Life in Post-Truth America
Posted By Daniel Greenfield
Next month Americans will experience the fifteenth anniversary of the time that the President of the United States shook his finger at the country and informed it, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never.”
Bill Clinton was lying. But the lie was more significant than the thing that he was lying about.
When the lie came crashing down, Clinton and his defenders deconstructed the English language, questioning the meaning of every word in his sentence rather than admit that the lie was a lie.
Given a choice between telling the truth or challenging the definitions of such words as “sex” and “is”, they decided to burn their dictionary.
Clinton’s antics set the stage for a current administration which can never be caught in a lie because it’s lying all the time. Obama and his people don’t just lie, they lie about the lies and then they lie about those lies. Bringing them in to testify just clogs the filters with an extra layer of lies.
Invite Gruber to testify about the time that he admitted that the administration had been lying and the only thing that will happen is more lies being told by a man who is there only because he lied.
Like the old lady who explained her cosmology to Bertrand Russell as being “turtles all the way down”, with modern progressives it’s lies all the way down.
Lena Dunham served up a rape accusation against a conservative Republican named Barry only to hide behind the ambiguity of being an unreliable narrator. The unreliable narrator likewise takes the stage at the University of Virginia where a high profile case has dissolved into contradictory stories in which it becomes difficult to tell whether it was the reporter or her subject who was doing the lying.
The unreliable narrator has crossed over from a fictional device in novels to memoirs, journalism and into politics.
Journalists repeatedly dismissed ObamaCare scandals by arguing that no one could have taken Obama’s claims at face value anyway. When Obama promised Americans that they could keep their doctors, the housewife in Topeka, the freelance programmer in San Francisco and the geologist in Tulsa were supposed to be as knowing as the Washington press corps and realize that he didn’t mean it.
Like Lena Dunham, Obama was an unreliable narrator. No one was ever supposed to expect the truth from him.
The significance of Bill Clinton was not in his affairs, but in his cynicism. He got away with lying by dismissing the idea that anyone should have ever expected the truth from him. Obama expanded on his work by eliminating the base truth underneath the lies.
The device of the unreliable narrator puts truth out of reach. It says that there is no such thing as truth, only various perspectives on an event.
Lena Dunham doesn’t claim to be providing facts, only different versions of a story. The facts themselves cannot be retrieved because there are no facts. The man in question is no longer named Barry. Every descriptive detail about him might be equally false. The whole thing may never have happened, but it’s important to believe that it happened without ever expecting it to be true.
This is the Doublethink state of our progressive Oceania. We are expected to believe a lie while remembering that it’s a lie and therefore never really fooled us or caused anyone any harm.
We were supposed to believe Obama’s assurances about ObamaCare while knowing them not to be true. We are supposed to believe Lena Dunham and Jackie and Gruber while disbelieving them. “The essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty,” Orwell wrote.
The conscious deceptions of the modern Doublethinkers depend on them telling a lie in the service of the greater truth. That pursuit of a greater truth built out of lies is what motivated a Rolling Stone article about fraternity rapists that even Mike Nifong would have turned his nose up at or Gruber’s arrogant truths about lying. The greater truth gives them the firmness of purpose and the complete honesty.
Lena Dunham in BuzzFeed, the apologists for ObamaCare and the activist cheerleaders for Rolling Stone, insist that the facts are a technicality that is obstructing the greater truth. And the greater truth is a worldview that is out of the reach of facts and can never be disproven.
Bill Clinton and his allies deconstructed the English language rather than admit a lie. Their successors deconstruct reality. They deny that objective truth exists or even matters. They didn’t lie because there is no such thing as truth. There are perspectives, some of which agree with Bill Clinton’s version of reality or Lena Dunham’s version of reality.
And then there is Obama’s version of reality.
Obama is the nexus of Doublethink. He is the man whom reporters have denounced as the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation and whom they compulsively defend with every possible lie. Why do journalists protect and serve the man who threatened them, bugged and even tried to lock them up? They too have long ago become unreliable narrators of their own profession.
In the absence of facts, there can be no reality. There is only ideology.
Obama doesn’t simply lie. He exists in a truth-free zone. He doesn’t stumble with any construction as clumsy as Kerry’s “I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.” He does not start with truthful facts. His starting point is in an imaginary territory. It ends in an imaginary territory. If the two imaginary territories are different, it scarcely matters because neither place was ever real.
When he came into office Obama insisted that we had to pivot to fighting Al Qaeda in Afghanistan even though it was no longer in Afghanistan. He went on claiming victory over an enemy that didn’t exist while dismissing ISIS as a jayvee team even when it was capturing entire cities in Iraq.
