Washington couldn’t tell a lie; we can’t recognize them
I’ve often wondered what era we’re in, that my life is lived in. When studying history in school and later on my own, I learned about the Classical era, the Bronze Age, the Middle Ages. The Age of Enlightenment, the Renaissance, the the Industrial Revolution. The Dark Ages, the Biblical era, the Victorian period, the Edwardian period, the Gilded Age, the Great Depression, the 50s, the Vietnam era, the Edo period in Japan, the Age of Sail, the Colonial Period, the Belle Epoque, and God alone knows how many more. Recently we’ve had the Modern period, then the Post-modern, and then…what.
Well, I think I’ve figured it out; we’re in the Post-Truth period.
I can’t put a hard start on this war. Like any other, it has its beginnings a while before. In the West, I would point to both the Communists and the Nazis, experts at modifying reality to suit their political purposes. Stalin of course was famous for erasing people not only from the world, but from history, even to having them eliminated from photos and portraiture. The Nazis attempted to erase an entire people from the Earth, but then that’s hardly new; there are accounts of that going back to biblical times.
Certainly this tendency had been going on my entire life, from the complete quantum mechanical probabilistic fog of information surrounding JFK’s assassination the very year I was born, to the mass fog of confusion of the Vietnam war, to Watergate and the absurd tap-dancing Nixon’s press secretary Ron Ziegler did during those ridiculous press conferences.
The real insanity was touched off—as was so much of the post-fact world we’re seeing today—during the Reagan Administration. An administration filled with criminal acts and reversals of long-standing oversight that put us onto the road leading to our current disastrous administration but which I believe was completely encapsulated by that befuddled man himself who, when asked about the arms-for-hostages deal, accepted blame but insisted he didn’t remember doing it.
Though Reagan and the Republicans bear the lion’s share of the blame, it was the George W. Bush Administration that really weaponized outright lying. And it was the spineless ness of the Congressional Democrats for allowing it then that has allowed it to run rampant under Trump. You pull up the weeds when they’re small. If you let them grow for 16 years as the Democrats have done, it is far, far too late.
Now we can’t even agree on basic facts, like the fact that Trump, who has broken multiple laws and Constitutional restrictions, is a criminal. Or that the Earth’s temperature, which is rising, is actually rising. Basic, indisputable facts are no longer being accepted by huge chunks of the population. We really are very close to the place Goebbles bragged about, where a Trump admin official can claim black is white, and his followers will believe it. Or in Trump’s own words, he could shoot a person on Fifth Avenue and not be charged for murder.
In my opinion, we can even put an exact date on when we entered this era: When Merriam-Webster decided that the definition of the word “literally” could include “figuratively”. Which in English basically is like saying black can also mean white. At that point, the fight was over and the concept of truth had lost.
So we have gone from Modern, to Post-modern, to Post-truth. God help us all.