What’s happening to truth in America? Let me tell you

The national conversation over impeachment is getting louder every day. The Mueller Report seems to have turned the volume all the way up to 11. The conservatives, of course, are against this, but so are some liberals. The liberal reason is a fear that an impeachment trial could rule the president not guilty, emboldening him to be even more destructive. Their point is proven by the president’s inevitable reaction to all problems, including the Barr summary: blame the democrats and the media, and promote his enemies list. He does this even when he thinks he’s winning.

The liberal alternative to impeachment is to wait until 2020 and vote him out. The obvious problem with that solution could be explained to you by any and all of the 3,000,000 Hilary voters whose voices were silenced by the electoral college. But even if we sorted out the problems with the electoral college and somehow managed to actually vote him out, all the evidence suggests that he would be quite unwilling to go. Should he be forced, the violence that would follow is at the very least predictable.

So, if impeachment isn’t the answer and voting him out isn’t the answer, what is?

Unfortunately, not all problems have solutions, but don’t worry. It’s so much worse than you think because we’re not even looking at the actual problem.

The problem is that the Mueller report is about seeking the truth, but our cultural understanding of truth has shifted, especially around politics.

Political lies used to work very simply: politicians lie to their constituents in order to gain their votes, then the constituents who believe the lies would vote for those politicians. It still mostly works that way, but the president is changing that. His reasons for lying aren’t necessarily to get votes, as he probably never intended to win the presidency. The stunning frequency with which he lies suggest that he’s flatly incapable of anything else.

The shift is that his supporters don’t actually believe his lies. They know he’s lying, but they enjoy it. They enjoy it because they don’t see his lies as attempts to deceive them. Instead they see his lies as weapons he’s wielding for them, directed at their perceived enemies.

They’re just psyched to be owning the libs. Unfortunately, schadenfreude as a political platform will only destroy your society.

Truth only exists to the individual; everything else is consensus. The perceived weaponization of lies not only destroys the perception of truth, but the ability and desire to form consensus as well. Without those things society devolves and cruelty reigns. Power stays in the hands of worst and weakest among us. What should be a shared reality becomes a distorted and didactic performance. Things that are objectively normal become wrong and things that are objectively wrong become normal.

It’s easy to believe in American exceptionalism. It’s easy to think that that none of that could happen here, but ask yourself what if it could? What if your reality just came apart? What if something so seemingly undeniable as science could become fantasy with the sole purpose of defining you as inferior? What if you could be refused employment not because of a lack of education, experience or ability, but because of something as non sequitur as the hair that grows naturally from your body? What if simply pronouncing in public that your life matters could result in extensive government surveillance? What if things like this went on for so long that it became socially acceptable for the police to routinely and publicly execute people who they think look like you?

What if this had actually been happening all along, but just not to you?

What would you do?

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Good faith isn’t always enough to close the gap

My father had a saying: “You wanna talk to somebody, you gotta meet them where they are… But some muthafuckas are just too far away.”

This saying applies to a lot of situations, but he would use it most often when it came to talking to white people about race.

Talking to white people about race is a hard thing to do. The main reason is that it’s not always clear just how far away some muthafuckas are. It can be difficult to tell if a white person is speaking in good or bad faith. If you discover they are speaking in bad faith, then they’re too far away and it seems easy to just not engage…

But it’s not necessarily that easy. There could be other white people involved who don’t recognize the bad faith and question you as to why you’ve ceased engagement. Suddenly you’re in a debate about the intentions of a person with bad faith while that person remains unaccountable and all the other white people just think you’re overly sensitive or paranoid.

But even if you can manage to successfully navigate all of that, stay away from those with bad faith and end up communicating with a white person who is speaking in good faith, there is still no guarantee you will be able to get them to understand.

It’s like the difference between the current president and Joe Biden. Obviously, the president is a man of bad faith. Joe Biden, on the other hand, has all the markings of a man of good faith. He always seems to have a kind word to say. He seems friendly and optimistic. Plus, he’s got that Black friend we all know about!

