Freedom from Reality?

Things fall apart —The center cannot hold

truthistruthEpistemology has always fascinated me. How do we know anything? I have blogged before about the distressing tug of war between verifiable truth and the anything-goes free-for-all in today’s United States of America. We know of the pressure to teach creationism in public schools along with Darwin’s theory of evolution. We know about the shrill voices denying the reality of global warming. Our president is a denier of global warming. But the anything-goes mania far exceeds even those disturbing trends.

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fakenewsPresident Trump has introduced a new concept: Fake News. We used to have a consensus of sorts no matter how viciously it was attacked, we knew what it was. Now, for the first time in many years, racism has become respectable. Denizens of the right-wing fever swamps are being taken seriously, not as the threat to sanity that they are but as a possible source of truth.

laroucheLyndon LaRouche is a lunatic whom I first encountered when Jello Biafra (of the punk rock band, The Dead Kennedys) ran for Mayor of San Francisco. At a candidates night, a representative of LaRouche spoke as one of the candidates. She told the audience that Episcopalians are behind the drug epidemic. “And by drugs, I mean marijuana!” She biafraformayorshouted. A bunch of us punk rockers were there to support Biafra. His campaign was rife with ironic absurdity. But these people were truly absurd with no sense of irony at all. The event took place in a very hoity toity neighborhood so there were lots of very proper WASPS present that night. The nut job pointed to them and said, “You know who you are.” I was shocked that an outfit this insane would actually be organized enough to have a web site. But here it is. Somehow, I am not surprised to learn that they support Trump. That figures.

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SamSam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited wrote the first scholarly book about narcissism. As a narcissist himself, he decried the lack of psychiatric literature on the subject and provided what had previously been lacking. Although not a psychiatrist himself, he was able to contribute enough sound information and theory to give him a well-earned respectful audience. Lately, he has thrown in his lot with Lyndon LaRouche. laroucheflyerEven a luneball like LaRouche is demanding and getting a place at the table. Vaknin’s lately has declared Obama a “malignant narcissist.” I don’t know which is more disturbing: that Vaknin has joined the ranks of the American Right or that he is throwing reality to the winds. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised to see Sam Vaknin siding with the right-wing since he is an Israeli who has never publicly spoken out against Zionism. All sorts of people have jumped aboard the Trump express. Marxists are declaring that everyone who isn’t of their brand of communist revolution is equally evil — a supporter of capitalism. Trump might even be a styx666little bit better if only because he is an outsider who will rock the boat. Styxshexenhammer666 of UTube has been an intelligent critic of Christianity. Who would expect someone so seemingly rational to start preaching Trump-esque talking points ad nauseum. I get how people can get so sick of the status quo and the establishment that they will welcome anything different.

wakefieldI, myself, have been a spirited critic of consensus. I have some views that are outside the big tent. For example, I am a skeptic of the gospel of vaccination. I support Dr. Andrew Wakefield. I have debated the pro-vaxxers and discovered, to my dismay, how intolerant and fanatical they can be. I was even attacked by someone with autism for being a hater. According to her, by opposing the MMR vaccine, I am saying it’s better to be dead than autistic. See, the revised consensus is that measles virus is deadly so not vaccinating a child with the MMR vaccine is condemning hir to death. So absurd. I was a kid before that vaccine was forrestmareadyinvented and I got measles. Guess what? I’m still alive. Forrest Maready of UTube is a tireless spokesman for anti-vax skepticism shows an episode of the Brady Bunch in which the kids had fun with measles. I was too sick to have fun with it. I had fun with chicken pox since I wasn’t too ill and my sister had it at the same time and we were both home from school together. Anyway, I have noticed that, aside from some natural living purists, most anti-vaxxers are right-wing politicos. Liberals are almost exclusively pro-vax. Dr. Wakefield was chased from his native England and is now practicing in Texas. I guess it’s good for me to deal with the cognitive dissonance in acknowledging that the right sometimes really is the voice of freedom.

Another issue on which I am at odds from the Left is transsexualism. I certainly have transkidsno problem with people living the way they choose and changing their own bodies (at their own expense), I refuse to drink the cool-aide that insists that people can really change their genders. In this, the feminist movement is an ally. They don’t believe men can become women and won’t accept them as such. My reason is just about what is real. The extent to which people are forced to use the pronoun a tranny insists on strikes me as a form of gaslighting.

antisemOh course, we Americans have always celebrated our right to free thought and free speech. But freedom from government coercion isn’t the same thing as freedom from people just dismissing your opinion as ridiculous. For centuries, some things were just known to be, not only wrong, but toxic. It took a long hard struggle to relegate the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the garbage dump of history. It’s alarming to see it resurrected along with holocaust denial. As the Holocaust museum antisemispokesmen say, “The denial or distortion of history is an assault on truth and understanding.” Amen. It is true that Israel has been using the Holocaust as a weapon against anti-zionists, calling criticism of Israel a form of covert antisemitism. That claim is bogus. It is easy to separate opposition to Israel’s national policies and hatred of Jews (who are not all Zionists or supporters of Israel). Israel’s political propagandizing does not make antisemitism OK.

blacklivesThere is a trend for raising objections to what people call political correctness. The concept grew out of leftist consciousness raising groups who struggled with determining what is the truth. They ironed out a party line (or movement line) after much hard work in separating truth from falsehood. Of course, nobody should be forced to accept a line. Everyone needs to work out hir own opinion. But opposing an idea just because it is politically correct is just as dogmatic as forced acceptance of that idea. Trashing a group like Black Lives Matter whose only purpose is to oppose the murder of black people by cops egregiously as being politically correct isn’t so much an expression of free-speech or free-thought. It is a move to narrow such areas of freedom.whenfascismcomes

It’s no secret that our country is lurching towards Fascism. Students of history have a valuable opportunity to see how this happens. A poster I have seen says, “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Now that it is closer, we can add that it will also come as an assault on truth.


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