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The Curse of Flexible Truth and False Alternative Realities

Our grand-daughter, 21-month-old Della Maimon, observes the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

Innovative energy has generally been a strength of this country. The unexpectedly quick development of covid vaccines in the face of rampant political ineptitude showcases this admirable quality. But there’s innovation and in-NO-vation, as we’ve been compelled to learn in the past half decade. The latter results from a different virus, one infecting roughly seventy million Americans by causing brain malfunction. It is a persistent, demonic malady undermining the foundation of truth and replacing it with a twisted substitute that can be manipulated any way its victim chooses. This distortion of truth ignores requirements like evidence, logic, and other forms of verifiability. On the contrary, surrendering to delusional truth requires renunciation of intellectual discipline, if it ever really existed in this susceptible cohort.

The principle behind “flexible truth” is elegantly simple: for anything, no matter how bizarre, to qualify, it must be repeated ad nauseum. Say “I didn’t cheat on my taxes” or “I didn’t make those sexist comments about chicks—oops, I mean ‘women’ ” frequently enough and the seventy mil will embrace it. Simply put, repetition is a synonym for accuracy.

But wait! There’s a corollary that reinforces this article of faith. If actual truth refuses to be vanquished and becomes annoying, scornfully label it “fake news.” As the most blatant lies can be promoted as truth for the brain-deprived, so can truth be demoted by ridiculing it. Of course, a misfit blend of political liars and self-servers has always existed in the United States, but generally, we’ve managed to overcome their damage. However, the accession to the presidency by a mentally deficient and conniving ex-game show host has fractured our society as never before. It’s done so by giving the most selfish, reprehensible parts of our society, the truth-deniers, an idol to worship. No longer are they reluctant to reveal the wastelands in their crania. If their worshipped leader can spew venomous lies, they have a similar right.

Thankfully, the miscreant can no longer flaunt official power and the White House has been fumigated. Therefore, I should be more optimistic about our future, but the debacle masquerading as our two-party political system can’t be ignored. Vast numbers of Republican officeholders have sacrificed devotion to principle in order to continue currying favor from their adored one. These shameless bootlickers continue to question the validity of the past election and to parrot other pre-digested inanities. The toadies are petrified that any disagreement at all with the supreme leader would incur retribution. Mention courage to them and they require a translation.

These pols were complicit in the tragedy of January 6. Their leader ignited his tinder to encourage violent overthrow of official election results. In the aftermath, some scholars I respect wonder about the possibility sometime in the future of civil war. In the past, that idea would have been laughable. What about now? Don’t laugh or answer too quickly. How did we plummet from being the United States of America to becoming the United States of America? After 1865, periodic disagreements strained but didn’t sever unity. I’m not sure that resilience still exists.

The hotel impresario is one of a kind. He exploits the uniquely feral ability to constantly divide and agitate. He identifies insecurities, resentments, and prejudices. He emphasizes how unfair it is that thoughtful and productive citizens live generally better lives than their opposites. In short, earned fulfillment is an outrage, not something to be sought. Opportunity is a concept luring undesirables to this country.

The United States has suffered two horrendous afflictions simultaneously. This loathsome ex-president abetted the growth of both. Covid he exacerbated by downplaying its impact and by advocating cockamamie cures. His role in multiplying its devastating effects should never be forgotten. In addition, he never misses an opportunity to stoke embers of victimization. He harps on differences in race, religion, economic strata, and educational level.

As we’ve learned from his pre-presidential business dealings, he habitually cheated contractors working for him. That will certainly be revealed in legal cases pending against him. The fact that he’s cheated this country is so blatant it requires no formal legal proof. Another fact is equally evident. Millions of voters in this country were complicit in altering the status of the presidency from meritocracy to idiocracy. I’d like to think we’re chastened enough never again to be taken in by a self-serving poseur, but I’m more aware than ever that the price of liberty and other principles of democracy really is eternal vigilance.


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