A participant in the Dave Oshana project (P*) recently expressed a wish to hear points of view opposed to his own. I do not want to categorize human souls, but in the interests of brevity let’s say that P*’s circles pertain to the democratically-minded, Trump-appalled, liberal elect, who “proudly voted for Joe Biden.” P* entered into conversation with another DO-participant, J*, who is more affiliated with “the other side,” and who proudly voted for Trump, seeing him as a maverick outsider attempting to save the US Republic from encroaching socialism, globalism, and a monolithic media-complex.
For some time, P* has been suggesting a discussion group where people with opposing viewpoints can find common ground—a “corpus colosseum” where right and left sides of the sociopolitical hemisphere can connect and harmonize. I have been interested in facilitating such a space and now the time seems to be near at hand, even as the need for such a project rises exponentially.
A few days ago, I shared this article with P*, John, Dave, and my wife, The War on Disinformation Is a War on Dissent, by Ash Staub. From the article:
While it’s certainly an issue that experts and public officials are often wrong or simply lying to protect their agenda when they label reality as misinformation or disinformation, the more pressing problem is that these politically-motivated labels, particularly disinformation, are being used to justify censorship and repression. Tech platforms have routinely censored information deemed “misleading” regarding COVID-19 and the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, while scientific journals refused to publish papers arguing that COVID-19 originated in a lab. Similarly, censorship of election fraud claims are well-documented, with President Donald Trump, along with a host of other conservatives, being censored for “promoting disinformation.” An even more disturbing trend has arisen over the past few weeks: disinformation is now increasingly referred to as “dangerous” and is being associated with “domestic terrorism.”
What’s absurd is that many of those attempting to establish a link between disinformation and violence are themselves using disinformation to buttress their arguments, and are guilty of the very thing they are accusing Trump of doing: challenging an election without evidence. The claim that former President Trump willfully “incited violence” by alleging fraud and urging his supporters to take action is easily refuted by the actual transcript of his speech. Moreover, if challenging an election without evidence is equivalent to inciting violence, what would three years of Russiagate histrionics be considered? . . . But of course, hypocrisy is the point. The “disinformation” label is applied inconsistently in order to silence dissent and further the political interests of those in power. By linking disinformation to violence, censorship of certain narratives, and repression of those who espouse them can be justified under the guise of public safety.
One thing led to another, and P* wrote a blogpost about his feelings. After reading it, I felt that the gulf we were hoping to bridge seemed larger than I had anticipated and presented an equally daunting challenge. P*’s piece expressed a core belief in institutions that I found to be anathema. The same could be said of John, with his trust in Trump, the Republic, and the Constitution, but at least John is aware of walking on thin ice and doesn’t have the complacency of being backed by a self-elected consensus. P*’s request/challenge felt less open to me than he seemed to think it was—something I have found consistent with those who have the heft and muscle of a dominant ideology, mainstream media, and an official elect on their side.
Oddly, P* inferred something similar in his piece: The more people believe a thing, the less likely it is to be true.
P* believes that a rigged or stolen election is an extravagant claim that requires extravagant evidence. From my own perspective, the idea elections aren’t rigged is a naive luxury particular to a certain class demographic. (Cf. the CIA’s involvement in Mexican or Guatemalan elections, and consider that domestic manipulations are a lot more sophisticated and covert, not to mention decades older in 2021.) This latest case of election fraud seems to me only unique in being so bold-faced. In short, there is, from my scant exposure to this, so much evidence that the election was stolen that the only way to ignore it is to keep replaying the mainstream media’s mantra of trust usssssss until it becomes an internal and impenetrable checkpoint against all opposing facts.
Ergo, I felt it only fair to turn the lazy Susan back on P* and ask him to present his reasoning as to why all this evidence was not valid. At the same time, if I was fully honest, I could say I don’t know because I haven’t spent enough the time on it to be sure. My interest is how and why P*—or whoever, I am sure you know someone who fits the bill—would believe in the institutions of government, media, academia, and all the rest, on whom he bases his trusting view of history and politics, with all the historical evidence arguing against the wisdom of such blind trust.
