Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Media (a Singular Noun) as "The Enemy of the People"

«Second thing we do — let's kill the reporters!»

What people believe and think and feel is complicated, dynamic, often contradictory, and usually — with "ordinary people," "civilians" — the business only of themselves, family, or close friends, or members of a jury that has to judge motivation.

We can, though, work through the logic of various political positions and make a kind of sense out of most "senseless violence" or what, in this case, at least one reporter felt as senseless hostility. So consider the line of thought and/or feeling —

* "The media" is a singular noun and one essential thing.

* One drop of evil poisons and impurifies the essence of a limb of the Body Politic.

* The Leader of the People channels the will of the People — "Real Americans" in this case — and embodies the essence of the People (i.e., the people who count).

* Various members of The Media attack the President, who is the Leader.

** Therefore The Media attacks the People.

*** Therefore The Media is the Enemy of the People. 
(Also because reporters are often cosmopolitan — and *that* word has a history! — while the People are nationalists; and reporters as much as anyone, and sometimes more than most, can be obnoxious, condescending snobs in dealing with "Real Americans.")

And therefore reporters and others in The Media shouldn't be too surprised if a figuratively infected limb of the body politic gets some pretty radical cutting (or amputation) and some of them eventually find themselves in very literal unemployment lines and happy not to be in detention camps.

"Enemy of the people" is a Stalinist line, but _An Enemy of the People_ is the title of an 1882 play by Henrik Ibsen set in a nice little (unnamed) town we can see in good old democratic (and hygienic) Norway. Like, democracy doesn't have to be liberal democracy; populism has always had its dark side; and just how the "demos" in "democracy" gets defined — the People in popular government — can get nasty. There are a number of ghosts to consult here, starting maybe with Socrates from democratic Athens to victims of festive popular pogroms and lynchings.

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