A Facebook friend, Sherri Nakken, has made me aware of a movement that appears to be going viral in the US—the “Walkaway Campaign” (https://www.walkawaycampaign.com). This movement was started by Brandon Straka, an attractive, young gay man originally from Nebraska. In this video, which I urge you to watch, he speaks with great conviction about his rejection of liberalism and the Democratic party and those he describes, but never names, whom he calls simply “the left.” He describes his movement as “a movement of true unity, compassion, and tolerance,” but, in fact, his message is entirely negative. He says he rejects racism of any kind, the marginalization of any human being based on their gender or sexual orientation, tyrannical group think, and a system which allows an ambitious, misinformed, dogmatic mob that suppresses free speech to steamroll over the truth. Who is this “mob?” The Democratic Party. The video is mostly a close-up head shot of Straka, punctuated by still images of people holding signs proclaiming “Fuck Middle America,” “The pigs are the enemy,” and “America was never great.” All this is presented as the positions of the Democratic Party. It is classic example of a technique of raising straw dogs and knocking them over.
What does Straka propose as a direction forward? He says he doesn’t care where you go after you reject the Democratic Party, but, in fact, he does say he has become a Republican. So this appears to me to be a veiled message of rejection of one political party in favor of the other.
To describe a purely negative and hateful message as “compassion and tolerance” boggles the mind, but it is typical of the rhetoric one hears these days in the US. We are living in a world where black is called white and alternate truths are proclaimed by leaders who contradict themselves with every other breath. Anyone who bothers to fact-check the statements made by President Trump realizes that the man is a pathological liar, but that is all right, because he will likely contradict himself within a day. Whatever your position on any issue, you can probably find a quote from Trump to support it. You just have to ignore the contrary statements.
All of this makes for good theater, and the media do love juicy theater. But there are issues that demand our response if we are to continue to thrive on this planet. Is there dramatic climate change in progress or is this just the rhetoric of “junk science?” Does human activity contribute to climate change or is it a purely natural process? Do the use of pesticides and GMO food products pose a risk for human health, or can we trust the corporations to look out for our interests? Is genetic modification of our species benign, or does the danger of irreversible damage lurk there?
We need to know about these issues much more than the latest Trump tweet, but we are distracted by the theater playing out all around us. We may be able to walk away from the Democratic Party, but we will not be able to walk away from these issues.
I just received an email that claims that the whole Walkaway Campaign was created by Russian agents, and that the photos of people who have walked away were taken from stock photos on Shutterstock. Fake news? I do not know? Does that matter as much as the issues in the previous paragraph? I think not.