I wrote as much to P*, and invited my other half to provide the evidence P* was asking for, in the hope of challenging his consensus-endorsed perspective. The bulk of this post is my wife’s research, admittedly cursory since it was thrown together in a single day. I am blogging it now because many of my readers are in the US and therefore, potentially if not actually, in the midst of a minefield of mis- and disinformation, ideological zealotry, increased polarization and policing of thy neighbor (schismogenesis), all of which seems to be inexorably leading, if not to civil war then to widespread scapegoating under the guise of unification. Was it ever thus? Sure, but never was the kindling quite so dry and brittle—the global media so far-reaching and inflammatory—as to suggest a coming inferno that none of us will be exempt from.
Over to Mrs. Kephas:
Point # 1: Weltanschauungskrieg
I think it’s really helpful if people have had an experience of being on the other side of a news story i.e., have direct knowledge of a newsworthy event not filtered through the MSM (P* brought up the problem of mediation, but didn’t point out the obvious corollary—unmediated reality).
Funnily enough I woke up thinking about this exact issue this morning. I was seeing very clearly how clever it was for those who wield power (TWWP) to put devices into our hands that we then use constantly to report to us on “reality.” It’s diabolically clever.
[JaHo: Most especially if the medium is the message and the tools we use end up shaping us into instruments of themselves. (“The things you own end up owning you.”) Those who design, build, market and distribute our tools build backdoor access (remote control) into them, and thereby in us, the end-users who covet, purchase, utilize and become dependent on and purveyors of the tools and their programs.]
But I’ve been lucky enough(?) to have had several experiences of being on the other side of “news,” so I’ve seen how even small stories routinely get misreported. Here’s one that is not small: Robert “Willy” Picton, the notorious Canadian serial killer who isn’t. Well, he is. But his brother was the brains and it was an organized crime operation involving many people and including Vancouver police officers who drove some of the murdered women to the pig farm. The parties at the Picton farm were huge—thousands of locals attended them over ten or so years. I’ve talked to a number of people here who attended them and who have opined that, from what they saw, Willy took the fall for the brother and the Hell’s Angels for their big money-making scheme.
Here is another—a close friend of mine was present in the courtroom when lawyers Jack Cram and Renate Auger were arrested. I arrived too late to witness the fracas myself, but I spoke with my friend moments after the courtroom was cleared. She was one of quite a large number of activists and protesters present who were still milling about excitedly inside and outside the building when I arrived.
Cram and Auger had been collecting evidence of a pedophile ring that was targeting Native children, that involved high level establishment folk around here. That report of what happened in that courtroom is fantastical, but substantially true. The investigation, and the investigators were brutally shut down and so it stands: Jack Cram was forced into psychiatric care and Renate Andres-Auger slipped out of the country and hid <— another of my friends was able to check that she was okay from time to time.
(Readers who are paying attention may notice some correlation between those two stories?)
So that’s one major news story that was massively reported—falsely—and another that was never reported in the mainstream press at all. Both indicate the presence of a twilight underworld for which there are thousands of witnesses and yet no public acknowledgement. Hence, cognitive dissonance-inducing, mutually exclusive versions of reality.
Point #2: The Scapegoat Mechanism
Which, I think we agree is about where we are at today, post the Trump presidency—schismogenesized by the hype on our screens 24/7 and on our way to catastrophe:
The second movement in mimetic theory is that of the scapegoat mechanism. As rivals become more and more fascinated with each other, friends and colleagues may be mimetically drawn into the conflict as rival coalitions form. What began as a personal battle may escalate into a Hobbesian battle of all against all, threatening the cohesion and peace of an entire community. …
All that’s required for the scapegoating solution to work is that his guilt is universally agreed upon and that when he is punished or expelled from the community, he will not be able to retaliate. The proof of his guilt is found in the peace that now returns to the community, obtained by virtue of the unanimity against him.
Mimetic theory allows us to see that the peace thus produced is violent, comes at the expense of a victim, and is built upon lies about the guilt of the victim and the innocence of the community.
Scapegoating also operates in individuals at the level of identity. We all construct identities over against someone or something else. I’m a woman, not a man. I’m a liberal not a conservative. I’m an atheist not a believer. And most problematically, I’m good not bad. When we need some other person or group to be bad so we can maintain our sense of ourselves as good by comparison, we have engaged in scapegoating. We are using others to solidify our identity the same way a community uses a scapegoat to solve its internal conflict.
