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Attention seeker

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) stirred up a hornet’s nest on Friday by comparing mask mandates to Stars of David (photo, left) and alluding to Nazi gas chambers (read story here).

There’s nothing original or creative about this; rightwing pastors and other anti-maskers have used this rhetoric, and she’s taking a cue from them.

(I won’t link those stories or videos; they’re easy to find, if you want to see them for some reason.)

Outside the far right’s circle of crazies and conspiracy nuts, rational people (e.g., the American Jewish Congress) wring their hands, and decry how awful these rhetorical antics are. They shouldn’t. They’re only attention-seeking.

Decades ago, I heard a college political science lecturer say publicity is the lifeblood of politicians, so much that “bad publicity is better than no publicity.” He was right.

This is what it’s all about, folks. Greene comprehends the value of notoriety. She also knows that actual legislating, and solving society’s problems, is hard and unglamorous drudge work. She’s taking the easy path to fame and following. She contributes nothing to governing, but probably never intended to. After all, she hails from an ideological camp bent on destroying government, not making it work, so why would she want to?

There has long been a debate about what to do with such people: Ignore them, or meet them head-on? It’s a tough question. Countless people have argued that Hitler wasn’t taken seriously soon enough (some would go all the way back to infancy; hence, the “Would you kill baby Hitler?” debate). They contend it’s risky to ignore people who might become actual threats; and in Hitler’s case, they’re undoubtedly right. But most of the people who drive you crazy aren’t potential Hitlers; they’re just bleating sheep.

Still, bleating sheep are still a problem, if a different kind of problem. This problem arises every day on the internet, where anyone can post anything, and ignorance abounds. You could say there are people who put stupidity on a pedestal and worship it. There are plenty of them. Classic examples are climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers, and other anti-science types. Do you respond to these people with facts and sources, or walk away? For starters, you can’t reason with them, because they’re not open to either factual evidence or logical arguments. I usually walk away because, one, you’re not going to change their minds, and two, ninety-eight percent of the time they’re trolling you (i.e., “owning the libs”).

Greene is a troll. She hustles kudos — and money — from her tribe by stirring up the libs. Psychologically, she probably has a deep-seating craving for attention, too. (Deprived of attention as a child? Who cares? I really don’t want to know anything about her childhood.) She may be ADHD or have Asperger’s. (I generally shy away from dabbling in diagnosing people, but it’s impossible to overlook that this woman isn’t well.)

So, I think it depends on the case. You must take a Hitler seriously. Racists, bigots, and other haters, too. You can’t let appeals to hate, bigotry, and unreason go unanswered. Hitler was a demagogue, not a troll, who was capable of creating — and did create — a destructive mass movement that ultimately ripped civilization apart and killed millions. People like that are a cancer which must be stopped before getting out of control.

Greene (image, right) is not of that mold. She’s not leading a movement, only parroting others’ demagoguery. She’s not exactly of the toddler-tantrum mold, but close enough to apply the parental analogy. And as any parent knows, or quickly learns, most of the time the best way to deal with a toddler tantrum is by ignoring it. Catering to it rewards it, and when a toddler figures out something works, he’ll keep using that tactic to get the attention he wants.

What Greene wants is attention. The media shouldn’t give it to her, and we shouldn’t pay attention to her. From now on, for the most part, this blog won’t. I’m not exactly imposing radio-silence on her in this blog, but I’ll limit it to genuine news, and very little about her is genuinely newsworthy.

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  1. Mark Adams #
    1

    When the government mandates citizens were an article of clothing, a mask, a hat, a star, a gold cross, even when it is well meaning in a health crises it is the government using its power. Something our constitution limits. Ultimately it is our representatives who must vote and say we must wear a gold star if we are Jewish, a cross if we are Catholic, a mask, ect. This is so we can either agree and be sheep or throw the bastards out of office. Or our courts at some point must remind our executive of its limited powers. Otherwise we will have a government that thinks it can tell a group of people they must wear a star, that government can seize this groups property at the governments will, organize the public against the group, and even load these people into cattle cars to be taken away to be murdered or enslaved while being starved to death. I think there are blacks who believe our government could do this. I think they are right, and mask mandates should at minimum make us all uncomfortable. When we the people say enough and collectively refuse the mask mandate is done, there is no prison that can hold us all. We should be able to tell our government no, and to butt out of our business. Till then aren’t masks wonderful.

    Of course politicians are supposed to seek attention. It is in the job description. Many are branding experts and the rest want to be. Some like Delano Roosevelt know one must keep up appearances, Few Americans knew he was wheelchair bound. I doubt even today a handicapped, blind, deaf person can be open about their disability and win the White House. If one does today they will have to draw our attention to it and seek our attention. Hopefully we will determine their fitness for office on their ideas and politics rather than their disability their opponents will certainly mention…often. [This comment has been edited.]

  2. Roger Rabbit #
    2

    While a mask offers you some protection, wearing one is primarily for the protection of others. That’s why airlines and many businesses still require them, even in places where government no longer does. But mask mandates are within the police power of government; no one has a right to endanger others, and protecting the public from anti-maskers’ stupidity is a proper governmental role. Courts largely have upheld mask mandates.



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