Attractive Lies

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Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Yet again I saw the familiar questions, the familiar attempts to analyze how one person can insist that an utterly twisted or fabricated version of events, history, motives, statistics, and more, are true in the face of concrete evidence pointing to the contrary, and how so many people can buy into those lies.

The point is that fallacies, no matter how specious, if delivered often enough, with absolute authority, are almost impossible to counter.

***

Years ago, during a discussion, a friend asked me to explain how some scientific process worked. I didn’t know the answer, but launched into a detailed imagining of the reason. When I finished, my friend said, “Oh. Okay, thanks.”

I burst into laughter. “I can’t believe you bought that.”

My friend was confused, “Why wouldn’t I? You said it with such authority.”

And I confessed that I’d made up every word, because I hadn’t the slightest idea what the answer to his question was.

Mean of me, I know.

But it proved that the right salesman can make some people believe anything.

***

In the past weeks, as lies have been heaped on lies, with little success in exposing them, and the deceitful machinations of the person spreading them, I’ve thought a lot about the dangerous allure of untruths that are attractive, and seemingly plausible—those that affirm people’s suspicions and fears, or merely substantiate notions that entitle them to act unethically, or merely comfort them. And, repeatedly, the scene in the link below keeps coming to mind, because, better than anything else I’ve heard or seen, it demonstrates how difficult it is to convince a person that their arguments and beliefs have no basis in fact, and how frustrating and infuriating it is to even try.

Absurd logic.

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What?

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When I was living in New York, I had a friend who worked at night, and had to take the subway to her job. Naturally, her friends and family were concerned about her safety. One day, over coffee, she told a few of us she had never been bothered. We were surprised. We had all had unpleasant experiences of one kind or another on our commutes—men who groped us during rush hour crowding; men who followed us to or from our destinations; men who sat next to us in nearly empty subway cars. We all carried small cans of hair spray or deodorant in pockets where we could reach them quickly. Some of us carried pocket knives. Most of us wore whistles around our necks.  We wanted to know her secret.

“Well,” she said, “as soon as I get on the train, I start talking to myself, as incoherently and erratically as possible. And I also make guttural noises and hisses. No one wants to mess with a person like that. They’re too unpredictable.”

***

Like so many women, I was horrified by this week’s events—the attacks on sexual assault victims, brazen assertion of white male privilege, glaring hypocrisy, distortion of history, outright lies, and overwhelming corruption of process by the ruling party culminating in an abrupt judicial confirmation.

I was horrified and sickened and outraged by it all, and even more so today when the ruling party’s shills took to the media to gloat over their success and condemn the victims and protesters who amassed in the Capitol before the confirmation.

I’m not arguing against protests. I’m wholly in favor of them. It’s important for those in power to see our faces, hear our voices, witness our dissatisfaction. But it’s also important to realize that in the face of the kind of recalcitrant evil embodied by 45, his administration, and the representatives who place party above all, our protests will be ignored, and, worse, reshaped for mass consumption as the true evil.

I spent time this morning on social media reading posts and tweets which were alternately eloquent and purposeful, and ugly and self-defeating; and I wondered, in all that cacophony, what message will be heard?

I applaud the chorus of voices rising through the nation, and count mine as one of them, but I worry about how predictable our voices are, and how unsuccessful they’ve been at countering the single malignant voice used by those in power.

It feels as if they are counting on us to be so furious about everything that we are in constant disarray. It not only gives them more fodder for their campaign of lies, it puts us on the defensive.

What do you think would happen if, for the immediate future, we answered their constant lies and taunts on social media with silence, and quietly focused on supporting our candidates? Getting young and old registered, and to the polls?

Perhaps it’s time to behave unpredictably. Mess with their heads. Make them wonder what we’re up to….

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Descent

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Pexels Photo by Danne

I promised myself I wasn’t going to get political again.

I’ve lived long enough to remember the Cold War, bomb drills, race riots, Vietnam, assassinations, and Watergate. They were terrible times, often seeming as if they would go on forever. Yet they didn’t. Even if it was only in small measures, reason and decency prevailed.This feels different, though. This feels familiar in the most malignant way.

It amazes me that some reasonably intelligent people are still rationalizing systematic bigotry and imprisonment, and refusing to apply the patterns of history to current events. I keep wishing they would consider those immigrant detention centers, those that are run by the government and its branches, and those that are in various stages of development, which will be run by private corporations, with a sharper, more critical eye, and ask themselves…

How long they think it will take before an insufficient number of field workers, caused by mass deportation and detention, leads to detainees being used as slave labor? And if that happens, how long it will be before those enslaved detainees are micro-chipped, so that they can be tracked? As the federal deficit grows, and cost considerations become a priority, how long before nourishment and medical care at those detention centers are withheld, before crowding and inadequate toilet facilities set up a perfect environment in which pestilence and disease can run rampant?

What do they suppose the administration’s response will be to that, in view of their frank loathing of certain groups? And in centers run by private corporations where the only interest is profit? Will CEOs look for ways to recoup their expenditures by striking deals with pharmaceutical companies eager for submissive test subjects?

If they think that’s an exaggeration, that it will never happen, I hope they would at least remember Puerto Rico, where, at last count, close to 5,000 people have died from causes related to last year’s hurricanes after help and supplies were cut off.

There are many paths to genocide.

Too many.

And with the Supreme Court’s 6/26 ruling on the travel ban, we’ve gone miles on one of them.

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