Jun 4, 2009

The Republican Ministry of Truth....

George Orwell in his novel, 1984, he described how the Ministry of Truth re-wrote history to fit the current message & policies of the regime. History was just a tool; it wasn't about knowing the past but controlling the future. Obviously a totalitarian regime wants to keep any inconvenient truth under wraps, but revision of history is a phenomenon that flourishes even in open societies where there's freedom of information. How is this possible, you may ask. Well, it's because if enough people choose what the like to hear instead what is, then fantasy is their reality.

Every culture is conservative by nature; tries to preserve the social & economic order, the identity of the group, the "true & tried" ways of the past. Public myths and ideologies support this body of "knowledge." You know that most people never re-examine their most dearly-held beliefs.

Think of a meme [a word coined by Richard Dawkins] that once it reaches a critical mass it becomes "real." Something repeated, adopted by a number of people and it becomes part of "common knowledge." Even if someone really wants to know, he's too busy to find the truth or he's not able to critically evaluate all sorts of claims. He turns to "authorities" and "professionals" for his news and for interpretations of various situations. But, what if the "experts" are lying?...

I generally don't have a problem with people's views. We have different priorities and weigh values differently. But, when such views are based on lies, fantasy, or any crazy idea, then I take issue. It's more infuriating when someone could indeed find out the truth without much effort but chooses not to. So, the Republican noise machine is becoming louder by the day. "Obama declares the US is a Muslim country," "He doesn't take about terrorism to the Muslims," "He'll take all of our guns away," "The Democrats are responsible for 9-11"...., etc.

Cheney says it was Richard Clarke who missed the 9-11 attacks. The whole gang doesn't recall making the connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein... Whatever. The point is that revising history to distort the facts is a bad thing. It's a disservice to our country. We have to know what happened and who did what. Hopefully we won't repeat the same mistakes any time soon; though it seems that every generation has made at least a big mistake...

The other important point is that those who peddle quackery should be relegated to the fringe, not be part of the mainstream conversation. Unfortunately, characters like Limbaugh, O'Liely, Hannity, Coulter, Beck, the whole Republican leadership have currency because many Americans listen to them. As long as many of the natives accept this voodoo magic and rainmen, we will continue to waste our time, energy and resources.

There's lot to be learned from discussion as long as those who come to the table have something meaningful to say. Fair & balanced doesn't mean that we have to keep debating ad nauseum whether the earth is flat!

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