These weren’t mere lies. This was a foreign policy being conducted in an imaginary territory. It was Wag the Dog being played out in real life. But then again what is real around Obama anyway?
Bill Clinton lied. Obama tells stories. None of these stories have anything to do with reality.
Lena Dunham’s biography is a peek into a disordered mind that is incapable of grasping the concept of truth. In her world there are no facts, only stories that elicit emotional reactions. Obama’s entire career rests on the same technique of telling stories for emotional effect without any regard for reality.
ObamaCare was an ugly collectivist bureaucratic dinosaur clothed in imaginary stories. The stories about it, about the economy, about the war are still being told. Added to it are new stories about racism. The stories are passionate, compelling and appealing. They are also completely unreal.
Progressives don’t only live in a post-American world; they live in a post-Truth world. A world without facts and without truth is one in which the America that was cannot exist.
America had prospered because of a firm belief in a discoverable and exploitable reality. That was the country that could build skyscrapers and fleets in a year. Post-Truth America has little interest in big buildings because it’s too busy enacting a psychodrama in which the earth is about to be destroyed. And fleets, like horses and bayonets and facts, are 19th century toys that are much less interesting than the manipulation of people through lies and deceit.
Lena Dunham’s Barry and Obama’s Barry are both imaginary creatures. They are the sophisticated products of disordered minds and a disordered civilization whose leading figures lie as instinctively and as shamelessly as any pre-rational culture that could not distinguish between lies and truth.
Opions Versus Facts
by Thomas Sowell
Everyone seems to have an opinion about the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri. But, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say, "You're entitled to your own opinion but you're not entitled to your own facts."
Soon after the shooting death of Michael Brown, this 285-pound young man was depicted as a "gentle giant." But, after a video was leaked, showing him bullying the owner of a store from which he had stolen some merchandise, Attorney General Eric Holder expressed displeasure that the video was leaked. In other words, to Holder the truth was offensive, but the lie it exposed was not.
Many people who claimed to have been eyewitnesses to the fatal shooting gave opposite accounts of what happened. Some even gave accounts that contradicted what they themselves had said earlier.
Fortunately, the grand jury did not have to rely on such statements, though some in the media seemed to. What the grand jury had, that the rest of us did not have until the grand jury's decision was announced, was a set of physical facts that told a story that was independent of what anybody said.
Three different medical forensic experts -- one representing Michael Brown's parents -- examined the physical facts. These facts included the autopsy results, Michael Brown's DNA on the door of the police car and on the policeman's gun, photographs of the bruised and swollen face of policeman Darren Wilson and the pattern of blood stains on the street where Brown was shot.
This physical evidence was hard to square with the loudly proclaimed assertions that Brown was shot in the back, or was shot with his hands up, while trying to surrender. But it was consistent with the policeman's testimony.
Moreover, the physical facts were consistent with what a number of black witnesses said under oath, despite expressing fears for their own safety for contradicting what those in the rampaging mobs were saying.
The riots, looting and setting things on fire that some in the media are treating as reactions to the grand jury's decision not to indict the policeman, actually began long before the grand jury had begun its investigation, much less announced any decision.
Why some people insist on believing whatever they want to believe is a question that is hard to answer. But a more important question is: What are the consequences to be expected from an orgy of anarchy that started in Ferguson, Missouri and has spread around the country?
The first victims of the mob rampages in Ferguson have been people who had nothing to do with Michael Brown or the police. These include people -- many of them black or members of other minorities -- who have seen the businesses they worked to build destroyed, perhaps never to be revived.
But these are only the first victims. If the history of other communities ravaged by riots in years past is any indication, there are blacks yet unborn who will be paying the price of these riots for years to come.
Sometimes it is a particular neighborhood that never recovers, and sometimes it is a whole city. Detroit is a classic example. It had the worst riot of the 1960s, with 43 deaths -- 33 of them black people. Businesses left Detroit, taking with them jobs and taxes that were very much needed to keep the city viable. Middle class people -- both black and white -- also fled.
Harlem was one of many ghettos across the country that have still not recovered from the riots of the 1960s. In later years, a niece of mine, who had grown up in the same Harlem tenement where I grew up years earlier, bitterly complained about how few stores and other businesses there were in the neighborhood.
There were plenty of stores in that same neighborhood when I was growing up, as well as a dentist, a pharmacist and an optician, all less than a block away. But that was before the neighborhood was swept by riots.
Who benefits from the Ferguson riots? The biggest beneficiaries are politicians and racial demagogues. In Detroit, Mayor Coleman Young was one of many political demagogues who were able to ensure their own reelection, using rhetoric and policies that drove away people who provided jobs and taxes, but who were likely to vote against him if they stayed. Such demagogues thrived as Detroit became a wasteland.
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