The War on Reality

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an active, longtime member in a politics forum that draws a mixture of liberals and conservatives. The community has moved with its parent forum to different hosts, and then spun off as a stand-alone forum after TFG was elected. It was a lively place which died because of staff indifference to updating the software, a glitch that meant no one could sign up for 4 years, and the wholesale retreat of every right winger over the summer of 2020 as the signs of TFG’s impending loss because visible.

The community has migrated back to a space on the parent board, which means that there is a fresh crop of right wingers to contend with. I have to say that there is one constant with these people, and that is that they are irretrievably stupid. If I had to compare their sheer stupidity to a natural phenomenon, it would be a black hole. Nothing intelligent comes out of them, and to get to close to them is to have all of the intelligence sucked out of you.

Still, it’s fun to toy with them because they say some unintentionally hilarious things. Plus if you get them mad enough, they end up getting suspended because instead of going for a simple insult like “stupid”, they have to go straight for sexual slurs and gendered insults. Some of the slightly smarter ones stick to sexist language which keeps them off the suspension list until one of the women mods comes across their posts and then they get a vacation. (Also imagine me earnestly responding to them and warning them that they are going to get suspended if they keep it up and their doubling down in response to my very good advice. Believe me, I have earned the title of Cassandra.)

So I’ve been reading today about the debt ceiling impasse and so of course I started a discussion about it. A flurry of wingers began responding to me, and when I brought the discussion down to the most basic level—what is the debt ceiling?—none of them could answer the question. None of them. But they could tell me that no politician cares about any of us and that they have plenty of money and if the US fails to raise the debt limit, all of those politicians would be fine.

This is the level of political discourse in this country—a chunk of Americans don’t think they need to spend any time at all learning about current events, but instead spend that time repeating stuff that isn’t true and which, because of its underlying nihilism, further decreases their desire to educate themselves about current events. So they ask less and less from journalists, and journalists tailor their work to this bunch of lazy nihilists.

If your audience will believe anything because they’re incapable of critical thought and disinclined to fact check their prejudices, then why spend time trying to educate them? Why not entertain them while feeding them a false narrative that they will happily internalize? For example if you’re The View, you invite Alyssa Farah, one of the biggest propagandists on the Trump administration’s paywall, on to sell her lies. And boom! an insurrectionist enabler goes mainstream.

The other propagandist who got a bunch of air time last week was Stephanie Grisham, who openly admitted that she just lied to all of us whenever she felt like it, and that she carefully managed TFG’s press appearances in order to maximize his propaganda push. All of this is being sold to us totally normal.

It’s not. The 1/6 insurrection is still ongoing. Those of us who are still able to think for ourselves have to double our efforts to make sure that truth is promoted and that lies are marginalized. Hillary Clinton addressed this this week:

I hope she’s right.

Aimee Mann gets the last word: