Thursday, December 29, 2016

End Times

My latest newspaper column. It'll appear Saturday, but why wait? 
Our democracy had a nice run, didn’t it? However, when one political party values truth, public education, press freedom, equal rights, economic fairness, and unencumbered elections while the other sees them as obstacles and it’s taken full control, survival is improbable. 
We knew it was coming when Fox “news” appeared, calling itself “fair and balanced” while off-gassing disinformation and context-altered video. Simultaneously, right-wing attacks increased on so-called mainstream media; i.e., any that didn’t parrot the party line. There’s now a hardened core of voters who reject any evidence, no matter how solid, which refutes their preferred disbeliefs. To them, climate change is a hoax, Hillary is crooked and Donald isn’t, Putin is our pal, trickle down economics works. They deny Trump lies, or they’re okay with it; can’t tell the difference or don’t care. How many believe he won “one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history”? Amazingly (or not), fifty-two percent of Republicans think he also won the popular vote. 
“The big lie” was beanbag. This is nuclear war on reality. If most politicians lie sometimes, in Trumpland it’s foundational, and it’ll continue until followers demand better. Forever, in other words. 
Inculcated ignorance is America’s weapon of mass self-destruction: deliberate falsehoods repeated enough to enough credulous people to take hold, no matter how absurd. If you’ll believe Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of a pizza joint, believe it enough to bust into the place locked and loaded, you’ll believe anything. And it’s not just that guy. It’s Trump’s choice for national security advisor and his ex-transition team son, who said of pizzagate, “Until proven false it’ll remain a story.” It’s Trump’s go-to source for the latest lunatic conspiracy, Alex Jones ; it’s his senior policy advisor, Steve Bannon, straight from the internet’s second most deranged website, right after Jones’. 
Nor is this the fringe of today’s Republican Party. It’s their Speaker of the House, who claims Trump’s lies should be ignored, and their vice-president-elect, who considers them “refreshing.” Taking it to its ineluctable conclusion, a member of Trump’s staff recently said, “There’s no such thing as facts anymore.” Another announced that what’s important is not whether something is true, it’s whether enough people BELIEVE it’s true. Knowing full well the power of this proposition, they’re doing everything necessary to unbuild the wall between truth and fiction. As effective as it’s already been, it’ll be catastrophic when the disseminators have all the power. If you’re not worried, you’re assimilated. 
So this is how it ends: when the people in charge see truth as inimical to their intentions, their leader producing lie upon lie amidst ominous threats of retribution against media and all who criticize, including Congressional Republicans. Some out of fear, as several Congressfolk have admitted, others out of gullibility, a critical mass of Americans is joining in or staying silent. Inducing silence by creating fear of reprisal has always preceded the march to tyranny. We’ve embarked on the road. 
Not satisfied that his Goebbellian attacks on critical media will keep his flock adequately narcotized, after the CIA confirmed Russian hacking, Trump went after the intelligence community, too. Because if there remain any credible sources of information that runs contrary to his perpetual prevarication they must be swept away. Attention diverted, Trumpophiles are eager to be swept along. If truth is dispensable to one political party, it most certainly is not to democracy. History tells what follows. George Orwell, it turns out, was a documentarian. 
If you believe, for a few examples, Trump’s conflicts of interest don’t matter, millions voted illegally, Sharia law can be imposed here, homosexuality is a choice, the press is our enemy, we can ignore climate change, there’s a war on Christmas, the CIA is wrong, Trump will “drain the swamp,” he has a secret ISIS plan, his Russia connections aren’t worrisome, “the president can’t lie if he doesn’t know the truth,” you’ve been cozened by a carefully constructed con. For the next four years, we’ll have a president more likely to be lying than truthful, while too many members of a once-respectable political party, hating “liberals” more than they love democracy, blind to the consequences, thinking (until it’s too late) they’re winners, won’t care. 
Happy New Year, though. 
[Image source]


Dr Strangelove said...

One of your best, this is a fitting end to one damn disappointing year.

"If you’re not worried, you’re assimilated."

There it is. If I were the Herald Opinion headline writer that would be it.

Smoothtooperate said...

If we are gonna get screwed, we should at least vote for someone who is for using plan B the next day.

Here's my thing...

Curbing propaganda is not against the 1st amendment. You can't say "bomb" on a plane or "fire" in a theater. But you can incite violence based on a giant pile of steamy stupid and ignorance as fuel. You can even threaten to kill Obama on TV. Ted "Ten Fingers of Doom" Nugent got a big fat "Shut up or else we jail and fine your life away." from the men in black. That shut him up real quick.

"Uncle Ted is a coward and surrendered his right to free speech to a corrupt, illegitimate POTUS." on the next Hannity."

Like that would ever air on "F... the 'news'" unless it had doctored video and a BS narrative.

The answer is don't let Tokyo Rose or Goebbels rent space with your media outlet everyday. But ratings is money, so Drumpf gets more TV time than all others combined. He's like Jones and FOX. The one person who holds the truth. The only media you can trust. So 1/2 of America gets their propaganda from a finite number of places. The other 1/2 gets their news from everywhere. Thus ratings are tough to get for these news outlets who are not 'alt right'.

This is why study after study shows that the red team voters are as gullible as can be.

Sidney Schwab said...

Did you click on the "assimilated" link, Doc?

Dr Strangelove said...

I had not but just did.

Perfect! Or nearly so. The Borg had a queen but I don't think that the current collective has a queen, king, or emperor. On casual reflection every putative leader is revealed to be just a front man or woman, or in Trump's case, a tool. There's at least another collective behind the larger collective. Maybe it's a mess of Russian dolls (you used that once I believe) not all of which fit cleanly together. One thing is for sure: they all share responsibility for the crime being perpetrated on us and the U.S.

Sidney Schwab said...

You could click the Alex Jones link, too. No one clicks my links. Sometimes they're the best part.

Dr Strangelove said...

I will do that. In fact, except for today which has been very busy, I always click on every one of your links.

The last few column postings are displayed in a small font size that's difficult to read. Is that something you can change?

Sidney Schwab said...

Yeah, don't know what's going on there. I'm trying to fix it.

Sidney Schwab said...

Can't figure out what's going on with that "So this is how it ends" paragraph. I've checked, rewritten the HTML every damn way. Oh well. Probably Russia is behind it.

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