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Smart v. Stupid

The outrage industry

Con-artists are making you apoplectic for their own gain

Whether or not the murderous embassy rampage in Libya turns out to have been unplanned or directed as cover for a rebel attack, it is a lesson in how an international outrage machine benefits fire starters on all sides. Often, this machine uses religious passion – combined with outright lying – to turn otherwise ordinary Muslims, Christians and Jews into frothing idiots.

Like any other industry, the outrage machine has strata. In our country, the low end includes Internet flamers, Newsmax, the acolytes of Andrew Brietbart and the Malkan “Machine.” The midsize purveyors of outrage include politicians like Michelle Bachmann, Louie Gohmert and Peter King, the documented hate groups, Gingrich Productions, and the successful hate pundits, Anne Coulter and Sarah Palin. The “Multinationals” of hate include FOX News, terrorism consulting firms, international security firms like Blackwater (now XE) and (unfortunately) the Romney/Ryan campaign.

(Romney campaign advisors include the Bush-era Neoconservatives and WMD-songbirds John Bolton and Dan Senior. It’s likely that one or both of those two guys played a large role in why Romney stepped in manure this week.)

Of course the industry also includes local small-timers like Terry Jones, Florida’s nutty Koran-burning “pastor” who heaps indignity on Muslims to fill his small collection plate. It includes Libyan followers of al-Qaeda. And it includes any number of pastors, rabbis and mullahs around the world. There are hate-creators in every country and every religion, all ostensibly fighting each other but all effectively making each other richer and more influential. They literally can’t afford to let hate go away.

(To be fair, the left also includes plenty of people who want you to get angry but far as we know, no one who advocates that you hate or kill based on ethnicity or religion.)

In short, there is an entire international industry existing to profit from stirring up fears of Armageddon, revolution, social collapse and mass-murder. And more often than not, these professional bomb-throwers use the cover of religion or freedom to justify yelling fire in a crowded theater.

The latest example is a Muslim-hate video that hate mongers in the Middle East have used to foment demonstrations on the street. Without going into detail, the video paints the Muslim prophet as despicable in every aspect including that he raped children. You can imagine the response from evangelical Christians if Jesus was portrayed raping a child.

The video accomplished what it was intended to do – to make Christians fear Muslims and make Muslims hate Christians. Its creator is either a shadowy “producer” (an Israeli-American and convicted felon) or a fat, pasty Muslim-hater who has an apocalyptic Internet show called Wake up America. This second guy, Steven Klein, has written that “Muslims are a cancer.” He is certainly somewhere in the middle of creating the film that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called “disgusting,” “reprehensible” and “meant to provoke.” The Southern Poverty Law Center says he leads a hate group and is affiliated with several others. The first guy now appears to be a stooge.

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What all these outrage factories have in common is that they operate in symbiosis. Each provides the other with ammunition. So a crass American outrage-creator makes a crappy film, parts of which make it to YouTube and become a tool that some outrage-creator in Egypt can use to foment civil unrest. Then the ensuing violence is used to prove the argument of the original outrage-creator. And that “proof” is used to justify the excesses of some outrage maker in Israel whose goal is to punish West Bank Arabs for some 70-year-old grudge. Everyone gets a slice of hate pie.

The bottom line (beyond a richer hate monger) also frequently includes a weapons sale. Much is being made of how much aid we give to Egypt every year, some $1.5 billion, and how they ought to be more grateful. But fully $1 billion of that comes with the requirement that they spend it on US-made weapons and military equipment. We provide foreign aid to sell American weapons. In fact, until recently Egypt was our largest operation to money-launder US taxpayer funds into corporate welfare.

The losers, of course, are citizens who practice social tolerance and religious believers who practice their beliefs as they were intended. Still, so many of these outrage stories turn out to have religious jingoism at their root. Apparently, it is a short step from religious tolerance to religious intolerance.

The faithful need to be constantly vigilant to make sure they are not being manipulated by some con-artist. The next time someone tells you that you should be outraged, take a breath and ask yourself what he has to gain by it. There is almost always an ulterior motive when the outrage machine is pumping out dirty, black smoke.

Jimmy Zuma splits his time between Washington, D.C. and Tucson. He writes the online opinion journal, Smart v. Stupid. He spent 5 years in Tucson in the early ‘80s, when life was a little slower, swamp coolers were a little more plentiful, Tucson’s legendary music scene was in full bloom, and the prevailing work ethic was “don’t - unless you have to.”

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What all these outrage factories have in common is that they operate in symbiosis. Each provides the other with ammunition.

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