Pretty much the whole of my life (all 36 years of it) has been a time of struggle and despair for ordinary Americans. Sure, there was a brief window of not-so-bad during the Clinton years, but taken as a whole, with 'free trade,' impeachment, and the nightly news obsessing with the First Penis, it was hardly paradise. We all could list a litany of complaints as long as you please. And we could probably list a few triumphs as well, that the regressives haven't managed to undo yet. But I'm guessing most of us, like me, have one or maybe a handful of moments that threatened to send us into a spiral of despair. A moment that symbolized everything that was wrong with this country. That moment that felt like a political punch in the gut.
Because I'm a curious sort, I want to know what moment haunts you all. Whether it's personal, local, national or international. I'll get the ball rolling on the flip.
My own is a little bit weird, I think. It's far from the most important thing that's happened. It's really just a small part of a much larger series of events that's screwed up our world. But it's one moment that keeps popping into my head, all this time later. It haunts me - and I'm not pleased with that. Sometimes I feel like a failure as a liberal because this is the thing that keeps coming back - not Katrina, not 9/11, not Dr. Tiller's assassination, or Oklahoma City. Events that directly, fatally, affected people.
The thing that haunts me is the firing of Phil Donohue from MSNBC. I'm not sure why, exactly. Mr. Donohue, I'm sure, is doing fine. I didn't watch his show with any regularity, even. Nobody died (directly) from this event. It didn't affect me emotionally, in real time, the way the events listed above did. Or like Bush v. Gore, or election night 2010 hurt.
I think it probably hangs with me, keeps coming back to my mind, because the firing brought home and symbolized an important reality. The institutions that we, as Americans, had relied upon to keep the country on the right track were failing badly. They were corrupt through and through. I'd already drifted away from religion, having seen the corruption in too many organized Christian churches. It was clear that government officials up to and including the Supreme Court were failing us. But this one act made clear just how corrupt and sycophantic the media had become. Mr. Donohue was fired for being anti-war. For being a liberal. It epitomized the 'no liberals on the teevee' rule. And warned loud and clear that dissent would be silenced by the powerful. The media would not give comfort to the afflicted - and it sure as hell wouldn't afflict the comfortable. The whole enterprise, from the conservative WSJ to "liberal" MSNBC was about consolidating money and power for a select few.
I was stunned, and hurt. This is not why we have freedom of the press guaranteed in the Bill of Rights! If the press is completely beholden to the powerful, what does it need of guarantees? I'm still haunted.
What still haunts you?