What sort of future looms for a nation whose government and social fabric is woven out of lies, hatred, distrust, distortion, bullying and mass hysteria?
The very fact that these fuel the national engine militates against any hope of massive public awakening, much less significant movement for reform.
Such is the state of these United States. Our elected leader proposes to deal with these things incrementally, working within the sadly broken framework, through pragmatism and compromise. This serves only to further empower and embolden the dark forces manufacturing the lies and profiting from public delusion.
In these United States, it does no good to have exposed the lies, to have been right all along. The damage is done, the last act of the farce is history, the curtain has been drawn on the next, and the next, and the next.
We must make war, we were told, because a bad man has weapons of mass destruction and our national security is at risk. "Not true," some shouted, and were spat upon, and we went to war. We are still at war. It is as senseless, as unjustifiable, as much based on lies and deceit now as it was then. No matter. It's a fact of life now. Let the blood flow and the debt accrue; the lies worked. The truth didn't matter.
We must not enact the laws necessary to assure decent health care for all Americans, we were told, because it would create death panels to kill grandma, government control of our lives and health, and bankrupt the nation. A few saw these arguments for what they were -- utter, fear-mongering nonsense -- but they carried the day. The truth didn't matter.
Mistreatment of captives is as old as tribal humanity, as old as conquest, as old as the Inquisition, and as new as Guantanamo, secret rendition, Abu Ghraib and this week's horrifying presidential authorization of the assassination of an American citizen. A few remind us of these terrible truths and are scorned. "We do not torture," our government assures us, but the fact is that we do and most of the public condones it, along with the killing of unarmed civilians, even women and children. The truth doesn't matter.
A former President rebukes us: "When a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the president of the United States as an animal or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or when they wave signs in the air that said we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kinds of things are beyond the bounds." Kill the messenger!, the apostles of hate shriek from their richly-endowed thrones of mass communication. And the millions titter, and applaud, and the signs and derogations become more racist, more hostile, more outrageous. The truth doesn't matter.
Anything that rises from the very bottom of such a society to attempt to empower the powerless has to be crushed by the rich and powerful; that's what keeps the system working. A clumsily edited tape purporting to expose criminality on the part of such an organization, known by the acronym ACORN, succeeded in killing it. Now that the governor and attorney general of California have revealed the entire, unedited tape, exposing the lies and deceptions underlying it, nobody cares. That act is over. The truth doesn't matter.
Carefully edited and filtered versions of purloined e-mails circulated among scientists engaged in the ongoing study of the planetary climate roared out of the lie machine and created what its handmaidens in media dubbed "climategate." Voices of serious science sought to expose the deceit but went largely unheard. Efforts to curb the human activity that is altering the envelope of life around the planet have been blunted. In England, where the theft occurred, a parliamentary commission has vindicated both climate science and the climate scientists -- but nobody cares. That act is over; the lies succeeded. The truth doesn't matter.
The Supreme Court has endowed corporations and their spin-offs with personhood and free speech. All of our subsequent elections will be controlled by the United States Chamber of Commerce and a handful of enormously profitable corporations. Already the Chamber has amassed a war chest of more than $150 million for lobbying, influence buying and creation of a new lie machine to control the outcome of the next elections in 22 states. The truth doesn't matter.
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all internet traffic flowing over their networks. It is not a coincidence that the ruling came just as the FCC was attempting to make broadband more accessible and affordable for rural communities and other under-served populations. Now, if Comcast doesn't like what I write, it can refuse to allow this blog to move over its broadband. Truth doesn't matter.
A new Wisconsin law requires schools to teach students age appropriate and medically accurate information on birth control, the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, signs of abuse and how the use of alcohol can affect decision-making. Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth issued a letter to the five school districts within his jurisdiction threatening to bring criminal charges against any teacher who complies with this new state law. He said it promotes the sexual assault of minors and that he will file charges against teachers who comply with the law. Sentences on conviction would range from nine months in jail to six years of prison time. If the law doesn't matter, truth doesn't matter.
Rupert Murdoch, who owns a global lie factory of immense wealth, reach and power, insists that his sewers spew only facts; it's everyone else who's biased. Truth doesn't matter.
We are a people indifferent to the suffering of our fellow citizens, hateful of otherness, fearful of myths and driven to frenzy by falsehoods. And we call ourselves "free."
Truth doesn't matter.