[Rene] Girard points out that to have a scapegoat is not to know you have one. This blindness on the part of the participants with respect to what they are really doing – killing an innocent victim – is the one essential element required for the scapegoating mechanism to work. In other words, participants in the scapegoating mechanism hold an authentic belief in the guilt of the victim, a guilt seemingly demonstrated by the restoration of peace.
That’s a very brief precis of the scapegoat mechanism. You can see how that might fit with the cancelling of Trump, his expulsion from polite society and the current attempt to impeach him for a second time—even though he is no longer president and aught to be beyond the reach of such Constitutional actions?
But there is a problem. Not everyone is convinced of his guilt. In fact, about 75 million Americans may think that he is being lied about, betrayed, misrepresented and unjustly persecuted. Rather than stabilizing a fractious populous, that’s an ongoing, dis-unifying aggravation.
Point #3: Capitol Hill: The Reports Were Exaggerated
Now let me demonstrate something in answer to what P* wrote here:
Worst of all, we live inside bias bubbles whereby our beliefs are reinforced because we are exposed only to the information that reinforces it, and small amounts of counter information from the “other side” that inoculate us, and further hardens our belief bubbles. This situation has reared its ugly head in the US with the “election fraud” controversy, and the subsequent riot that ended the lives of five Americans. The corporate media censored and canceled the information offenders, and the alarm of “censorship” has been raised. But is this truly “censorship” in an Orwellian or anti-American sense? Or is it just good journalism and responsible stewardship of public forums? That would be a matter of opinion, but we’ll get to that. Let’s start with facts.
First, I want to assert that the inability to solve this conundrum amongst ourselves has resulted in five dead Americans. Hence, the seriousness of the issue.
I’ve encountered all this framing before—it may well have been broadcast on NPR every other day for the last 4 years, it’s so familiar—so I know that this isn’t P*’s original thinking on this, just “talking points” that he agrees with, thereby ironically demonstrating his point.
This meme of the “deadly insurrection” at the Capitol has become a bloody big stick to big-up what amounted to what was actually pretty mild riot—as compared to 570 violent BLM protests and that time Antifa set fire to the mayor of Portland’s apartment building with residents in it. Note the graffiti:
So here are the five people who died that day:
- Ashil Babbitt, (decorated senior security forces 12 year Air Force veteran) shot by an unnamed Capitol Hill police officer (see Point # 4)
- Benjamin Phillips 50, “died of a stroke,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer
- Kevin Greeson, 55, had a “history of high blood pressure and suffered a heart attack” according to his family
- Rosanne Boylan, 34, The chief medical examiner of Washington, D.C., said ‘Boyland’s cause and manner of death are “pending”’.
- Officer Brian Sicknick, not struck by a fire extinguisher, despite what you’ve heard—the ME reports no “blunt force trauma”.
Now look at this headline: Capitol riots: Names of people killed during Washington DC siege released
While Ashil Babbit, 35, was shot and killed during the riots, three others died from “medical emergencies” [i.e., Benjamin Phillips 50, Kevin Greeson, 55, Rosanne Boylan, 34.] Asked whether the three who died of medical emergencies were part of the storming of the capitol, Mr Contee said he couldn’t specify if the three were actively part of the riots or entered the building. There were a lot of people on the grounds of the Capitol yesterday and I guess the extent that we can say right now is that they were on the grounds of the Capitol when they experienced their medical emergencies,” Mr Contee said.
Notice how the headline contradicts what the article reports?
Here is CNN quietly reporting on the findings of the ME’s that contradict the narrative that they’ve been pushing for a month:
According to one law enforcement official, medical examiners did not find signs that the officer sustained any blunt force trauma, so investigators believe that early reports that he was fatally struck by a fire extinguisher are not true.[!!]
And here’s what his family says:
“He texted me last night and said, ‘I got pepper-sprayed twice,’ and he was in good shape,” said Ken Sicknick. “Apparently he collapsed in the Capitol and they resuscitated him using CPR.”
The site said that on Thursday, family members were told that the officer had a blood clot and suffered a stroke and was on a ventilator.
