A Sign of the Times
The incident has resulted in outcry from various members of the community, and criticism of university leadership, which is reviewing its policy on freedom of speech. Athletic director Barry Alvarez announced that stadium policies will change before the next home game, but he hasn't specified what those changes might be.
It's a sign of the times. Who would have guessed that a president with African heritage would cause so much hatred and animosity? I have written before about the illusion of skin color, and it bears repeating. No one is "black" or "white," and no one has black or white skin. Those of us with entirely European genetic background have variations of off-white, peach, ecru or ivory. Here's a list of variations.
Since I don't believe there is such a thing as race, I don't jump at the opportunity to call people racists. To believe in "racism," as it is understood, is to believe that people operate on the basis of intellectual positions, and that some of them have an ideological, or system of intellectual concepts that affirm the belief that one nonexistent "race" is superior to another, presumed inferior, though equally nonexistent "race."
What I see in the picture of the guy in the Obama-in-a-noose costume is someone with a psychological pathology. It can safely be assumed that he is a bigot, believing in racial superiority, but bigotry is a psychological condition, intellectual only as cover for mental disease. We have been hearing a lot in recent months about the narcissism of Donald Trump, but he is only the latest and most blatant example of pathological self-obsession. It could be that the "American" form of mass industrial fragmentation and marginalization produces narcissists as a survival response.
We have seen in recent years entire television and radio networks dedicated to what is known as Sophistry - the deliberate use of fallacious reasoning, intellectual charlatanism and moral unscrupulousness. Heavy on ego, bluster, fakery and scapegoating, these networks promote the paranoid rantings of "right-wing" demagogues. It should be no surprise that there are wanna-be self-promoters among the masses.
Again, as I have written before, these propagandists aim for the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain. For those among us who are tribally-oriented, aggressive, territorial and prone to ritual masculinity, the amygdala is easily aroused. It has been concluded by neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean that they haven't evolved past the reptilian brain. MacLean referred to species-specific instinctual behaviors such as aggression and tribalism as rooted in the basal ganglia at the root of the forebrain, what he called the R-complex or reptilian brain.
Rather than have an "ideological" divide in this country, we have a psychological divide. Another way of describing this divide is, as I also have mentioned previously, is through the hierarchy of needs that was authored by developmental psychologist Abraham Maslow. The lower, or deficiency needs of power, money, sex and safety are where supposed "right-wingers" are self-confined. The reptilian brain-dominated "right-wing" contingent is one not so much of belief as psychopathology.
If this is our predicament, what do we do about it? How do we get out of it? Is it the inevitable result of mass industrial capitalism? Would socialism do any better?
Only time will tell. We haven't experienced the full effects of climate change yet. Our infinite-growth economic system hasn't reached its limit to growth yet. It will, and likely within the next ten years - or less. When these twin inevitabilities take place, all bets are off. The ego-aggrandizement of right-wingness won't mean much when your house floats away in a storm or burns up in a massive wildfire, and there are no jobs.
The end of growth will be disaster enough, but in concert with rampant effects of climate change there won't be much point in being a narcissistic, paranoid, amygdalian, reptilian bigot and xenophobe. Nothing lasts forever, including our current absurd and stupid predicament.
R.I.P. Tom Hayden.
Here's a song for Trump. Here's another. And this. This too. One more.
Update, November 8: The University of Wisconsin revoked the season football tickets of the fans who were involved in the Obama-in-a-noose costume.