NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

December 31, 2012

Before we bid 2012 farewell

What do the Mayan calendar and Mitt Romney have in common?

No, they did not both end this year.

That fabled, feared calendar only seemed to expire — for a reason so obvious that only the Internet echo chamber could hide it:

Dec. 21 was the winter solstice, a day when peoples around the world since the beginning of calendared time have stopped chopping the stone.

And started chopping another. So a stone starting at Dec. 22, 2012, will someday be unearthed in time to worry our descendants huddling in high-rise oceanfront shelters in Ohio and Utah.

Yes, I already hear the hackles of those who still insist global warming is a hoax — and those who say that arming teachers is the only “constitutional” way to keep children safe from psychos with multi-round automatic rifles.

A simple click of the mouse will deliver you into the echo chamber of their evidence. Then hit the remote to hear it all amplified on Fox News.

Thomas Frank recently noted this dynamic in “Pity the Billionaire,” an analysis of the extremist Tea Party takeover of the GOP since 2009.

Examples of distorted science and history fill the book, some of them hilarious, all of them fabricated by websites with American flag backdrops and names such as “Freedom Works” and “Americans for Prosperity.”

To research these subjects, you have a choice:

Either read the scientists and historians who dedicate years of their lives to their work — and offer lists of their own sources.

Or type a few words into a search engine that lists links with those words — beginning with websites gaining the most traffic that day or week.

For example, historians — much like grandparents — tell us that the New Deal brought us out of the Great Depression, put us back to work, made us prosper.

Conversely, numerous new, rabid websites, fueled and fanned by those who make no secret of wanting to privatize the New Deal’s every public commitment, tell us that FDR didn’t just fail but made the Depression worse.

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