In an earlier blog I called Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin the Disharmony Trio, because they are getting rich (well, Limbaugh is already rich) from sowing the seeds of disharmony, and, to change the metaphor, fanning the flames of intolerance. They do not, of course, believe that this is what they’re doing; they believe that they’re just concerned citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. I’m just as sure that they’re sincere as I’m sure that it’s easy to believe sincerely in causes that make you rich and famous. Anyone who disregards Deep Throat’s advice in All The President’s Men, “follow the money,” is very naïve indeed.
Since the Disharmony Trio has so much invested in sowing the seeds of disharmony, they need at all times to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys. So they have hit a bump in the road in the tendency toward national harmony that followed the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. As I said at the time, any event that moves our nation toward harmony and understanding threatens their livelihood.
I revisit the dilemma of the Disharmony Trio as the most visible manifestation of what Will Bunch called the Backlash, because the dictators of the Arab world (or strongmen, as we euphemistically called them) are facing a similar dilemma. As long as they could persuade their subjects that the world consisted of good guys, Muslims, in this case, and bad guys, American infidels of course, they were able to hang onto power.
Now, however, we live in the age of the image as seen on computer and tv screens, so if a picture used to be worth a thousand words, it’s now worth several million words at least. That matters because of what the Arabs themselves could see on their screens. They could see Mubarak’s thugs riding camels in the streets of Cairo and beating the protesters with whips. To state the obvious, it was not possible to persuade wounded and bleeding Egyptians that the guys on camels were CIA agents. Everybody knew that they were Egyptians acting on Mubarak’s orders. When the old definition of good guys and bad guys collapsed, so did Mubarak’s regime.
We now see something very similar in Libya, which has long been one of the worst places in the world, along with North Korea and Somalia. Now that Libyan warplanes have strafed their own citizens, and some of the pilots have defected to Malta rather than follow orders to do that, Gaddafi sounds even crazier than usual when he rails against America, as he did in his most recent rant/speech.
At first it may seem odd that friending someone on Facebook has the power to limit the audience of the Disharmony Trio and to make tyrants tremble, but it’s true. The more people we friend on Facebook, in our daily lives, and in our foreign policy, the more we will realize how destructive the opposition of good guys and bad guys really is. To paraphrase the great Joni Mitchell, we are all captive on the carousel of an endangered earth.