The Age of Scapegoating

Here’s one to read and think about from Robert S. Becker at Nation of Change.

Six Witch-Hunts Inform Our ‘Age of Scapegoating’


Ever reckon how future earthlings will sum up our whirling, unhinged, hyper-partisan dervish of an era? Nix on “Golden Age,” though even worst times ahead will inflate this era with a nostalgic glow. Forget “Renaissance” as one-third of our country considers classical, liberal humanism the menace. Too much fundamentalist shaking goin’ on, let alone the imminent Rapture. Even so, no “Age of Faith” either as church membership plummets and the god-fearing fret over irreligious children.

Surely “Age of Enlightenment” is out, first because the 18th C. bagged it and second, today’s merciless scorn for evolution and climate change, let alone still-born Birtherism, fondness for capital punishment – plus Rush Limbaugh still pontificates – all speak to devolution, not wisdom. “Return of the Know-nothings”? Okay, naysayers who cling to doom and gloom will reprise the “Dark Ages.” But that term, which distorted spirited medieval times, is out of sync with the flashy, electronics-bright Information Age. Ditto, entitling our age after the dominant, global belief system (called science), the most palpable religion (reverence for technology) and, like it or now, the predominance of western, corporate capitalism.

No, to capture the modern spirit, especially the American narrative, a darker core emerges, thus my nomination is the “Age of Scapegoating.” Are politics not obsessed with witch-hunting the innocent, providing base emotional releases through destructive rituals? Did not our latest scandal from the Christie administration prey on guiltless commuters gridlocked in the four-day, Fort Lee bridge calamity? Embracing trend-setting scandals, scapegoating coughs up, especially for the right, sham justifications for every wingnut craze while defending heinous actions or immoral inaction. Scapegoating, like sound bites, focuses on some fabricated, momentary crisis, thus obscuring all fundamental causes. To paraphrase Voltaire on God, “if scapegoats didn’t exist, yahoos would have to invent them.”

Six Sacrifices Set the Stage

While groups far and wide qualify as modern prey (gay populations, Hispanic immigrants, non-violent Muslims, our poorest minorities [especially with unwanted pregnancies], nearly all Gulf fishermen first decimated, then demonized by BP’s legal shenanigans, let’s focus on the most visible, juiciest of ritualistic scapegoating.

Stop a moment and consider what your list of sacrifices to the Age of Scapegoating would be. Here are the ones Becker suggests but he admits that their may be others that should be considered. Read the full article to get the details.

  • Al Gore, the Winningest Loser
  • Millions Sacrificed by Wars Against Terrorism
  • The Cheney Vendetta Against Wilson-Plame.
  • Howard Dean’s ’04 Crucifixion
  • The “Illegitimate” Obama Presidency
  • Whistleblowers – Assange, Manning and Snowden.

An interesting note on Scapegoating: in today’s more modern, industrial world, the metaphor of the goat sent out into the wilderness taking all our sins with it seems a bit dated. Perhaps the more contemporary cliché, Throw Under the Bus, is becoming our 21st century answer to the scapegoat.

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