The ’90s and now, part 11

Moreover, there’s much less civil unrest than decades ago, and much of the culture-warring is being waged online rather than in person. From the post Politics may seem bad now, but it used to be much worse:

In the span of 150 years Americans fought a war over slavery to now a culture war over a Nike ad. I think that is progress, or at least having people unfriending each other over shoes is better than literally killing each other over slavery. According to the media, Trump is ‘unstable’ (whatever the hell that is even supposed to mean), yet to put things in perspective, for all the talk about political incivility, in 1856 Representative Preston Brooks (D-SC) nearly beat Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA) (even 160 years ago the left was violent) to death with a cane on the House floor.

Despite the media firestorm over the Unite the Right rally at Charlottesville, which indirectly claimed just a single life, by comparison and ignored by the media, the Rodney King riots claimed 63 lives and resulted in 2,383 injures. But because of the pervasiveness of social media, any unrest or even just a campus scuffle becomes breaking news broadcast to everyone in real-time, whereas in the past such events would have gone unreported. Nothing goes unnoticed, from the farthest reaches of China, all the way down to the local community colleges. In 2017, when assistant professor Lindsay Shepherd of Wilfrid Laurier College was reprimanded for merely showing her students a Jordan Peterson video, it made global news overnight.

For all the talk about racial strife and division in America, racialist provocateurs such as Khalid Abdul Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan, and David Duke were much more relevant in the sphere of public discourse of the early ’90s than any of the alt-right in 2015-2017. Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam, and Klansmen made numerous appearances on mainstream TV talk shows such as Springer (the infamous 1995 KKK episode) and Donahue, who in 1993 interviewed Khalid Abdul Muhammad. Race riots and the rise of black nationalism in the early ’90s coupled with the rise of militia and separatist movements, as well as political insurgencies such as Ross Perot and Pat Buchanon, both of whom ran successful campaigns in 1992 and the former being the most successful third party candidate ever, brought America much closer to balkanization and civil unrest than anything we’ve seen during and after the election Trump.

Although many pundits bemoan cultural degeneracy and decay of pop culture, things were arguably worse in the ’90s when the puerile humor and debauchery on MTV, HBO, and the Howard Stern Show dominated, all of which have given way in recent years to smarter programming on YouTube, such as Joe Rogan, who rather than making dick jokes, interviews scientists and other experts and has seen immense growth and popularity since 2013. The cheap political cheap shots and laughs of The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live have given way to more nuanced, less partisan discourse by Sam Harris, Dave Rubin, and Tim Pool (and the IDW, in general). Over the past 30 years, the ratings of late night TV and cable news have plunged as people seek more evolved, smarter discourse online on ‘smart’ sites such as Reddit and YouTube, as discussed in Intellect: The Universal Solvent.

Given such proclamations as the existence of WMDs in Iraq, or Hillary in 2016 being ‘inevitable’, is it any surprise people are trusting and watching the mainstream media less?