Episode 23: Nostalgia

We all know that America is in decline. But which institutions and traditions must be brought back if America is to be revived? What is America really all about? Is it a flag? Is it an anthem? Is it the World Series? Let us dig through the depths of nostalgia to discover the truth about America.

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The Post-Truth Society

We live in a post-truth society. This is not to say that I believe in a subjective truth that depends on one’s own perspective. No, truth is objective and not subject to opinions that are always in flux. What I mean is that real truth no longer matters in American society. Dilbert creator and persuasion enthusiast Scott Adams has suggested that Americans today are experiencing reality as if they are watching two different movies. We interpret facts depending on our preexisting perspectives. Two different people reading the same statement or viewing the same piece of information will come away with opposite conclusions. Half the country believes that President Trump is not only a Nazi and a Fascist but a Russian stooge who somehow stole the 2016 presidential election. The other half of the country believes that there is a deep state bureaucracy, as seen in the FBI, CIA, and other unelected organizations, that conspired to prevent Trump from winning in 2016, and then when he won, tried to oust him in a soft coup. Both realities cannot be true, can they? Even though the first scenario has not been proven, and in fact has been thoroughly disproven despite the leftist media’s best efforts, millions of people still believe it. Why? Two thousand years after the Roman governor of Judea Pontius Pilate asked, “What is truth?” we find ourselves asking the same thing, with no better answer.

A few weeks ago, we saw probably the best example yet of the uselessness of truth in modern discourse. As she campaigns in the Democratic Presidential Primary, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has been recounting a story of being fired from her teaching job by a sexist school board because of her pregnancy. Some conservative news outlets actually investigated and found records showing that rather than being fired, Warren had actually been offered a new contract, but she turned it down so as to stay home and prepare for her child. In a society based upon truth, this should have been the final word. In our society, however, this was just the beginning. Mainstream news outlets such as the Washington Post and the New York Times used the story to attack conservatives for being sexist. The falsity of Warren’s statements was not as important as the greater “truth” of the matter, that women allegedly face sexist barriers in the workforce. This “fake but accurate” idea has been part of leftist strategy for decades. Remember when Dan Rather went on television a month before the 2004 presidential election with forged documents about President George W. Bush’s military service? Fifteen years later and Rather himself is still treated as a wise statesman, and the actual truth or falsehood is ignored as irrelevant.

Last summer, the news delivered terrifying headlines about some fires burning in the Amazon rain forest. It is contributing to global warming, they said. It is worse than ever before, they said. It is because we eat too much meat, they said. It is because Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is a fascist, they said. Yet all of this was untrue. The fires were about average for any given summer and had been started by local farmers looking to clear land, as they often do. Contrary to the claims of vegan environmentalists, many of the farms are used to grow soy, not pastured meat. If you dig deep enough, you find that many of the initial reports were crafted by journalists and activists in Brazil who hate President Bolsonaro and were looking for a hook with which to attack him in the media. How much of our supposedly objective news media is all about pushing one narrative or another in the guise of factual truth?

So much of what we see around us is fake, artificial, and created for media consumption. Reality TV was never truly “real” but was instead carefully prepared and edited to tell a certain story. The Tea Party started as an organic protest against high taxes but was quickly coopted by the usual establishment grifters and turned into another money laundering machine. After the Parkland school shooting a couple of years ago, several students who just happened to have deep state ties were selected by mainstream media to spread the message of gun control. Politicians and political candidates almost never say what they really mean, but instead speak through vague clichés and committee-tested phrases. Real issues are never up for debate, only bumper sticker slogans that are continually preached to the choir. Debates are chances to get your five-second soundbites spread around on social media rather than actually argue the substance of your policies. Social media trends are not a reflection of what people are really thinking or talking about, but what hand-picked influencers have said, or what human-created algorithms decide to promote. Where is the truth, the reality of any of this?

