Hello. It’s Jeff. I know, I don’t blog much lately. I’ve been busy. I have a job that’s actually fairly demanding and a 9-year-old kid and a life. Plus, I have to admit, given a choice between writing jeremiads or watching Doctor Who on Netflix, I’m choosing the Netflix. It’s less depressing. And when I need to vent, there’s always Twitter.
But still, there’s something that I feel I need to bring up. Something that’s been becoming more and more clear to me over the past couple years, since around the time of the health care reform debate.
But first, let me start by talking about the right. We all know the right. They’re completely delusional, right? Out of control, drunk on anger and incohate rage, fed by a steady diet of propaganda from Fox and Rush Limbaugh. Amirite?
Well, no. First, it’s important to get delusional out of there — it’s ableist, yes, but moreover, it’s simply not true. Right-wingers aren’t delusional. They’re quite rational. They’re just dealing with a reality that doesn’t really exist.
The right is reacting exactly as any rational group of individuals would to the facts they’re given. If the president is really a communist secret Muslim out to turn America into a caliphate, while stealing your money and personal freedom, then yes, he’s someone that needs to be stopped at all costs. If you don’t step outside the bubble you don’t see the facile nature of the arguments, the actual facts that don’t fit with the spin. You accept as a given that what Fox tells you is true, and you go with that.
As for Fox, certainly, some of what they report are outright lies. But much more of what they spew is not, not exactly. They have sources, however flimsy. They have references and hyperlinks, albeit ones to questionable, fly-by-night operations. They’re not lying, or at least, they can tell themselves they aren’t. They’re just mainstreaming information that comes from dubious sources, because that information fits their narrative.
Around the time of the health care debate, this same pattern began on the left.
Probably, it’s always been there. But it was at that time that it really began to get traction. Firedoglake began amplifying the message that Obama was selling out the left, that he was intentionally trying to undermine the public option in order to…something. It was never made clear exactly why Obama would work against a policy that he had specifically endorsed, other than that it meant Obama was in thrall to Big Business.
Of course, Obama never did what the FDL crowd accused him of. It never happened. The public option was stripped from the bill for mundane reasons — it didn’t have enough support to get through the Senate. But that didn’t fit the FDL narrative, which is why they chose to believe and amplify information that came from dubious sources, because that information fit their narrative.
Since then, the left wing of the American left has been more and more invested in finding bits of data to fit their narrative, rather than reacting to facts. Bradley Manning? He couldn’t have been arrested for stealing military secrets, then treated badly in jail, though not uniquely so. He had to be a political prisoner, one who Barack Obama had literally ordered to be tortured. The Assange rape case? It couldn’t be, you know, an actual case where women had been raped. It had to be a “honeytrap,” a plot by the CIA to get Assange to the US, where he could be killed, or, alternately, a case of women who shouldn’t be allowed to cry “rape” over a little thing like someone not using a condom when he’d agreed to and then refusing to stop when he was told to stop. And now, the unbelievably stupid crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street in New York and Oakland and Berkley? They couldn’t be the combination of mayoral stupidity and police that have been slowly militarized over the past three decades. No, this has to be a coordinated plot, run out of the Oval Office, to destroy Occupy Wall Street.
Karoli has a good run-down on the completely non-existent underpinnings of that last charge. Suffice to say that one article ran on a questionable website. It was loudly trumpeted by grifter and professional narcissist Michael Moore on Keith Olbermann’s show, and now it’s been taken worldwide by Naomi Wolf, who was last seen simultaneously defending Assange from the mean women who he may have raped and burning every bridge between herself and the feminist community.
Of course, the story is too good to check, because it echos everything the pro-left wants to echo. Obama’s a corporatist lackey who really doesn’t want to improve things for anyone, and who harbors a very-well-hidden authoritarian streak. He’s to the right of Reagan, and anyone who doubts that just hasn’t read enough articles on FDL and Truthout.
The people who say this are not delusional. They are perfectly rational. If you don’t step outside the bubble, you don’t see the facile nature of the arguments, the actual facts that don’t fit with the spin. You accept as a given that what the pro-left tells you is true, and you go with that.
Look, as we on the left are fond of hurling at the right, we’re entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts. And too often lately, the left is going on with their own facts at the same time the right is going on with theirs. And this leads us to where we are now, where there is literally no common ground between the activists in both parties, because both sides are so certain that they are right, and everyone else is wrong.
The truth is messy. It doesn’t fit into narratives, and it’s often uncomfortable. But damn it, it’s the truth. If the left decides to completely divorce itself from reality at the same time the right does, then we are in trouble — big trouble.
So, lefties, I am asking you politely: please stop. Stop pretending that questionable sources are the gospel truth. Stop pretending that rumor and innuendo are the same as facts. Stop listening to anything Moore and Wolf and Hamsher are saying — because their concern for the truth is roughly the same as that of Hannity and Limbaugh and Coulter, and believe me, it pains me to say that, but it’s true.
Stop fighting the truth, and start accepting it. And when possible, work to improve it. For the good of our country and our world, please.