Point #4: Undercover Ops (Ashli Babbitt)
Because of the prevalence of veterans employed by private security companies, it’s just a good idea to look closely at Ashli Babbit’s background:
The Air Force on Thursday confirmed that Babbitt, who served under the name Ashli Elizabeth McEntee, was a security forces airman who achieved the rank of senior airman, or E-4, while on active duty. According to service records released by the Air Force Personnel Center, Babbitt served more than 12 years in different parts of the Air Force. . . . 12 years in the Air Force – 6 years of those as a “Capital Guardian” tasked with “civil disturbance missions” in DC: The New York Times reports she was assigned to a unit based near Washington [DC] that is known as the “Capital Guardians” as their primary missions was defending the city. In what the Air Force calls “civil disturbance missions,” security forces in the squadron regularly train with riot shields and clubs, the report explains. As per an Air Force spokeswoman, she was deployed twice more, to the United Arab Emirates in 2012 and 2014. (ref)
She served more than a decade […] Six of those years were spent in an Air National Guard unit whose mandate is to defend the Washington region and respond to civil unrest. Its nickname: the Capital Guardians. (ref)
The Air Force on Thursday confirmed that Babbitt, who served under the name Ashli Elizabeth McEntee, was a security forces airman who achieved the rank of senior airman, or E-4, while on active duty. According to service records released by the Air Force Personnel Center, Babbitt served more than 12 years in different parts of the Air Force. . . . AFPC said later on Thursday that Babbitt deployed overseas on multiple occasions, including to Afghanistan in 2005, Iraq in 2006, and the United Arab Emirates in 2012 and 2014. Babbitt’s awards include the Iraq Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. …
The Air National Guard said that when Babbitt separated, she was with the 113th Security Forces Squadron of the DC Air National Guard which is stationed at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. [<— that’s the “Capital Guardians”] (ref)
Hmmm . . . right?
From a parapolitical perspective, it is not unreasonable to consider the possibility of a number of covert groups running multiple operations that day: Provocateurs? Perhaps. Also, any number of people, including those on the job, tasked with a “civil disturbance mission” plus others – foreign, domestic, public, private intelligence entities, interested in getting into those Capitol Hill offices for a wee scrounge. In which case, the actual Trump-supporting protestors—the ones who were that—were just the idiots used for cover.
(BTW, the private security services marketplace is booming—31bn USD.)
There’s also the long game to consider and Biden’s ongoing crisis of legitimacy—didn’t it perfectly provide his team with just the right imagery and narrative to justify a multi-valent assault on his their political enemies and frame half of Americans as White Supremacists and dangerous domestic terrorists in need of deprogramming?
[JaHo: And in case anyone reading this believes Joe Biden is an OK guy, or at least “the lesser of two evils” that justifies proudly helping get him into office, legitimately or not, here’s the video of him publicly leching over a Chris Coon’s daughter that was doing the rounds several years ago.]
Point #5: Follow the $Mainstream Media$
The situation wasn’t good before the Capitol Hill riot either: look at what happened to Mark Crispin Miller, NYU Professor of Media Studies, who teaches a course on propaganda and is the author of Loser Take All: Election Fraud and The Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008. An obvious Progressive Leftist, Miller is now re-positioned by his University as a defender of white supremacy because he questioned the efficacy of wearing masks to stop the spread of covid!
But now the situation is downright hairy, see for example:
- Viral #TrumpsNewArmy Video Is Liberals At Their Craziest And Scariest
- General McChrystal compares MAGA rioters to Al-Qaeda
- AOC proposes funding to deprogram white supremacists
- Biden Taps a War on Terror Veteran to Stop White Supremacists
- Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), chair of the House Oversight Committee, has asked social media site Parler to release the names of their investors and creditors.
- Big thing: How to deprogram America’s extremists
- Tampa mayor says maskless Super Bowl partiers will be ‘identified’ and police will ‘handle’ situation
Here I want to insert just a quick comparison between Trump supporters and BLM activist:
As of June, 2020, 279 companies are on record supporting Black Lives Matter inc Bank of America(!), Pfizer, FoxTV and DoD contractor, Cisco.