Thirty years ago, historian Daniel Boorstin wrote a book called “Hidden History,” a series of essays about some of the lesser-known trends in American history. In one of these essays, he wrote of what he called the “pseudo-event”. In the old days, the purpose of news media was to report the news. A fire happened at this place, a crime occurred at that place, a new baby was born, a person died, and so on. Boorstin points out that by the 1980s, much of what filled a news report was instead a pseudo-event, not a real one. For example, a media company hires a polling firm to call a selected group of people with carefully worded questions about a political topic. They then collate the data and present it in the guise of a news story. However, no event has occurred – nothing has actually happened. The news media simply creates a story out of thin air and presents it as if it were breaking news. Rather than reporting an event, they are trying to move public opinion in their preferred direction.

Biased reporting has been the norm for decades, but it is worse than that now. A few weeks ago, YouTube banned several right-wing channels despite them not having broken any rules. Social media companies are getting more brazen in their obvious censorship of non-PC beliefs. At the same time, the CEO of YouTube said in an interview with the leftist site vox.com that it was more important than ever to let people upload what they want, even content that is outside the mainstream, controversial, or even offensive. This is brazen; it is outright gaslighting. This is like Orwell’s Big Brother telling you that you are free even as he holds you in chains. Around the same time, a left-wing journalist demanded we stop using the term “narrative” to refer to the stories told about President Trump by left-wing media outlets. “There is only one version of the facts and the truth. Full stop.” This too is rather brazen coming from the same media figures who have been pushing the Russian collusion hoax for nearly three years now. It is not just that the mainstream media wants the ability to spin whatever stories they see fit, but they want to censor anyone who disagrees with their stories by calling them “fake news”. You see this happening all the time now. Stacy Abrams, the black woman who ran for governor of Georgia as a Democrat, has been spending the last year being interviewed by sympathetic journalists who refuse to challenge her claims that the election was “stolen” despite losing to Republican Brian Kemp by almost 50,000 votes. Is this the truth, or a narrative? A few weeks ago, Democratic presidential candidates all paid homage to the memory of Michael Brown, the black bully who beat up an Asian shopkeeper before trying to wrestle away a policeman’s gun. Most of the candidates referred to the incident as “murder” despite President Obama’s own Justice Department concluding that Officer Darren Wilson acted properly and in self-defense. Truth or narrative?

The problem is not just that the media’s narrative is biased, but that it is outright false. Yet this is what they are printing. The way things are going now, I predict that in twenty years mainstream history textbooks will claim that Stacy Abrams actually won the election in Georgia and that Michael Brown was murdered by a racist policeman. They will claim that Donald Trump stole the 2016 presidential election with the help of Russian agents. Anyone who disagrees with these “truths” will be marked as seditious or mentally-ill, and have their online accounts banned, their financial accounts frozen, and “red flags” raised to prevent them from owning guns. As George Orwell said, who controls the past controls the future, and who controls the present controls the past. Just like Orwell’s Big Brother of 1984, the left is rewriting our history so as to control us going forward.  The New York Times recently launched something called the “1619 Project”, a piece of propaganda designed to convince Americans that any prosperity our country has ever enjoyed was not due to the character and perseverance of our ancestors, nor the unique combination of people and land that made America great, but was instead due to nothing more than slavery. They want to rewrite history to claim that America’s greatness is solely due to its African American population. Anyone who knows the slightest bit of American history can see this for the absurdity it is but make no mistake – in another two decades this will be taught as undeniable fact in grade school history textbooks.

I have said before that the left has no principles, only tactics. While the right has long believed in free speech, freedom of the press, and individual liberty, the left only believes in their own power. They only use our own principles as weapons against us. That is why they were able to agitate for free speech on college campuses in the 1960s when they were in the minority but now that they completely dominate academia they impose harsh speech codes and censorship on conservative students, all in the name of safety and combating so-called “hate speech”. Conservatives at the time assumed that the left shared our principles of free speech, but too late discovered that they were simply interested in their own power. Now that they have that power, they have no reason to continue to allow any speech that disagrees with their views.

