Posts Tagged ‘Truth’

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“Who controls the past controls the future.”

March 7, 2017

Today, Dr. Ben Carson, the new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, jaw-droppingly said this:

“There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”

The reaction has been swift, incredulous, and mocking. Slaves weren’t immigrants, WAR & CONFLICT BOOK ERA:  CIVIL WAR/BACKGROUND:  SLAVERY & ABOLITIONISMpursuing the American Dream. They weren’t working “harder for less,” they were considered to be PROPERTY, they were allowed none of the opportunity, none of the freedom, that this country prides itself on. Slavery was not pursuit of the American Dream. Slavery was our original sin, the great stain on our national conscience, an abomination. How could anyone, much less a black neurosurgeon, say something so ridiculously wrong?!?

But while I get people’s dismay, I just do not get the shock. This isn’t Ben Carson being an idiot. This is Ben Carson repeating a Republican talking point that’s been gaining momentum for years. A couple of years ago, Texas approved textbooks that referred to slaves as immigrants. Last year, when Michelle Obama dared mention that the White House was built by slaves, Bill O’Reilly rushed to claim that those slaves were well-fed and well-housed; contemporary accounts say that that was absolutely not the case, but regardless, it’s the same toxic suggestion that slavery wasn’t that bad. That it was alright, if slaves were well cared for. The argument that somehow the realities of slavery – being bought and sold at auction, ripped from your children, beaten, raped, denied the right to learn, denied basic bodily autonomy, denied your own name, being forced to labor and denied any compensation – could be made okay, as long as we believe the slaves were housed and fed adequately.

I used to think it was guilt that drove some people to sugarcoat the horror of slavery, guilt and an unhealthy dose of “American Exceptionalism” taken to an extreme (if America did it, it can’t be that bad). But now I feel differently.

None of this is accidental. There’s diversion, there’s obfuscation, and there’s a constant, relentless attack on reality, on science, on history, and on our capacity for outrage. As Stephen Colbert once joked, “Truth has a well-known liberal bias” – which is exactly why the GOP is trying to destroy our understanding of what is true. None of this can be laughed off, because it builds over time, until all of the parameters have changed while we were standing still.

16996196_1288946147879217_1699203292099169521_nCarson didn’t misspeak, any more than Trump misspoke when he said “You think we’re so innocent?” Carson is taking this argument and making it mainstream, to make us more accepting of the unacceptable. The hyperwealthy would love openly legalized slavery. Already, all of us own things that were made by prison labor in our booming for-profit detention centers, by undocumented people who are exploited for next to nothing, or by slave labor around the world. An economy that only serves the wealthiest depends on slavery. The Trump administration, and the GOP controlled Congress, are only interested in making the rich richer, and to that end, they are interested in warping our past, so that we aren’t outraged when it becomes our present, and our future. If they can convince us that slaves were living the American Dream, they might convince us that children in ICE custody harvesting tomatoes are lucky, because they’re housed and fed. Constant Vigilance, my friends. Never laugh so hard at the idiocy that you don’t see it’s part of their agenda, that they are trying to rewrite our reality.

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Mitt Romney Bellyfeels Black-white Marketcare

September 10, 2012

Mitt Romney made news on Sunday, telling “Meet the Press” that, while he intends to repeal Obamacare, he will replace it with his own plan:

“Of course there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I’m going to put in place. One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they might like. I also want individuals to be able to buy insurance, health insurance, on their own as opposed to only being able to get it on a tax advantage basis through their company.”

via Huffington Post

Within hours, his campaign issued a “clarification,” denying that Romney meant he’d impose a federal mandate:

[T]here has been no change in the Republican nominee’s position. “[I]n a competitive environment, the marketplace will make available plans that include coverage for what there is demand for,” the aide said. “He was not proposing a federal mandate to require insurance plans to offer those particular features.”

We all know Romney won’t get Republican support for a mandate, and “the market” is exactly why insurers don’t cover pre-existing conditions – it would cost them too much money. What’s interesting, though, is how perfectly this highlights the Republican relationship with truth in this campaign. It’s not just that they lie – about everything, daily, in speeches, in ads, at the convention, and with no compunction – it’s that they don’t CARE what they are saying, as long as it gets them the votes and money they need.

The most well-known example of their disdain for the truth is one of Romney’s ads focussing on welfare, which baldly asserts, “Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check, and ‘welfare to work’ goes back to being plain old welfare.” It has been firmly established that this is untrue, that Obama’s changes instead assisted states in moving people OFF of welfare, and into work. The ad keeps running, though, and the Romney camp’s glib response  – “[W]e’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers” – makes it clear how little they care about the truth. Fact-checkers, they remarked, have “jumped the shark.” Republicans have been sowing the seeds for a “post-truth” campaign for a long time now. Their persistent attacks on global warming and the teaching of evolution are part of a greater pattern of reshaping political discourse so that inconvenient reality can’t intrude. Any rational arguments against their policies are labeled as “socialist,” or written off as “spin.” It’s sad, and horrifying, how many American voters now truly believe that science cannot establish facts, that statistics always lie, that facts are always tainted by bias and cannot be trusted. The GOP have created a environment dedicated to spin and falsehood, and have managed to convince their audience that everyone else is lying.

It’s almost perfect Orwellian Newspeak, redefining language so that words have no meaning. Romney intends to keep the parts of Obamacare that voters really want – by letting the market provide them! Now they just need to come up with the perfect meaningless doublethink word for this, something like “marketcare.” Their voters will eat it up. After all, six percent of Ohio voters believe Romney deserves more credit for Bin Laden’s capture than Obama does, and a full 31% are “not sure” which of the two men deserves more credit.  It makes sense. After all, under the Republican way of thinking, there’s no way we can ever know for certain which of the two men ordered the raid….