As of January 12, 2021, something like 30 companies have gone on record with their intention to stop providing services to Trump and Trump supporters including JPMorgan Chase, Facebook, Twitter, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Visa, American Airlines, BP, and Coca Cola.
Hmmm . . .
[JaHo: Good to know the major corporations have got our backs!]
Pro-tip: Support from banks, multinational corporations and DOD contractors is a strong indication that BLM is an Establishment—rather than outsider, or dissident—movement.
Question: Does anyone really believe they can trust the media at this point—when 15 Billionaires Own All of Americas’ News Media?:
Some billionaires, like Rupert Murdoch and Michael Bloomberg are long-time media moguls who made their fortunes in the news business. Others, like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, bought publications as a side investment after building a substantial fortune in another industry. Billionaires own part or all of several of America’s influential national newspapers, including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, in addition to magazines, local papers and online publications.
[JaHo: And if no one believes they can trust the mainstream media, why are people still slavishly following it and regurgitating its narratives? Answer: because they are both hooked on and hooked into the media that delivers the message. We are sleeping human fetuses in matrix pods whose life force is powering the great AI attention harvest machinery. We are ideological carrier waves, human data streams (see this article) that can no more question the current that carries us through our mediated life-simulations than little fishies can question the existence of water. End rant.]
Point # 6: Lawfare
With that preamble out of the way, let’s get to the evidence of election fraud. Are you familiar with the term “lawfare”? It’s a way to retain power and win political and legal disputes through attrition. I saw it employed in Canada against Native Sovereigntists. There is an old law in the Canadian Constitution that is still on the books that says that Native land belongs to Natives unless there is a treaty or a sale. In BC, approximately 95% of the province is untreatied and unsold—that is a problem for all levels of government here, natch. The soveriegntists spent 20+ years trying to get courts in Canada to address this law—that would create a precedent which could be used to generally challenge any imposition of settler law on unceded lands.
That was a big problem. How the courts got around it (and get around it) is simply by refusing to address the law.
So a similar strategy is being employed with the election cases—of which there are many and some of which are very serious indeed. The media beats its drum—baseless, baseless, baseless! And the courts refuse to look at the cases. Rinse and repeat.
So is it possible that election fraud took place?
Let’s begin by bringing the thing out from under its shroud of “unthinkable” or “impossible” human activities—I mean American human activities, because it seems perfectly plausible to us in places like Cuba or Nigeria.
Let’s look at a couple of rather big cases with criminal convictions:
1. A judge, county clerk, and 5 other election officials convicted of 13 counts of election fraud for 2002, 2004, 2006 elections—mostly Democrats but also a Republican:
After a seven-week trial, a jury convicted Douglas C. Adams, Russell Cletus Maricle, William E. Stivers, Charles Wayne Jones, Freddy W. Thompson, William B. Morris, Stanley Bowling, and Debra L. Morris on every charge levied against them by the government. . . . Political candidates pooled money to buy votes and to pay “vote haulers” to deliver voters whose votes could be bought.1 In order to be paid, voters had to vote for a particular set of candidates, known as a “slate” or “ticket.” To ensure that these voters actually voted for the correct slate, co-conspiring election officers and poll workers reviewed voters’ ballots—a practice known in this case as “voting the voter.” Once the proper slate was confirmed, a token (such as a raffle ticket) or marking was given to the voters to confirm that they did in fact vote for the proper slate. Voters with the token or marking were then paid by members of the conspiracy in a location away from the polls. Conspirators retained lists of voters to avoid double payments and to keep track of whose votes could be bought in ensuing elections.
In addition to hiring vote haulers, defendants allegedly utilized other methods of buying votes. Absentee voting and voter-assistance forms helped minimize the difficulty of checking paid voters’ ballots. In the latter case, co-conspiring poll workers were permitted to be in the voting booth under the pretext that they were assisting voters; in reality, co-conspiring poll workers were confirming that voters chose the proper slates. When electronic voting machines were introduced to Clay County in the 2006 election, the conspiracy both stole and bought votes. To steal votes, conspirators, typically poll workers, purposefully misinformed voters that they did not need to click “cast ballot” on a screen that appeared after voters had selected candidates for whom they wished to vote. Co-conspiring poll workers would enter the voting booth after the voter exited and change the electronic ballot to reflect the slate before finally casting the ballot. (UNITED STATES v. ADAMS, July 17, 2013.)
