“Don’t disturb the order of the world, storyteller.”
– Mario Vargas Llosa, The Storyteller.
Corruption, delusion, and mendacity are nothing new as determinants of both personal and collective life. They are staples of human nature. But with the spread of the print and electronic media and the immediate accessibility of information at any time and any place in the “global village,” the opportunity for mass deception has become the distinguishing factor of our time. Sophistry and subterfuge have gone mainstream. The ability of dominant elites to influence and even control the thought-world of vast populations to an historically unprecedented extent is now an integral part of contemporary life.
There are, to be sure, various ancillary elements involved in the ubiquitous public hospitality to blatant fictions and professional guile, including the critical decay of education at all levels and the growing proneness to parasitical entitlements among Western electorates, accentuating the appetite for passivity and stoking what amounts to a handout mentality. A populace coddled by welfare gratuities will accept packaged ideas and doctored reports as readily as they do food stamps, tax exemptions, and government checks.
As a result, intellectual laziness has never been so widespread in a pampered and ostensibly enlightened cultural realm, providing a soft target for media disinformation and political propaganda to work their injurious will. (It must be admitted that even the dispensers of such concoctions are often under the spell of their own stupefactions.) Nothing else, it would appear, can explain the reflexive acceptance among those who should know better of the three consummate trumperies disfiguring the era in which we live: the Palestinian “narrative,” the climate change shakedown, and the ascent of Barack Obama to the most powerful office in the world. Truth is now at a discount as never before and has been increasingly replaced by promiscuous and sovereign mythologies.
1. In a recent “Nakba Day” speech delivered by a Palestinian official on behalf of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was informed that the Jews have no historical right to the land of Israel. “We say that the nation of Palestine upon the land of Canaan had a 7,000-year history B.C.E. This is the truth, which must be understood, and we have to note it, in order to say: ‘Netanyahu, you are incidental in history. We are the people of history. We are the owners of history.’”
This speech was a follow-up to an incendiary rant Abbas addressed to the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2011. Standing before a regional map from which Israel had been erased, Abbas insisted that Israel had no connection to the Holy Land, which he claimed was exclusively Islamic and Christian, and received an ovation for his efforts. In an opinion piece in the Washington Post in December 2011, Maen Rashid Areikat, the PLO representative to the United Nations, glossed Abbas’ fictive account of the antiquity of the so-called “Palestinian nation,” declaring that Palestinians had “lived under the rule of a plethora of empires: the Canaanites, Egyptians, Philistines, Israelites, Persians, Greeks, Crusaders, Mongols, Ottomans, and finally, the British.” As Alexander Yoffe comments in a comprehensive article in the Middle East Quarterly aptly titled “The Rhetoric of Nonsense,” such unadulterated hogwash offers “not only…an indication of unwavering Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist but…an insightful glimpse into the psyche of their willfully duped Western champions.”