By Tom Burke / Herald columnist
I saw a piece in the paper blandly reporting that, “In today’s post-truth world…” then a bunch of words I really don’t remember, as I got stuck on the phrase, Post? Truth? World?
What the hell is the Post-Truth World?
Well, apparently, the Post-Truth World is a 5-year old parallel universe; a make-believe cloud-cuckoo land created by Republicans and MAGAs where nothing is true except what they want to believe is true. It’s their imaginary world of “alternative facts.”
And it has a scientific name — agnotology — or the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt where alternative facts replace actual facts; feelings have more weight than evidence; and where alternative facts compete on an equal footing with peer-reviewed research and formerly-authoritative sources.
It’s a world where every reputable doctor, scientist, public health official, and maybe even a talking horse (Mr. Ed, from the 1960’s TV show) tells us ivermectin does nothing, absolutely nothing, to “cure” covid-19 (and may, in fact, be dangerous to humans if the veterinary formulation is ingested), but people, such as right-wing radio talker Joe Rogan, admitted taking it anyway when he caught covid, after refusing to mask up or get the shot.
It’s the magical-mystery MAGA world of The Big Lie that says Donald Trump actually won the 2020 election; the place where climate change isn’t happening; vaccines don’t work; the Jan. 6 insurrection was just a bunch of regular tourists visiting the Capitol; covid would just “magically” disappear; California wildfires were started by Jews; mass shootings were staged; QAnon’s Democratic, blood-drinking pedophiles run the Deep State; Twitter’s Trump ban was an attack on the First Amendment; Robert E. Lee, the traitor who lost the Civil War for the South, would have won in Afghanistan; where China, not U.S. consumers, paid Trump’s tariffs; and the Capitol insurrectionists are political prisoners.
It’s a fantasy world where: the “big beautiful wall” works; hydroxychloroquine “cures” covid; 3,362 people died of covid vaccines; John Bolton was a leftist; the Potomac River is getting more polluted; the Texas power grid (that failed) failed because it was totally reliant on windmills; and Obama wasn’t a U.S. citizen.
But what if, what if “alternative facts” had existed earlier in history, instead of being a primarily 21st-century MAGA/Republican phenomenon?
Well, of course, the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened. The Nazis didn’t really kill about 19 million; Auschwitz, Bergen, and Belsen would have been resorts, catering to a Jewish clientele, like Grossingers did in New York’s Borsch-Belt Catskill mountains, not the death camps where innocents were gassed by the tens of thousands and then incinerated in the ovens. (Oh wait, there are a bunch of right-wing, fascist Holocaust-deniers who say just that!)
And evolution and the change in the characteristics of a species over several generations, via the process of natural selection, would simply be a figment of Charles Darwin’s imagination, not scientific fact that has occurred over the earth’s 4.543 billion years of existence. (Darn, but it isn’t a proven fact either! “Young Earth” creationists and fundamentalist Christians are certain the Earth is only 6,000 years old, say everything was created in seven literal days; and in places like Texas a third of adults believe man and dinosaurs co-existed like the Flintstones. (Gallup says 40 precent of U.S. adults ascribe to a strictly creationist view of human origins, believing that God created them in their present form within roughly the past 10,000 years. Is it any wonder 30 percent of the country rejects the science behind the covid vaccine?)
And buying into alternative facts would mean slavery, of course, wouldn’t have been the stain on the American history that it is; so California recall candidate Larry Elder’s musing that slave owners are owed reparations because their “property” had been taken would make a lot of sense in the Post-Truth World. As would the South’s devotion to “The Lost Cause” and the elevation of traitors such as Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, John Bell Hood, A.P. Hill, and Braxton Bragg to semi-hero status.
Hannah Arendt was a political philosopher who escaped Hitler’s Germany and settled in New York. In her writings, “Truth and Politics,” she argued that democratic society requires we agree on two things: first, there are such things as facts; second, we should strive to present those facts as best we understand them. In other words, we should try to tell the truth.
But in MAGA-world truth counts for nil. For MAGAs Belief equals Loyalty.
And you ain’t a loyal MAGA, Republican, Trumpist, TeaPartier, ProudBoy, 3%er, Oathkeeper, BoogalooBoy, StormFronter unless you believe the bullshit and reject facts, science and the principles of democracy; so truth be damned, the hell with elections unless the R’s win, and let’s all go to Washington on Sept. 18 to free the Jan. 6 political prisoners.
Who woulda thunk it?
Stay safe. Mask up. Get the shot.
Tom Burke’s email address is email@example.com.