It is the same regarding the concept of truth. Whereas a traditional conservative believes that truth is objective, the left believes that truth is subjective, constantly changing, a fluid tool that they can use to further their real ends. You see this with the never-ending propaganda for homosexuality and transgenderism on social media lately, as detailed on the Twitter account Woke Capital. Corporate accounts promote various non-conforming people and celebrate them speaking “their truth”. If a man wants to put on a dress and makeup, take drugs, endure painful surgeries to change his body, and call himself a woman, then we are told that we have to accept that because it is his (or her, they say) truth. To a traditional conservative, whose worldview comes from the capital-T Truth of Christianity and the logic and reason of western philosophy, this is completely absurd. More than two thousand years ago Aristotle defined the truth that A is equal to A. A cannot be equal to something that is Not A. To argue against this is to throw away two millennia of philosophy and logic in favor of nothing more than your feelings.

The left has abandoned any connection with the truth. They craft a narrative that serves their ends and call that truth, and attack anyone who disagrees. Facts don’t matter. Reason doesn’t matter. There is no dialectical debate here, it is all a war of rhetoric. Milquetoast conservative Ben Shapiro might say “facts don’t care about your feelings” but he is wrong. Feelings are the only thing that matters in our discourse today. And not just any feelings, but only those feelings that are approved by the corporate and media establishment. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is a standard 1990s Democrat on every issue except for foreign war, but because she opposes that she is labeled a right-wing extremist. Facts don’t matter, because most people don’t hear the facts. They hear what CNN tells them, and what they read in the Washington Post. They hear whatever narrative comes out of late-night TV comedy.

Most people do not have the time, energy, or inclination to investigate everything for themselves, so they just take what the news says at face value and move on with their lives. They accept whatever feels right. When the news pushes a false narrative, year after year, it becomes familiar, and soon “feels right”. Media bias is not simply about how the media reports a story, but what they choose to report and what they choose to ignore. Every summer, mainstream media runs terrifying headlines about icecaps melting and polar bears dying. Every winter, the icecaps freeze once more and the polar bears thrive. These do not make the same headlines, so people assume that things are getting worse and worse when they are really not. President Trump’s mid-40s approval rating makes headlines every week, while President Obama’s mid-40s approval rating was ignored by the mainstream media. The average viewer assumes that Obama was much more popular than Trump, because that is what they hear. The mainstream media highlights every white murderer with endless reports, yet ignores black murderers, so viewers assume that there is an epidemic of white gun violence while any talk of black violence is simply racist falsehood. A few weeks ago, the New York Times published a story about some violence in South Africa. Black South Africans, upset by shopkeepers who had moved in from elsewhere in Africa, vandalized and ransacked their stores. How did the Times put it in the headline, though? “Violence against African immigrants.” If you only read the headline you come away thinking that evil white racists were terrorizing innocent black Africans. I am sure that is what the New York Times editors wanted you to think. This systematic bias is evident in every area of mainstream reporting.

The late author Michael Crichton described an effect he called Gell-Mann Amnesia. An expert in a certain field, say law, opens the newspaper and reads an article about a legal dispute. Being an expert, he notices numerous errors and falsehoods in the article. He wonders how they can write about things of which they are so ignorant. Then he turns the page and reads about economic issues and assumes they are 100% correct, since he is not an expert in the economy. Put all this together and realize that the news media not about delivering facts and truth but is instead designed to push narratives and propaganda. For those who are peddling the Russian collusion narrative, the truth of the matter is less important than the end goal of ousting President Trump and his supporters and regaining power over our nation. The ends always justify the means for these people.

A major component in the decline of truth is the decline of language. As America declines, we have witnessed the decline of our English language along with it. While schoolteachers lament the worsening of grammar with each passing generation, a more substantive decline is at work. Thirty years ago, Neil Postman pointed out how the advent of television was accompanied by a decrease in vocabulary as America moved from a textual society to an audiovisual one. The complexity of grammar and language has only decreased since then, as the post-millennial generation communicates almost entirely using acronyms and emoji.

However, there is a more insidious erosion of language going on in American society today. In our post-truth society, words and phrases themselves have lost all objective meaning. In general, traditional conservatives tend to see words and language as tools for delivering factual information. We like to think that our thought processes are based upon reason and logic. For the American left, on the other hand, words are not tools for accurately transmitting information, but rather for manipulation. Since they do not believe in objective truth it is not a stretch to twist words to fit their goals. Rational discourse requires that all parties agree on certain definitions and assumptions. If one party starts changing the definition of words to mean whatever they want, then rational discourse is impossible. The two sides end up talking past each other; they might as well be speaking completely different languages.

