"We have our first new age President. For years, spiritual wannabes have talked about creating their own reality. This guy actually does it."
-- Swami Beyondananda
In 2010, back when "alternative truth" and "fake news" were known by their proper name -- lies -- I wrote a blog post for OpEd News that got me in trouble with ... the left. I called it "Come On Baby, Fight My Liar" and I compared the lies conservatives tell each other, with those liberals tell themselves. It was back in the days when there actually was such a thing as a fact-checker that both sides at least tacitly paid attention to.
What I pointed out was how many of the viral emails sent out by my friends on the right in those days were simply "made up", and how many lies per square minute were told by Fox News. At the same time (you can read the whole article here), having just returned from a Spiritual Progressives conference and recognizing the unwillingness of so many there to face America's war machine that had the nicey-nicey face of Barack Obama pasted over it, I called out the progressives for their lack of courage in facing heartless darkness. I used the old story of the man on his hands and knees in a parking lot looking for something. A stranger asks him what he is looking for.
"I lost my car keys."
"You lost your car keys in the parking lot?"
"No, I lost them in the bushes over there."
"Why are you looking for them here?"
"Oh, because there's more light here."
And then I wrote:
Hence, we have mainstream progressives searching for the keys to change in a well-lit parking lot, instead of the dark and thorny shrubbery. They may find ways to temporarily feel better, but ultimately they will continue to hold the current dysfunction in place, while continuing to hold on to the "moral superiority" of believing in change, while not being willing to do what it really takes to have that change.
I concluded that right wing folks like being lied to, but the left prefers lying to itself.
That didn't sit well, and I got "fired" from my nonpaying position as a writer for a progressive magazine.
So ... déja voodoo, here we are again.
Only this time the jackboot is on the other foot. Instead of Obama's reassuring countenance, we have Donald Trump looking to use military force and the rule of "law" (i.e., legalized lawlessness) to impose his "reality" on the rest of us.
And ... the conversation of seven years ago is all the more pertinent today.
First, let's begin with "fake news" and "alternative facts." This is the tried-and-(un)true method the right has used since the Newt Gingrich days to "fire up their base" in the basest of ways: By feeding them information as "true" that will be automatically accepted as such because it conforms with what these people already believe.
Last month I attended a talk -- overfilled room, sold out -- by George Lakoff, the linguistics professor at Berkeley who has been talking to a wall (the Democratic Party "leadership") for at least twenty-five years about how people understand and make decisions through their feelings, and their subconscious minds -- not the logical rational information that the NPR crowd would like to imagine most people use. Lakoff reiterated what my colleague Bruce Lipton says, that 98% of our mental processes are subconscious. Consequently, it's these subconscious triggers that activate our decision-making process. And every one of those "alternative facts", and toxic memes used by the Trump campaign (and by the Republicans in general since the Gingrich era) has had one intention -- to emotionally charge the people who already tend to agree with them. Exaggerations? Lies? No problem. If it "feels" true, good enough.
Progressives -- and the mainstream news -- tend to be more sophisticated about lies.
(Homework Alert: By the way, have you watched that 12-part series from Oliver Stone, "The Untold History of the United States?" If not, I strongly suggest that you do. It's your homework in this course called "Regaining and Sustaining Rule of We the People", and is a prime tool in creating the great awakening required to overgrow our current shituation.)
Anyway, when we look back on all the perpetrations that occurred "behind our backs", it wasn't so much that publications like the New York Times printed "lies." Rather it's what the Times DIDN'T print that enabled the perpetrations to proceed unchecked, AND ... equally important ... to perpetuate the progressive illusion of America as a progressive, benevolent force in the world.
A really excellent analysis of how the mainstream media (and the neoliberal pseudo-left) managed to "gently" keep us in the dark is this long piece by Jon Rappoport.
While Rappoport seems bought into the Breitbart / Trump / Drudge camp, the article is worth reading. Here is a pertinent quote:
A decade ago, here is what a working reporter for a major paper told me: "We know what stories we can't cover. Nobody needs to prep us. Our editors know, too. Otherwise, they'd never get to be editors."
Rappoport's article -- and his audience -- point us both to how "the left got left and the right got right" in the 2016 election, and why we need to create an entirely new narrative, not from the left but from "deep center." The phenomenon of "alt right" news was born of the mistrust a growing percentage of the population had of both the mainstream media and the liberal establishment.
When I wrote my original "Fight My Liar" piece in 2010, I warned that the progressives needed to begin acknowledging the darker truths that had been intentionally covered over the by media and the liberal establishment. As a response, the publication I was writing for fired me for being a "conspiracy theorist." Meanwhile, over those same years, conservatives unafraid to look the heart of darkness in the face began doing their own research, thanks to Breitbart et al. Of course, that research given where it was coming from, was skewed in a particular way, and fit the impropaganda package the Steve Bannons of the world wanted to feed the populace.
What's important to note is this. Because progressives were too quick to dismiss real evidence of deep, dark misdeeds as "conspiracies", the "con's piracies" (our stolen commonwealth by both the neocons and neolibs) are now fully in the driver's seat.
Now at a time when the media's credibility is at an all-time low (so far -- it could go lower), they have little to lose. Instead of covering for the New York Times and CNN, we should encourage them not just to investigate Donald Trump, but to go deeper into the systematic corruption that led us to our current sorry state. Imagine ... the "media" graduating from serving up babblum to the fearful and misguided, and actually becoming the "press" the First Amendment talks about.
While it doesn't seem likely at this polarized and contentious moment, our only way out and our only way forward involves awakening citizens from ALL SIDES to say it's time for "we the people" to part the "irony curtain", the invisible wall of impropaganda that has kept the American people out of the loop for six decades.
This is the wall that must come down if we don't want that other one to go up.