Unfortunately, there was that time he said of that Black friend, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Naturally, he later non-apologized saying, “And I really regret that some have taken totally out of context my use of the world ‘clean,’” as if that were the problem.

I know right now some of you are thinking So what? He said some bad stuff a long time ago, but he’s learned and he’s better. To you I say, first of all, if his current situation in being told not to touch people who don’t want to be touched is any sort of signifier—which I think it is—he hasn’t learned anything. He was publicly mocking the entire idea and then non-apologizing again just last Friday.

The problem isn’t that people just say some “bad stuff.” The problem is that if we accept that “bad stuff” from each other, then we also accept it from our leaders. In Biden’s case, some of that “bad stuff” he said in the 1970s was against integration and nearly 20 years later he was a leading proponent of mass incarceration. There’s a high cost to be paid for saying that “bad stuff” for such a long time, but Joe Biden doesn’t have to pay it. Countless Black men—or “predators,” as he called them—paid and will continue to pay.

Meanwhile, voters are just hoping Uncle Joe gets through this one OK. And I think that’s because we can all tell that he more or less operates in good faith. Unfortunately, good faith alone still leaves some muthafuckas too far away.

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The pollution in our soil: White supremacy

The president’s response to the tragedy in New Zealand… Well. He’s a eugenicist whose shriveled, quivering mouth has only ever dribbled out an endless ooze of hate, stupidity and lies when it comes to women, Black people, Islam and basically anyone who isn’t a rich, white man. He cut funding used to fight white supremacist violence despite the fact that it’s on the rise. He plotted and enacted a Muslim ban that is still in place. And he retweets racists and religious bigots so much that, if I didn’t know better, I might think that he’s delighted by the kind of violence that is so often done in his name. And, to be clear, I do not know better.

If you’ve been paying attention at all, I’m sure the president’s reaction was anything but surprising, but there was a reaction by a world leader that did surprise me. Jacinda Arden, New Zealand’s Prime Minister actually put forth a “global call” to fight racism. It probably says something about the lowering of my own expectations that I could be surprised by a world leader’s sincere, compassionate and all-encompassing response to a tragedy. I’m sure I’m not alone, but I was surprised.

That said, given how often white supremacist ideology has been used to destroy as much of the world as possible—Native American genocide, Civil War, WWII just off the top of my head—it sure would be nice if we were beyond simple condemnations in 2019.

While in this country we are used to leadership not being able to complete a sentence, Jacinda Arden did not just offer words. She somehow, in what seems to be a plainly impossible feat, instituted an assault weapon ban in New Zealand. And she did it less than a week after the massacre.

Here, in the United States there are no amounts of racist massacres that could get us to even think about thinking about having a discussion. What I see instead are a fair amount conversations about tech companies as they have been successful in past battles with extremists online. Non-white extremists, that is. It seems that they’re having a difficult time with white supremacists, somehow.

Obviously, this is because they’re not actually addressing the problem, which is, again, white supremacy. It’s a problem buried so deep in our soil that nothing can grow without its pollution. There are no exceptions, not even tech companies.

The polluted thoughts of this country have been inspiring madmen and mass destruction around the world long before our current president started goose-stepping through the White House. Fixing ourselves will go a long way toward fixing the world, but avoidance will only make things worse.

Gun control, while a positive for society and something the majority of the country is behind, will not stop white supremacist attacks from continuing. If the recent Florida Man incident didn’t tell you that, last year’s Austin bombings should.

And while, of course, tech companies should do everything they can to top the spread of diseased thought, they could turn off the internet, put a moratorium on phone carriers, shut down the United States Postal Service and force the carrier pigeon into extinction and we’d still be left with an idea that continues to prove itself the most destructive force in the world.

In the end, white supremacist systems fight to not stay as they are, but to go backward. They don’t want to disregard human rights so much as to take them away. Talking alone will not push us forward and our silence only acts as their permission.

Fighting is the only way. Find a way to fight.

If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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