”, well, you are simply not “with us”.  You are downright “unpatriotic”.  This was effective enough to muzzle the entire country from telling their truth in response to post-9/11 administration misdeeds.

Obama’s emphasis, in last night’s speech, on cautioning us from becoming “cynical”, uses this word in an eerily similar and strident context.

Here’s the question:  Is it “cynicism” to register the falsehoods in Obama’s words in light of his disconnected actions?  Cynisim must not be mistaken for being awake and speaking out.  Let us not confuse cynicism with active disagreement and the courage to respond to national events and powerful political choices that are just wrong.

There is a place for balanced “cynicism” if we are to survive.  By “balanced cynicism”, I mean nothing more than the acknowledgement, and yes, acceptance, of all potential truth, both “good” and “bad”, without which we are blinded and unprepared to meet and respond to life as it exists.  

Let’s not agree that “cynicism” is a dirty word.

Get It While You Can

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Once again, it is a case of The Vanishing News.  

This time, the media has managed to shift American focus from a monumental Supreme Court ruling,  replacing our, yes, crisis, with a catastrophe in another country.  All eyes are on Haiti, and what a boon for the powers that be to fill the air with hypnotic Haiti Extreme video. Yes, Haiti is a true disaster.  But here’s what happened to us:

 January 21, 2010, New York Times:  ” A bitterly divided Supreme Court on January 21, 2010, rules that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.”

Scan the media and op-ed pages of even, yes, the above-mentioned newspaper, and what do you see today? 

The lens from which we view this urgent ruling is now five days old and not just out-of-focus, but gone

The success of the media’s BLUR campaign has given many commentators, writers, and bloggers their latest, largest, (and weirdly, easiest), spinning opportunity.  The matter of the ruling was overblown, they say,  in its initially-perceived significance, and really, not such a big deal.  

Let’s hit the public hard and rerun the Haiti footage and freak people out of their minds with visuals.  Don’t forget to warn those who live in earthquake-vulnerable locations that this will happen to them.  Give ’em a generous dollop of terror on their late-night local news.  Sweet dreams!

The real life-changing American news shows up, when you can catch it, for an instant.  It then deliberately is lifted and shredded, inevitably to fade away in the chaos and confusion of media double-speak.  

Then there are those who just don’t care.  Indeed, even television shows like the esteemed, The View, as well as on most nightly current “event” talk shows, the story does not exist. 

The hosts are simply too enthralled with the whereabouts of Tiger Woods.  WHERE IS HE?   Hosts ask a new panel of  location experts each night.  And the demands of gossiping about Conan and Jay apparently never end,  especially if one is fascinated by the study of colleagues being handed harsh judgement and bad news. 

Was it just me, or did I see a rather intelligent Joe Klein rolling his eyes as one host determinedly turned back to the Tiger topic and asked his opinion.  The talented Joy Behar literally introduces nonsense panel “discussions” with the question, “Does anyone even care?”  She exhibits her charming mock-outrage as she introduces this wasting of time, as if to say, “What a ridiculous subject, but enough thinking about that.  This is mine and I choose to go there.”   Oyyyy, Joy, why do you care enough to use all your precious airtime on stupid, empty subjects?   A big disappointment for those of us who are fans and will always root for her.

Now there I go.  Talking talk shows rather than staying on topic with what truly matters.  See how easy it is to be entertained by distraction?  See how we all want to step away from the intensity of important matters, even as they disappear from our view?

Here’s the lesson for today:   Let us stay awake and alert for all  momentary sparks of real news that will genuinely affect  our lives.   Our live do matter, and the moment is now.  As Janis Joplin once warned,  “Get It While You Can”.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: American Update

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Obama’s presidency is a study in American public relations as it relates to race relations.  The real “hope” in Obama was that we had finally arrived at realizing Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream in electing a president with stellar qualities who happens to have black skin.  Was this not evidence that long-held American racist beliefs were a thing of the past?  Sadly, no.

As I study the social/political landscape, racist hypocrisy is everywhere to be found under the vulnerable veil of political correctness. What we learn from the Gates episode is that racism is still alive and well.  The cover-up, however, is glossier today, making it harder to recognize the presence of the same old bigotry.

Would the Gates episode even make a news splash if he had been a white man?  I don’t think so.  Therein lies the tricky-to-identify, yet recurring spotlight on race, showing that racism is far from over.  Obama, himself, quickly read the situation as a racial-profiling episode, stating that the Cambridge police “acted stupidly”.  He then backpedaled, complimenting all parties involved.  He obviously wants to broadcast–for his own reasons–that racism doesn’t exist.  Alas, having a “Beer Summit” doesn’t erase our nation’s racist reality.

Harry Reid’s lapse in PC vocabulary reminds us that just below the politically staged surface, all the unfinished business of hatred and bigotry rest unattended.

Here’s the truth:  even the world-wide ubiquitous presence of our black American President posing as a symbol of the end of American Racism turns out to be a lesson in appearances.  It fails to mask the racist hatred that is real and alive.  It is the subject Americans must identify and work to truly “change”, not just to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, but in order for humanity to survive.


Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

“WE ARE AT WAR WITH al-QAEDA”  is the concrete message, underlined every day in the media, whether from the mouth of the President or others. 

Let’s replace “al-QAEDA” with the word, “HATRED”. 

WE ARE AT WAR WITH  HATRED.  We want to kill our enemy, “HATRED”. 

We certainly would not put out HATRED in our fight to get rid of  HATRED.

That would be stupid.

What Happens When You Are Overwhelmed?

Monday, January 11th, 2010

When you find yourself unable to think a clear thought.

When you are anxious about seemingly nothing and everything.

These are the symptoms of our times. 

Do nothing.  Breathe.  Identify how scary it feels for everyone, no matter how others seem to you.

Everyone is in this time together.

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