An Age of Untruth

Five Lies We Live With

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Make no mistake about it, this is a dishonest age. That our daily lies are purportedly advanced in the cause of the common good, nevertheless do not make them any less lies.

Beware of sudden and apparently reasonable “calls for civility.” That pathetic mantra is usually voiced by a liberal administration and its supporters when criticism mounts that they are taking the country too far to the Left -- like the Clinton implosion in 1993 or Obama today. I fear “civility” does not mean one should not write novels or produce movies contemplating murdering George Bush -- that’s  sort of an understandable agitprop art. “Civility” does not mean the New York Times should not give discounts to run ads in wartime like “General Betray Us.” That’s needed dissidence. Civility does not suggest that a Sen. Durbin, or Sen. Kerry, or Sen. Kennedy not use inflammatory language that compares our own  troops or personnel to terrorists, Nazis, Pol Pot, Stalinists, or Saddam Hussein’s torturers; that most certainly in not uncivil. And it was certainly not impolite for Rep. Stark to call President Bush a “liar.”

“Civility” does not mean that we should not spew hate at anti-war protests; that’s grass-roots popular protest. It doesn't mean that we should not employ Nazi and fascistic labels to tar the President of the United States like John Glenn or Al Gore or Robert Byrd did. “Civility” does not mean that a shrill Hillary Clinton should not scream that the Bush administration is trying to silence critics, or suggest that the commanding general of an entire theater was lying to Congress in ways that require a “suspension of disbelief.” That’s needed pushback.

O Ye of Little Memory! Do we recall any American shock when the Guardian published Charles Brooker’s lament -- "John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. -- where are you now that we need you?" And I don’t recall anyone felt that language was getting too heated when Howard Dean, head of the Democratic Party, fumed, "I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for." And was it not The New Republic that highlighted Jonathan Chait's infamous "Why I Hate George W. Bush" article? Of course, there was that thoroughly civil New York play, "I'm Gonna Kill the President."

So, please, spare us the sanctimonious rot about being shocked by conservative metaphors like “lock and load” or “targeting” vulnerable Democratic districts. Like it or not, “civility” has nothing to do with real civility that is bipartisan in fashion and necessary for tolerance in a politically diverse culture. It simply means that conservatives must be stopped in their Neanderthal opposition to an enlightened agenda by any means necessary — by being uncivil to them when conservatives are in power, and demanding they not do the same when liberals run things. All political parties wish it both ways; but in the present age, the media and a cultural elite really have convinced themselves that speaking out against Barack Obama is a sort of heresy while smearing the Bush “regime” was de rigueur.

Diversity? Not.

Beware of  the ubiquitous “diversity.” Diversity does not mean needed difference, as in a community of religiously diverse people -- for example, a Harvard with plentiful booths in the free speech area promoting Mormonism, or ROTC, or support for Israel, or anti-abortion. “Diversity” does not mean 51-49 % votes in the faculty Senate over condemning or supporting the Iraq War of 2003.

“Diversity” does not equate to a faculty department equally divided among Marxists, liberals, conservatives, and libertarians. No, sadly “diversity” is a second-generation word that was by needs reinvented to supplant the Orwellian “affirmative action.”

In the 1980s, American elite culture grasped that the old superstructure of racial preference was both too cumbersome and too narrow all at once: Too cumbersome in the sense that too many were asking uncomfortable questions like, “Why are we giving preference in hiring or admission to a Spanish aristocrat named José Lopes, as if he were a supposedly  underprivileged Mexican-American who suffers from a legacy of racism?,” or “Why is someone in the upper-middle class who is half African-American given preference, and not a poor darker Mohinder Singh from the Punjab who in theory would encounter as much or more discrimination?,” or “Why are all these cynical white-looking kids claiming their grandmothers were one-eighth Cherokee?”

And yet affirmatives action was also all too narrow in the sense that should not upper-class women, and wealthy gays or hyper-achieving, wealthy Asians, likewise, be entitled to help?

In answer to both the contradictions of racial preferences and its narrowness, “diversity” came onto the scene. To the degree that anyone could establish that they were not completely white, male, Christian and heterosexual, they were  “diverse” members of the community and could perhaps find some advantage or boost in the fierce competition for jobs and influence and money.  No one could define diversity, but miraculously all seem to recognize it when they saw it.

The real diversity -- that of differences in thinking and independence of opinion -- was hardly welcome, and any sort of call for such genuine diversity of thought  was seen as hostile and sometimes had to be dubbed “reactionary,” “racist,” “homophobic," “sexist,” etc.

So we ended up with “diversity” meaning “university” -- a synonym for monolithic intolerance, for everyone worshiping “diversity” without exception. If that seems harsh, it is also the way things are.

Wind and Solar and Millions of Green Jobs!

“Green Power”  and “wind and solar” oddly do not mean that we are going to power our homes and cars with entirely new fuels, at least in our lifetimes.

Instead that entire green lexicon assures us that we can feel good about ourselves by symbolic gestures, like subsidizing a noble wind farm or putting up an impressive solar panel through government subsidies that mask the current non-competitiveness of such alternate power. The truth is that 21st-century internal combustion engines are revolutionary compared with their fossilized predecessors just three decades ago. Like it or not, such engines -- preferably in the near future burning natural gas that is becoming more, not less retrievable, and in combination with batteries or biofuel blends -- will continue to power our cars. Semi-trucks, earth-moving equipment, and tractors are not going to become electrically powered any time soon.