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CSotD: The Final, Most Essential Command

 

The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. — 1984

 

Yet, in the end, as illustrated in this Prickly City (AMS), Winston Smith accepts the Party line and gives in to the inevitable, the irresistible: “He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

I’ve argued many times that Animal Farm is a better metaphor for the times, because the pigs have to carefully frame their arguments and deceptions. Only the sheep accept the narrative unquestioningly, and, at the end, the animals outside remain puzzled that their revolutionary leaders appear indistinguishable from the tyrants they overthrew.

 

Pearls Before Swine (AMS) posits a middle ground, in which Rat knows he is being lied to, but happily goes along with the deception, neither pushing back like Winston Smith nor even being doubtful, like the animals.

 

I wish I felt we were all watching with such knowledge, even if some of us, like Rat, would take the comfortable way out and simply go with the flow.

But, while RJ Matson suggests that filtering out the lies has become more problematic since Elon Musk took over Twitter and brought truth to her knees, it’s not nearly so recent a phenomenon.

In a Fresh Air interview with Robert Draper, author of Weapons of Mass Delusion: When the Republican Party Lost Its Mind, he traced Marjorie Taylor Greene’s pattern of bizarre statements back to before she even ran for Congress, when she was an eager Q-Anon adherent explaining the Jewish Space Lasers and accepting false facts as absolute truth.

I remember when “false facts” was an oxymoron.

Those days, alas, are over.

We now have “alternative facts,” an Orwellian construct that drew laughter when Kellyanne Conway coined it in 2017, but “truth” isn’t relevant anymore, or, at least, as Conway would explain, it’s whatever you feel it ought to be.

Mind you, this comes from the side of the aisle where “feelings” are condemned as a sign of being “woke,” and being woke is the worst thing possible.

 

Still, as John Branch (KFS) indicates, the GOP can explain how facts are as flexible as they need to be, so long as they remain bent in the correct direction, “correct” being defined by how they fit the Party’s narrative.

 

For instance, despite Andy Marlette (Creators)’s suggestion to the contrary, crime is reportedly rampant only in Democratically controlled cities, never in places with Republican leadership. This doesn’t square with the listing of Top 100 US cities for violent crime, but it doesn’t have to because it isn’t meant to.

Example: The gubernatorial race in New York State seems to be centering on the crime rate in New York City, raising the question of why the governor, rather than the mayor, should be held responsible for this.

Correction: (See comments) This devolved into a discussion of poorly drafted charts instead of looming authoritarianism. The fact remains that it is a lie, not simply an error, to say that GOP-led cities are less crime-ridden than Democratic-led cities, or that Eastasia has not always been at war with Oceania. This section has been edited to eliminate the distraction.

 

Math only suggests alternative facts to disloyal people who accept alternatives to what the Party tells them is true. As Kirk Walters (KFS) has his character explain, it is disloyal to wait for an official report, or to be so unpatriotic as to to read the actual police report, which is as close to an “official narrative” as we’re likely to get for some time.

Certainly, it is disloyal to Big Brother for newspapers to quote the police report saying Paul Pelosi was attacked by someone who had been posting extremist MAGA views.

 

Mike Lester (AMS) explains plainly, declaring the police — and journalists who cite them — to be liars because their report does not square with Elon Musk’s story of who was wearing what, who knew who, how the window was broken and what happened.

But, heavens, let’s not roll the security video, because we know cameras lie just as much as police do.

Well, in this case. The police told the truth in the George Floyd case, despite what those lying videos on the scene showed.

Good patriotic Americans back the blue, when we’re not beating the shit out of them on the steps of the Capitol in our roles as gentle tourists.

 

Pennsylvanians might be puzzled, as Randy Bish suggests, to have a carpetbagger with a history of peddling snake oil telling them not to trust the guy who was born there and has a record of public service in state government, but that’s only because they haven’t been properly prepared to process the truth.

Perhaps if they consumed more green coffee beans, which, it’s been proven, pretty much cure whatever ails you.

Just take two in the morning and two at night, for a total of five.

 

Tom the Dancing Bug sums up the central issue: Our problem is not people who believe nonsense, but people who don’t believe anything, not in the sense of being skeptical but in the sense of letting life and reality wash over them with no impact, leaving not the slightest trace.

As the Spirit told Scrooge in the graveyard of the future, “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

 

Even worse — and more relevant to the moment — is the prospect painted by this couple in Jules et Jim, in which good sex is an acceptable exchange for intelligent conversation and thoughtful interplay.

 

But thought does matter. For years, as a working journalist, I would not belong to a political party and I took pride in having never voted a straight ticket. However, like the voter in this David Fitzsimmons cartoon, I’m finding the current choices leave little room for such nuance.

Big Brother is the only measure on the ballot, and I’m agin it.

 

Community Comments

#1 Wiley Miller
November/3/2022
@ 7:21 am

How did that quote from Daniel Patrick Moynihan about opinions and facts go again? Oh, wait…he was a Democrat so it must be wrong. Nevermind.

#2 Fred King
November/3/2022
@ 7:58 am

I think it was something about four legs good, two legs better.

#3 Robert Osterman
November/3/2022
@ 8:10 am

NYC is #67 on the *alphabetical* list.

#4 Mike Peterson
November/3/2022
@ 8:49 am

Robert — Ouch! Yes, #6 by crime, though still the mayor’s problem more than the governors. Will correct — thanks.

#5 Bob Harris
November/3/2022
@ 8:50 am

NYC is #95 if you order by the first “total” column, decreasing.

I’m not really sure what that column is the total of, though. It seems to be the sum of the two other “total” columns plus motor vehicle theft. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense given the way the headings are laid out.

Given that, it’s a leap of faith to have faith that whoever formatted this table for wikipedia correctly copied the data from their source(s).

#6 Mike Peterson
November/3/2022
@ 10:03 am

If you order it by crime rate, as seen in the correction, NYC is #6.

But, yes, you have to believe it was done right, just as you have to believe the police rather than the conspiracy theorists. Better make up your mind who you trust by Tuesday while you’re still being offered a choice.

#7 Judge Magney
November/3/2022
@ 10:53 am

New York City has the 6th lowest total crime rate, according to that table. Note that, in the ordering you cite, crime rates run from lowest to highest, top to bottom. That corresponds to the 95th highest, as stated by commenter Bob Harris.

#8 Tom Gillespie
November/3/2022
@ 11:11 am

Your description of Conway’s alternative facts being “whatever you feel it ought to be” is really just a re-wording of Stephen Colbert’s “Truthiness” from 2005.
https://www.cc.com/video/63ite2/the-colbert-report-the-word-truthiness

#9 Brian Fies
November/3/2022
@ 12:08 pm

Good Lord. What the hell is wrong with Mike Lester? Seriously, how does a human being get like that? There really is no bottom so low they won’t go.

#10 JP Trostle
November/3/2022
@ 1:49 pm

Here’ a timely Atlantic piece on crime, specifically how the murder rate in Memphis is setting records even as the police department there gets record amounts of money to ‘fight crime.’

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/11/memphis-violence-reduction-murder-crime-rate-policing/671877/

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