The cartoonish patriotic rhetoric of the Sun News promotional video posted Thursday — with its apparently out of nowhere military snaredrum motif that actually seems like an involuntarily blurted out confession of intent — is suggestive of the template for all such films. These people too were “strong” and “proud” and occupied “the greatest place on earth,” as the Sun News people characterize Canada. The formula is unmistakable and familiar: boilerplate nationalist narrative, lots and lots of sentimental images of mountains, lakes, and people dressed in native costume (whether lederhosen or cowboy hats), and music used alternately to reassure and to rouse. Oh, and flags. Flags, flags, flags, flags, flags. It’s the semiotics of the inarticulate and easily led.
I harp on this because it is impossible to overlook at this late date what just two men — Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes — have done to degrade the state of reporting in the U.S. in little more than a decade, turning public discourse into a mad scramble of talking points and public opinion contests to be won or lost every news cycle. Murdoch and Ailes have demonstrated that we can never be complacent about this noxious form of hidden-in-plain-sight plutocracy. It’s not okay. It’s never okay. It costs us more than we can afford to lose at the best of times, and these are not the best of times: 1% of the population now possesses more wealth than the “bottom” 80%. The attitude of the new right increasingly seems to be that only they are allowed opinions, and only their opinions have any basis in truth. Their primary tactic is the shouting down or shutting out of dissent, either directly or (much more insidiously) indirectly through the brute accumulation of misrepresentation and lies and ginned up resentment. As we’ve seen with Fox News, it leads very quickly to the denial of verifiable evidence altogether. How else to account for the daily insanity that is Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin? How else to explain that the hate-mongering of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly — not to mention a distressing (and apparently increasing) number of elected Republicans — has become an accepted part of America’s weekly fare? We don’t need that here.