The Matter of Facebook

| September 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

“MySpace.com,” was the title of a sermon I preached at Washington’s National Cathedral, America’s foremost Protestant pulpit.

MySpace was the social media rage. So much so that in 2005 Rupert Murdoch, the media baron, paid $580 million to buy it.

I chose my sermon title because I wanted to make the essential point that everyone is someone and we are all equal before one another; that there is within each of us the inherent need to have an identity beyond our name and driver’s license.

Obviously, I knew about MySpace, but I was not a user.

But as a social media “rage,” MySpace fell and Facebook rose to take its place, achieving such phenomenal success that today it has two billion users!

I do not recall exactly when I signed on to Facebook, but sign on I did, and while I was an infrequent user in the beginning, I am anything but today, as I average more than 100 postings a month – and one day recently OD on Facebook and posted seven.

People use Facebook for many different reasons, to post photos of family, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, travel, even photos of entrees they are about to consume (always a mystery, that).

But I use Facebook, first, to post links to important newspaper and magazine stories I’ve read. Second, of less importance, to cite articles and op-eds I’ve written, news of The City Club of San Diego, The Denver Forum, and the Fenway Park Writers Series with the Red Sox, plus my Baseball Notes, which appear five days a week.

I’ve been told I should have my own blog, but if I did, who would read it? I can’t afford a Web page designer, PR firm to promo it, or an advertising firm to push it, so Facebook has become my “blog.”

I’m good with that, knowing my Facebook friends are over 1,000, even if the number who actually read my postings is a fraction of the total.

I don’t read everything my Facebook friends post, and they have no obligation to read everything I post, but those who do, by virtue of the breath of my reading, will be better informed than they might otherwise be (that goes down as my bias).

That most of my postings concern Donald Trump should be obvious. What else is there left to post about? Trump has sucked the air out of the U.S., if not the world (an observation I’ve made several times, but unfortunately for all of us, its truth remains jarring).

On the Saturday on my seven postings, August 19, I posted links to articles from the German magazine, Der Spiegel, the British newspapers, The Guardian and Independent, and two from both The New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

The biggest hit on Trump came from Der Spiegel, the great German weekly, which headlined its story, “Sowing Seeds of Hate: The Unforgivable Disgrace of an American President,” followed by, “There “has never before been a U.S. president who trivialized the violence and racism of neo-Nazis. For many Republicans, Donald Trump has now gone too far. The populist leader has become more isolated than ever before – in the world and inside his own party.”

The article, written by Christopher Scheuermann, went on to say:

“At the end of a bloody weekend, after one woman had died and several other people had been injured, Christopher Cantwell sat down in a hotel room and said: ‘I’d say it was worth it.’ A neo-Nazi who rails against blacks, Jews and immigrants, Cantwell was one of the organizers behind the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville…

“Cantwell seemed euphoric as he showed a Vice News reporter, on camera, the weapons that he carried with him. An automatic rifle, two pistols in his belt and a third in an ankle holster, and a knife. Oh, and ‘I actually have another AK in that bag over there,” Cantwell says. ‘You lose track of your f…..g guns, huh?’

“Those who may still have doubts as to how fanatic, how potentially violent the right wing has become in the United States should take the time to watch the Vice News piece [a short but frightening documentary]. It shows white nationalists with torches on the eve of the demonstration: private militias in camouflage, apparently armed with automatic weapons, men waving swastika flags, anti-Semites, homophobes and fascists from across the country. They all swarmed into the liberal university town in rural Virginia…

“But what did U.S. President Donald Trump do? After the white nationalist rally reached its violent conclusion on Saturday, he said from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, that ‘many sides’ had been responsible for the escalation. According to Trump, it wasn’t just the Nazis, but also the counter demonstrators who had contributed to the violence. He placed right-wing radicals and their opponents on the same moral plain. What happened in Charlottesville was a catastrophe, but Trump quickly transformed it into a political scandal – into an unforgivable disgrace to the office he holds.”

England’s Independent headlined its story by quoting from Der Spiegel that Trump is an “American Psycho,” pointing to a poll by the Cologne-based TV station WDR, that German trust in the US as a global partner has plummeted since Mr. Trump came to power.

“It found that in November 2016, 59 percent of respondents said the US was a trustworthy partner for Germany, compared to 25 per cent who would say the same about Russia.

“Polling dated February 2017 found that trust in the US had dropped to 22 per cent. Trust in Russia also dropped, but only slightly, to 21 per cent.”

Of this story, I prefaced my Facebook posting by writing of “the incalculable damage being done to America abroad by Donald Trump.

I then added, “The ignorant don’t care because they’re ignorant and disconnected from the concerns many of us share; and maybe there’s an argument for that, avoiding the daily angst and trauma of the Trump presidency; that’s it true, “ignorance is bliss,” and by avoiding the reality around them, the uniformed achieve a certain calm denied the rest of us.

“That said, everyone who voted for Trump, owes the rest of us an apology.

My final posting was from the Los Angeles Times. The story was headlined, “Christian pastors are speaking out,” and told how Reverend Grey Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in conservative Orange County, speaking before more than 25,000 at the church’s Harvest Festival at Angel Stadium, said:

“For the followers of Jesus Christ, there is no place for racial bigotry or prejudice of any kind, I see people carrying these crosses and wearing swastikas and talking about white supremacy. There is no race that’s superior to another race. We’re all part of a human race.”

Clearly, Pastor Laurie knows the New Testament’s commandment found in Mark’s Gospel, chapter 12, verses 30-31:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

I too know Mark’s Gospel, but it appears, Donald Trump does not.
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George Mitrovich is a San Diego civic leader. He may be reached at gmitro35@gmail.com.

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