Remember when the truth was important? In a previous post (11/8/17), I bemoaned the fact that the country has been sliding into a collective delusional state, where there is a “new normal” and alternative facts can turn everything upside-down. The truth becomes fluid (or is simply dismissed as inconsequential, as Sarah Huckabee Sanders has done); anything becomes possible; and history can be rewritten before it has even happened. I had hoped that the Sanity Clause in our social contract would set things straight, but that appears increasingly to be a big pie in the sky.
Michelle Goldberg writes in her Opinion column today, “There is a debate over whether Trump is unaware of reality or merely indifferent to it. He might be delusional, or he might simply be asserting the power to blithely override truth, which is the ultimate privilege of a despot.” Hmm– delusional or overriding truth: which is worse?
Arguing for the former, Dr. Bandy Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at Yale Medical School, represents thousands of mental health professionals when he writes: “We are currently witnessing more than his usual state of instability– in fact a pattern of decompensation: increasing loss of touch with reality, marked signs of volatility and unpredictable behavior, and an attraction to violence as a means of coping. These characteristics place our country and the world at extreme risk of danger.”
Timothy Egan, in the NY Times, points out that our Chaos President still questions Barrack Obama’s birth certificate; does not believe his own words on the infamous “Access Hollywood” sexual assault videotape; still thinks (without any evidence) that three million fraudulent votes caused him to lose the popular vote; endorsed a website that says the Pope uses magic to mastermind world events; and “gave a thumbs up to a media outlet that claims NASA runs a child labor colony on Mars.”
No kidding. For those unfamiliar with Alex Jones’s Infowars channel, he’s the apoplectic guy who claims that the Sandy Hook massacre of schoolchildren and teachers was a staged hoax. A guest on his show claimed that NASA has secretly kidnapped children and is keeping them as sex slaves on Mars, forcing a NASA spokesperson to deny the existence of such a colony. It’s just incredible, the kind of insanity that passes for conspiracy theory (already a very low bar)!
Here’s some Fake News from my sci-fi novel Fourth World:
“When had Tharsis One and Two dropped off the map? Shortly after the Great War of Unification. Mr. Otis Walker, Benn’s second-grade teacher, had explained it many times- often in heatedly emotional terms- to his young, impressionable students. From the Martian (that is, Tharsis) viewpoint, the centralization of Earth’s government in 2096 marked the beginning of the end: birth of the Pan-World Electorate. What was it like, his teacher wondered, receiving the news that your home government no longer existed; that your country had been all but destroyed in a cataclysmic global war? That NASA, an agency of the former United States of America and your lifeline to Earth, had suddenly vanished?”
What, no NASA? It must have been brutal, hearing that there would no longer be any kidnapped sex slaves…