2. Two [Ohio] election workers were convicted of rigging a recount of the 2004 presidential election to avoid a more thorough review.
… Jacqueline Maiden, elections coordinator of the Cuyahoga County Elections Board, and Kathleen Dreamer, a ballot manager — were each convicted of a felony count of negligent misconduct of an elections employee. They were also convicted of one misdemeanor count each of failure of elections employees to perform their duty. 2007.
3. Here is an arrest for “vote harvesting” for Biden 2020:
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced the arrest of Rachel Rodriguez for election fraud, illegal voting, unlawfully assisting people voting by mail, and unlawfully possessing an official ballot. Each charge constitutes a felony under the Texas Election Code. Rodriguez was exposed in a Project Veritas video last fall while she engaged in vote harvesting leading up to the 2020 election. The Election Fraud Division of the Office of the Attorney General reviewed dozens of hours of unedited, raw footage, which led to this arrest. In an uncharacteristic moment of honesty, Rodriguez acknowledged on video that what she was doing is illegal and that she could go to jail for it. If convicted, Rodriguez could face up to 20 years in prison. (Ref)
4. And here is a crowd-sourced public databaseof all sorts of election fraud documentation-including historical cases. It includes an analysis of the vote data from the PA public data which concludes:
191,725 mail-in ballots were touched by alterations, illegality, or anomalies according to data.PA.gov.
In Pennsylvania’s response to the Texas lawsuit, they did not address the mail-in ballot anomalies
And just in case anyone thinks this is over, here are more legal challenges to the election results coming up:
This is the difficulty of states like Texas and Arizona: Other states, like PA, changed their state and local laws to allow for mail-in voting and No-ID voting, contrary to the Constitution, i.e., Federal law. Federal elections are governed by Federal Law (makes sense?). Therefore if some states follow strict Federal law but other states don’t, the outcome of the Federal election is de-facto non-representative. De-facto.
This is a recipe for civil war.
Point# 7: A Policy of Destabilization?
There was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes, one that both curtailed the protests and coordinated the resistance from CEOs. Both surprises were the result of an informal alliance between left-wing activists and business titans. The pact was formalized in a terse, little-noticed joint statement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO published on Election Day. Both sides would come to see it as a sort of implicit bargain–inspired by the summer’s massive, sometimes destructive racial-justice protests–in which the forces of labor came together with the forces of capital to keep the peace and oppose Trump’s assault on democracy.
The handshake between business and labor was just one component of a vast, cross-partisan campaign to protect the election–an extraordinary shadow effort dedicated not to winning the vote but to ensuring it would be free and fair, credible and uncorrupted. For more than a year, a loosely organized coalition of operatives scrambled to shore up America’s institutions as they came under simultaneous attack from a remorseless pandemic and an autocratically inclined President. Though much of this activity took place on the left, it was separate from the Biden campaign and crossed ideological lines, with crucial contributions by nonpartisan and conservative actors. The scenario the shadow campaigners were desperate to stop was not a Trump victory. It was an election so calamitous that no result could be discerned at all, a failure of the central act of democratic self-governance that has been a hallmark of America since its founding.
Their work touched every aspect of the election. They got states to change voting systems and laws and helped secure hundreds of millions in public and private funding. They fended off voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited armies of poll workers and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time. They successfully pressured social media companies to take a harder line against disinformation and used data-driven strategies to fight viral smears. They executed national public-awareness campaigns that helped Americans understand how the vote count would unfold over days or weeks, preventing Trump’s conspiracy theories and false claims of victory from getting more traction.
If there were a genuine interest in assuaging tension, “They” i.e., the Democratic Establishment and its corporate stake-holders, would allow a couple of these cases through the courts, just for show and then they could launch a long, drawn out, Dept of Justice investigation that makes a lot of noise and signifies nothing, just like that Mueller Report on Russian interference of the 2016 election—see, now I’m belly-laughing! Har har!
But it would calm things down. A lot.
