A photographer went to public places and asked strangers (meaning people who didn’t know each other, not just people who didn’t know him) to stand together for a photo and touch each other. Great results:
A pretty good (albeit depressing) piece about the toxic alloy of beliefs that includes climate change denial: Who is orchestrating the cyber-bullying?:
The floods of offensive and threatening emails aimed at intimidating climate scientists have all the signs of an orchestrated campaign by sceptics groups. The links are well-hidden because mobilizing people to send abuse and threats is well outside the accepted bounds of democratic participation; indeed, some of it is illegal. And an apparently spontaneous expression of citizen concern carries more weight than an organised operation by a zealous group.
Without access to ISP logs, it is difficult to trace the emails to a source. However, it is clear that hard-line denialists congregate electronically at a number of internet nodes where they engage in mutual reinforcement of their opinions and stoke the rage that lies behind them.
Those who operate these sites retail the “information” that reinforces the assertions made by their followers. They often post highly personal attacks on individuals who speak in favour of mainstream science and measures to combat global warming, knowing from experience that they will stimulate a stream of vituperation from their supporters.
The posts on these sites often provoke an outpouring of the most outlandish conspiracy theories and vilification of individuals. There is no restraining influence and, in the middle of one of these frenzies, it would be a brave sceptic who called for caution and moderation in the ideas expressed or the language used.
On these sites discussion of the “global warming conspiracy” seamlessly segues into a hodge-podge of right-wing populist grievances and causes, including defending rural property rights, the martyrdom of farming hunger-striker Peter Spencer, the errors of the Club of Rome, blood on the hands of Rachel Carson for causing DDT to be banned, the evils of Al Gore, the plan by the United Nations to dominate the world, and the need to defend freedom and democracy from these threats. Sceptics are explicitly or implicitly portrayed as freedom fighters battling attempts by scheming elites to shore up their power or impose a world government.
Go read it all.
In glitzy shadows, a health reform foe lurks (emphasis added):
IN EARLY November, thousands of protesters descended on Capitol Hill to hear Representative Michele Bachmann decry House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “takeover’’ of health care. As they disembarked from their buses, they were greeted with doughnuts and coffee, and handed protest signs and talking points about socialized medicine. Few of the protesters were aware that a right-wing billionaire had paid for the meals, buses, or salaries of the helpful guides. On the same day, this rich proprietor was toasted by Manhattan’s fashionable socialites during the City Opera’s opening night, where he was lauded for his support.
David Koch, an oil and gas billionaire who is the ninth-richest person in the United States, according to Forbes magazine, was simultaneously responsible for a $100 million refurbished opera house and a protest that featured signs comparing health reform to the Holocaust. The two sides to Koch’s activism aren’t unique – they harken to a long tradition of conservative tycoons who were great philanthropists with one hand and ruthless powerbrokers with the other. But Koch’s hidden presence in the health care debate illustrates the extent to which the Old Right is creating – and then hiding behind – the grassroots fervor of middle-class opponents of health reform.
Americans for Prosperity is leading the way in channeling recession-era distress into anger at President Obama. This “grassroots’’ group has orchestrated many of the tea party protests, as well as steering activists into disrupting town hall meetings of Democratic members of Congress. Americans for Prosperity’s tactics are not new. Just as Koch inherited his oil business from his father, Americans for Prosperity borrows from the ultra-right group also founded in part by his dad, the John Birch Society.
Conceived by Robert Welch and a small group of conservative industrialists, including Fred Koch – David’s father and the namesake of the family firm of Koch Industries – the John Birch Society cloaked its pro-business, anti-civil rights agenda in the rhetoric of the Cold War.
The Birch Society battled communism by labeling President Kennedy a traitor who had to be impeached, denounced taxes as a creeping red menace, and attacked the forces of racial integration as being directed by the Kremlin.
Shortly after the Birch Society faded, David Koch founded Americans for Prosperity in 1984 (then known as Citizens for a Sound Economy). Americans for Prosperity still portrays itself as a defender of freedom and the average Joe. On the Americans for Prosperity website, financial regulations, health reform, net neutrality, and the estate tax are all assailed as forms of socialism.
While David Koch is celebrated as a patron of New York opera, his Americans for Prosperity donations have gone largely unsung. With his millions, he will not only have saved this year’s performance of the “Nutcracker,’’ but also contributed greatly to the obstruction of universal health care, the denial of climate change, and the derailment of much of President Obama’s domestic agenda.
His dad would be pleased.