By Barry Rubin
President Barack Obama will probably be defeated in November by people voting for the Republican candidate who will then tell their friends that they voted for Obama. For them, that will be a compromise between responding to the reality they see as opposed to being in fashion and not being called nasty names by one’s peers.
It is like the story told by the latest Western woman to be sexually assaulted by a mob in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Listen carefully to what she says:
“Heather said that she came forward to talk about what happened to her `because people need to know what goes on. It is the only way to start making it a problem that will have to be dealt with.’”
“However, many people told her to not reveal what happened to her because she was told, `it would hurt the image of the revolution.’ But Heather said after seeing the reports of others and their assaults, `I felt it was right to say something.’”
These few lines contain the most important of all wisdom for this year, 2012.
Heather articulates one of the greatest ideas of the Enlightenment and of Western civilization. The way to progress, succeed, and to solve problems is to speak honestly. That’s why freedom of speech is the very first principle in the U.S. Bill of Rights. But the dominant philosophy of the current age — Political Correctness — is based on exalting lies on behalf of allegedly good causes.
If that doctrine was about the importance of honesty it would be called Factual Correctness. Political Correctness is the doctrine of dictatorships, not democracies and certainly not the democratic way of life. It is not merely saying that the end justifies the means but that the end justifies sabotaging the real means for attaining success, thus guaranteeing disastrous outcomes.
Many — unfortunately including lots of journalists and academics — proudly think themselves virtuous to lie and urge others to lie. What use then are schools, universities, and the mass media?
Then there is the second part of the formula: the intimidation of those who try to tell the truth. They are censored out, derided, and called all sorts of names. They are deprived of the glittering prizes of jobs, fame, and money. We already know that it is hard enough for any woman to talk about being raped and that the onus is put on her for the crime of which she is the victim. Added onto that is the burden of “dissing” by truth the supposedly wonderful revolution or supposedly beneficial political forces.
It is an old Stalinist Communist argument. Do you want to help the reactionary capitalist imperialist forces? And now we are supposed to accept this as the latest word in liberalism? This covering up, lying, and twisting the facts is the supposed mission of the mass media and of academia, whose mission is supposed to be the exact opposite?
Yet this is the argument used against those who would complain about the hegemonic ideology in the West today and its poisoned fruits. And those who do complain, criticize, and point out the failures of this system are ridiculed as part of the unfashionable, of the unwashed, hideous, uneducated masses of know-nothings who cling to guns, religion, and racism. Or if obviously well-off and beyond being hurt by material punishments, they will be called greedy and mean-spirited. There is no shortage of insults. And have no doubt, a large proportion — in some places a majority; in others almost half- — of North Americans and Europeans, including people who have the best possible intentions, believe the propaganda they are being fed.
Then there are the material threats to one’s career (media or university job? Forget it) and livelihood, in many locales also to their social acceptance.