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OPINION recoilmag.com by Benjamin Hunter Radio personality Rush Limbaugh, who seized the Haitian crisis as an opportunity to act extra-crazy.

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  • OPINION

    Meme (noun): a postulated unit of cultural ideas,symbols or practices, which can be transmit-ted from one mind to another through speech,gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. Following the election of President Obama,several conspiracy theories have been inter-laced into the fabric of the American conscious-

    ness through vari-ous communicativeextensions: Obamawasnt born inAmerica, Healthreformers want tokill the elderly, TheNew World Order isen route, H1N1vaccines will steril-ize people, and soon and so on. Infor-mation circulated ont h eInterneta n d

    through e-mail on face value canbe compelling. Rich colors, capti-vating animations, and persuasivepros combine to create a reality thatmany embrace as truth, in turn thenarratives (stories) gain forwardmomentum, eventually developinga meme. As consumers of informa-tion, we must ask ourselves wherethe roots of these grossly distortedrealities come from. We should alsocheck people when they jump toconclusions that cannot be backedup. Before the age of the mass ac-cess to the Internet and prior to cablenews outlets gaining popularity over the net-works, journalism played a significant role inkeeping the people of our country informed withan allegiance to digging for the truth. Cable tele-vision news has turned into a deluge of opinion-ated banter which Stephen Colbert so poignantlydubbed truthiness. It doesnt take a rocketsurgeon to recognize that when an anchor per-son uses the phrase some people say... thereis no way on earth there is any factual validityto their offerings. The more shocking, the largerthe response. The more sensational, the stron-ger the advertising segments. This is not whatthe forefathers intended when they conceptu-alized freedom of press.

    These forces of nonsense and misinforma-tion will always exist in a democratic society.The freedom we enjoy gives breath to all ideasno matter how disturbing or farfetched. But be-fore I get to the point I am going to make, beconscious of the media you consume, and donttake these carefully crafted doomsday memesto heart. They are the voices of a dying breed ofthought, craftily polluting the brains of many ofthose who are in the generations of our parentsand grandparents. Help your relatives see thelight; progressive change is cultural and it in-volves educating our community. So help that

    uncle or aunt that listens to Rush Limbaugh orThe 700 Club, because after the earthquake inHaiti, those right-wing polluters wore theirwarped hearts on their sleeves. There was an earthquake in Haiti. Tens of thou-sands of people are dead. Pat Robertson wenton the air and said, Haitians made a pact withthe devil, and that God was punishing them.Limbaugh did say that the earthquake will giveObama political momentum. These people al-lude to all the other distortions that stand in theway of progress. Cut the reach of their tonguesby exposing their maniacal lunacy, and do whatyou can to help the people of Haiti by visitingwww.redcross.org.After a year-long hiatus, Benjamin Hunter isback at the chalkboard with his monthly break-down. He is an Adjunct Professor of Communi-cations at GVSU and plays in the Grand Rap-ids rock band Head.

    Memes & poisonous narratives:the Neo-Right and Haiti

    recoilmag.com volume 10 issue 2 february 18

    Pat Robertson wenton the air and said,Haitians made a

    pact with the devil,and that God waspunishing them.

    by Benjamin Hunter

    Radio personality Rush Limbaugh, who seized theHaitian crisis as an opportunity to act extra-crazy.