Conservative provocateur Glenn Beck recently wrote a book called Addicted to Outrage. The book details the psychological power of constant outrage – the feeling of moral righteousness that it entails the person who is outraged, along with the postmodernism that empowers it in to our consciousness. Beck adds later in his book that fascism is the logical response to postmodernism.
The thesis of his book struck hard after I watched Race, a movie depicting American athlete Jesse Owens. I had heard that he was treated better in Germany than in Europe and after that movie, which depicted a harsh and brutal situation for him, I wondered if I was wrong or mistaken somehow.
In the movie Race, Jesse Owens is depicted as attending the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, wherein his agent takes him to meet Adolf Hitler, who walks out and leaves before Owens can shake his hand. Goebbels is depicted as asking, “You want mein fuhrer to shake hands with that?”
I say this with no intention to make Adolf Hitler look good or to, God forbid, be a Holocaust denier. I have ancestors in Jewish cemeteries and Hebrew tattooed on my arm to remember them. The problem is with a film portraying things that didn’t happen in order to push social anxiety and tension. Owens, at the time, actually said he was treated better in Germany than he was back in his own country:
“Hitler didn’t snub me—it was [FDR] who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me a telegram.” ~Jesse Owens, quoted in Triumph, a book about the 1936 Olympics by Jeremy Schaap.
Disturbingly, raw footage of the 1936 Olympics has been flagged by users, as if they are trying to censor it. The video shows the German crowd cheering Owens, as well as Adolf Hitler clapping. Hitler also did not shake the hands of any of the athletes. There’s no actual evidence of any bad experience or treatment while Owens was there. The Race movie actually perpetuated more anti-black stereotypes than old footage of Owens – whereas he seems like a strong, confident athlete in newsreel footage, Jesse Owens becomes a pathetic, womanizing slave in the film that is supposedly sympathetic to him. It’s actually quite messed up, when you think about it.
There’s a song by popular rapper Yelawolf called “Row Your Boat,” where the artist raps that “the media will graffiti up your vision.” Back in 2016, the Trump campaign along with rampant news about shootings sent such fear in me that I had several horrible panic attacks. I thought I would get shot anywhere – there was news of someone being shot on the King County Metro Bus and then of course that massive attack in Orlando on the Pulse nightclub. I remember the Meet the Press footage of it, in which Chuck Todd referred to “all the dead people.”
In 2016, the estimated number of murders in the United States were 17,250. Back in 1995, the media was singing a much different tone. In the New York Times in 1995, writers boasted of success that “the number of homicides dropped to 23,730 last year from 25,470 in 1993.” Things were much worse in the 1990s, a time that we supposedly see as the most peaceful and prosperous America has ever been.
Not everything you hear or see in the media is wrong – but the American media has a deep talent in searching for things that will fit a narrative. From highlighting reports of black men shot by police to white girls killed by illegal immigrants, while other reports of violence that don’t fit so narrowly are left to local news, the media searches hard for stories that will reinforce core fear and anxiety among varying segments of society.