Monday, December 5, 2016

2 + 2 = 5.

In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?

--- George Orwell, 1984

A man went into a Washington pizza place with a gun intending to "self-investigate" the restaurant based on a conspiracy theory peddled by the alt-right that the Clintons, Anthony Weiner, and several unnnamed Congresspeople were using the restaurant as a front for a child prostitution ring. Thankfully nobody was hurt, although one report I've seen claims that at least one shot was fired before the man surrendered to police.

Normally this would only be national news for a day. The original rumor that the Clintons and their inner circle engage in child sex slavery is one of a multitude of outlandish and obviously false stories made up by the Alt-Right to discredit the Clinton presidential campaign.

On Oct. 30, a white supremacy Twitter account that presents itself as belonging to a Jewish lawyer in New York tweeted that the NYPD was looking into evidence that emails from Anthony Weiner’s laptop contained evidence of Clinton involvement in an “international child enslavement ring.” ... no law enforcement agency has said anything about these crazy claims. There is no evidence to back them up. The claims have been concocted and are being spread to misinform people.
 Sadly, this is business as usual. 

What isn't business as usual- and what must NEVER be treated as business as usual- is this:

 On Nov. 3, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, then a Trump campaign adviser and now Trump’s choice to be his national security adviser, shared a tweet linking to the True Pundit story along with the comment, “U decide - NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes w Children, etc...MUST READ!”

And this:

On Sunday, Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., tweeted, “Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it'll remain a story. The left seems to forget #PodestaEmails and the many ‘coincidences’ tied to it.”
The younger Flynn, who has served as his father’s adviser, linked to the account of Jack Posobiec, whose Twitter account describes him as the special projects director of a group called Citizens4Trump.
Posobiec said Welch’s actions were a “false flag,” and claimed he was an actor carrying out an elaborate conspiracy to discredit sites that spread the fabricated #PizzaGate accusations.
“Planted Comet Pizza Gunman will be used to push for censorship of independent news sources that are not corporate owned,” he tweeted.
For weeks, Comet Ping Pong has been the victim of false news stories about Clinton trafficking children in the local D.C. restaurant's back rooms. The stories appeared on Facebook, in addition to such dubious outlets as The New Nationalist and Alex Jones' Infowars.
Since then, a hashtag, #PizzaGate, has been used to defame the restaurant. The owner and employees of the pizzeria have also been victims of harassment. Scurrilous and defamatory posts continue to appear on Twitter on a daily basis even as D.C. police have said the restaurant is not under investigation.
Not only is the Alt-Right moving into power in Washington as an integral part of the Trump administration, but it's bringing its callous, shameless disregard for objective facts with it. They're even coming out and openly saying that there's no longer any such thing as facts:

What matters now, Hughes argued, is not whether his fraud claim is true. No, what matters is who believes it.

“Mr. Trump’s tweet, amongst a certain crowd, a large — a large part of the population, are truth. When he says that millions of people illegally voted, he has some — in his — amongst him and his supporters, and people believe they have facts to back that up. Those that do not like Mr. Trump, they say that those are lies, and there’s no facts to back it up.”

It’s a fact that she said this: I heard it live, as did Rehm, Politico’s Glenn Thrush, and the Atlantic’s James Fallows, who wrote about it, citing a recording of the show.

. . .

“You guys took everything that Donald Trump said so literally,” said Lewandowski, who was another ill-advised CNN hire. “The American people didn’t. They understood it. They understood that sometimes — when you have a conversation with people, whether it’s around the dinner table or at a bar — you’re going to say things, and sometimes you don’t have all the facts to back it up.”

. . .

There was more from the Harvard event. When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway about the same election-fraud claim discussed above — specifically, whether disseminating misinformation was “presidential” — it was clear that she and Hughes got the same memo.

“He’s the president-elect, so that’s presidential behavior,” Conway said, using mind-bending pseudo-logic, reminiscent of the Nixonian “When the president does it, that means that it’s not illegal.”
We have an administration which, from the top down, believes it can and should lie blatantly to the voters. From Trump right on down, they have decided that not only will they say and do anything to get what they want, no matter who it hurts, but also believes that this is the way things ought to be done.

Twenty years ago conservatives were screaming about a national identification law proposed under the Clinton administration, and then again under the Bush administration. "Mark of the beast!" they shouted. "1984! 1984!"

Ten years ago conservatives were screaming about traffic cameras, cameras in public places, and police surveillance. "Big Brother!" they shouted. "Big Brother! 1984! 1984!"

The problem is, Americans remember George Orwell's book for its universal police state and forget its fundamental lessons. The IngSoc regime was terrifying not because it could see what you were doing at all times. It was terrifying because the entire IngSoc regime, from beginning to end, was bent on molding human brains like clay into the desired shape- and them smashing it flat.

Why? Because they could. No other reason.

1984 was Hitler's Big Lie, Stalin's official history, and every dictatorship's propaganda machine turned up to its ultimate limit. By erasing the line between lie and truth, IngSoc made it possible to create their own reality and force its subjects to conform to it- which, as it turned out, wasn't very hard at all.

The alt-right, founded as it was in white supremacy groups, knows this full well. They've been using the big lie for generations to convince their followers of the coming race war, of the innate inferiority of all non-white races, of the truth that whites in America are the most persecuted minority group. Lie, lie, lie.

But it took the likes of Roger Ailes, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, etc. to fill in the gap that the old white-supremacist movement missed. It's not enough to tell a lie loud enough, often enough. You must also discredit all other sources of information that don't agree with your own. Your lie must be on a level playing field with the truth to win out.

It doesn't help that the modern mass media, with its total misunderstanding of what "showing all sides of the issue" actually means in practice, played right along. The lie was almost never questioned or challenged, because that would be seen as "taking sides in a political debate." The effect was so strong that even Barack Obama, in his first year of office, referred to the use of torture by the Bush administration as "a policy difference" rather than what it was- a heinous and unacceptable war crime.

Thus the forces of evil in this nation took advantage of the First Amendment, using its protection to spread lies and deceive the people and, gradually, to make themselves look respectable and knowledgable.

Result? Today trust of the consensus media, the media that seeks out fact and tries to present it without obvious political bias, is at all-time lows. Media that lies blatantly and cheerfully to stir up fear and hate and advance its own agenda, particularly at the right, grows stronger every day.

And now the kind of men who run that latter kind of media- Steve Bannon being foremost among them- are moving into the White House, where they will have the kind of "dark power" they want.

One more Orwell quote:
“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
And at a pizza shop in the District of Columbia, we've had our first concrete indication of how the Trump administration intends to use that power.

Be very, very afraid.

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