It felt a bit like waking up in a dystopian novel.
Outright, demonstrable lies from the U.S. administration not only not being a source of embarrassment to those in power, but being outright defended as — and here’s a ludicrous term for the ages that could have come directly out of Orwell — alternative facts.
So what, some people might argue, they fudged the size of the crowd for the president’s inauguration. It’s not like this is a matter of policy or law or anything.
But in a way it seems to be a matter of policy — a new view in the U.S. government that the truth just doesn’t matter. At all. You can totally ignore it if it’s inconvenient.
There are many problems with this outlook, of course.
Fruitful discourse depends upon facts.
We can’t just make stuff up and pretend it’s true, too, because we live in some parallel universe. Or because we don’t happen to like the truth, or because we want to stroke someone’s ego.
This is how dictatorships work where nutty leaders pretend the bears have come out of hibernation because the glorious supreme leader died.
Where the truth is whatever the whimsical sociopath says it is on any given day because if you don’t express your fervent belief in the insanity you run the distinct risk of being tortured, re-educated (one and the same really), or outright executed.
There’s also the question of, if they’re willing to obfuscate on something of no lasing importance whatsoever, what are they willing to do to get their way on matters of substance?
What’s the next fact that will fall victim to what looks uncomfortably like 1984’s Ministry of Truth?
And what about facts that aren’t so easily, visibly confirmed? There are plenty of important things for which the government is the information source.
So what does it matter in Canada, one might ask.
Well, the U.S. is our closest neighbour, and biggest trading partner and it’s truly alarming that the administration we will be negotiating with just makes stuff up and clings to it whether it’s true or not.
How does one deal with such cognitive dissonance?
So it is important to call out this first attempt to construct a world void of truth, no matter how trivial the subject may be. It’s about what comes next.
Alternative facts for a post-truth era? What dangerous nonsense.