I’m just going to jump to the end now. It seems that Trump has provoked almost every US institution to de-legitimize itself. That is profoundly destabilizing. When things are uncertain, people behave irrationally and are going to be more actively looking for scapegoats. Finding and exiling or killing a scapegoat that everyone agrees is guilty may be stabilizing, but if there isn’t agreement, it is the opposite of stabilizing. It creates a martyr and a potential uprising.
So the question is, how do we come together?
A: With graciousness?
Parapolitics 101 for extra credits:
Outside the Bubble: Moving from Ideology to Truth
For me, the key passage in my wife’s response to P* was this one:
I’ve encountered all this framing before—it may well have been broadcast on NPR every other day for the last 4 years, it’s so familiar—so I know that this isn’t P*’s original thinking on this, just “talking points” that he agrees with, thereby ironically demonstrating his point.
P*’s response to my wife’s research seemed to consist mostly of what I jokingly call UFOs: unfounded opinions, secretly constructed in underground bunkers by shadowy agencies. In response I shared a formula I was working on back when we were planning a Socratic radio station in Hope. It went something like this:
- opinions aren’t arguments
- arguments aren’t evidence
- evidence isn’t fact
- facts aren’t truth
It occurred to me that we could add one to the start: ideology isn’t opinion
There’s a very long and arduous, and potentially disheartening, journey between coat-tailing a dominant ideology (one that disguises itself as opinions posing as arguments without evidence, and that ignore facts) and brandishing the sword of Truth, capital T. The ratio of opinion to evidence in my wife’s summary above vs P*’s perspective evidences the difference between research and recycled soundbytes from mainstream punditry. Listening to NPR and Conservative Talk to get “both sides” (as P* does) is like hoping to get justice by listening to a good cop and a bad cop. Bullshit is bullshit, regardless of ideological slant. If we want information, opinions founded in reality rather than ideology, we first have to leave the reservation.
This is a frightening prospect for all of us, especially (say) a white American guy with liberal progressive family and friends. Even starting to question the official version around Capitol Hill, the election, etc., could lead, in today’s climate of fear and zealotry, to getting involuntarily committed for intensive deprogramming as a potential white supremacist and/or domestic terrorist. This is no joke. The pressure being applied to conform to the dominant ideology, to uphold its opinions and parrot its non-arguments, and to keep signaling to the mob that you are not scapegoat material, is immense. And it is only growing.
I suspect this is the kind of bubble-suffocation that P*, among many others, is looking to break out of. If you are, or want to help someone who is, take baby steps. Keep quest(ion)ing; see if you can start to reformat what you think of as evidence, or what demands evidence. Question especially the assumption that more mainstream or institutionalized sources are more trustworthy, or that widely held opinions are more reliable, as compared to individual researchers who, while not without prejudice, at least are driven by a personal need to find the truth, rather than in service to larger interests.
Most of all, it pays keep in mind that the election controversy (or whatever it is that we are attempting to understand about our world) is just one pressing example of the mashup of truth and lies that’s our current mediated experience, and that it’s not really about getting to the bottom of any particular worm can, since there is no end to those worms. It is about restoring our capacity for sense-making, finding our footing in our bodies, in Nature and in the world, so that we can return to a more essential way of perceiving and navigating existence. It is about getting free from the burden of ideology and from being routinely abducted by shady UFOs in the darkest dead of night, and moving into the light of the truth that sets us free.
The crucial distinction (tacitly acknowledged in P*’s piece) is this: are we trying to sort truth from lies as a means to fortify our position in the world and establish consensus? (This is when we use a new nail to replace rather than drive out an old nail, and it always seems to require a scapegoat of one sort or another.) Or are we doing so as a means to sharpen our tool set and to gather courage for the essential movement outside consensus, beyond the world of the mediated matrix-mind, and into the unknown, where reality is?
Until then, any assignation of value (sinner-sainthood, good president vs. bad president) is besides the point or worse, like trying to build your house on a wobbly stepping stone. It is the first sign of premature conclusion, which just leads to more delusion. No ideology, opinion, argument, or body of evidence will save us. Truth is beyond even the hardest of facts, as much as it is beyond the loosest of lies. And goodness, paradoxically, exists in a realm beyond (all socialized, politicized, and languified concepts of) good and evil.