George Orwell often wrote about the use of language in propaganda. One of the main themes of his novel 1984 was how the totalitarian Party redefined language in order to control ideas. It is very difficult for people to conceive of an idea if they have no vocabulary for doing so. Steve Sailer recently pointed out a real-world example of this: We hear about “anti-Semitism” all the time, and accusations of anti-Semitism are constantly being thrown around in the media – from Muslims who hate Jews in general, to right-wingers who accuse Jews of running the world, to left-wingers who are upset that a Jewish state exists in the Middle East. Yet, as Sailer points out, we never hear about the opposite – anti-Gentilism. It obviously exists – just peruse the Twitter feeds of prominent left-wing Jews and you will see all sorts of hatred for white people and Christians. Yet we have no word to describe it, so it is not something we are able to have conversations about. Ask anyone on the street about anti-Semitism and they can tell you what it means and give you more than one example. Ask the same people about anti-Gentilism and you’ll get confusion, maybe even offense.

There is something called a “motte-and-bailey argument” that often shows up in modern discourse. A motte-and-bailey was a type of castle that was popular in Europe about a thousand years ago that consisted of a stone keep built atop a raised earthwork called a motte, surrounded by a walled courtyard called a bailey. The inhabitants of the castle lived and worked in the bailey, but when an enemy attacked, they could retreat to the relative safety of the motte. In a motte-and-bailey argument, someone can argue from a very liberal definition of a word or concept, only to retreat to the safety of the motte when defending their argument. For example, feminists against everything from traditional masculinity to father’s rights, and even against traditional marriage and the family structure. When criticized, however, they retreat to a very narrow definition of feminism – it’s only about men and women being equal, they say. They pretend that those other arguments they made earlier in the name of feminism were not really feminist. Socialists use the same trick. When Hugo Chavez instituted socialism in Venezuela, one of the wealthiest nations in South America at the time, leftists praised him saying that socialism was bringing prosperity and equality to the Venezuelan people. However, when conditions there deteriorated so much that people resorted to eating pets and zoo animals to survive, the same people disavowed their previous statements, now saying that it was never real socialism. When times were good, they argued from the bailey, but when it all went bad, they retreated to the motte.

Let’s look at just a few more words and ideas that have been perverted by the left. Take “diversity,” for example. The dictionary definition of diversity is a group of things that are unlike each other in one way or another. Yet the modern progressive definition is anything that has few white people. When the Marvel movie Black Panther came out, it was celebrated as a triumph of “diversity” despite the fact that the cast was almost entirely black. There is nothing wrong with a movie full of black people, after all it was about a fictional African country. The deceit comes in using the word “diversity” to refer to such a movie, especially when we are propagandized from childhood to believe that “diversity is our strength”. Notice that we are never told exactly *why* diversity is our strength, just that it is. There is no truth to the matter, as it is not a statement that is backed by evidence or logic; it is merely a religious mantra. Questioning this mantra gets one labeled a racist bigot, which is no different than that way in which questioning the medieval church got one labeled a heretic. On the contrary though, works like Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone” show pretty conclusively that groups are stronger the more they have in common. Look out the window and you will see the downside of diversity as our country and our communities fracture into mistrust and even violence, yet we are constantly reminded that diversity is an unmitigated good, and only racists and bigots would have any problem with it. Our cultural leaders tolerate no dissent from the dogma of diversity.

The words “racist” and “bigot” have also been perverted by the American left. The base meaning of racist is someone who believes that one race of people is superior to another, believes in false stereotypes about a race of people, or simply one who judges another individual based upon the race that individual belongs to. “Bigot” is similar but can apply to other characteristics beyond race. Over the last few years, however, the meaning of the words has been completely twisted. “Racist” is now simply a pejorative for white people. Mainstream news publications carry articles that explain that all white people are racist, no matter what. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are evidence of structural racism. Just this week I saw an article claiming that table manners are racist. At this point it is evident that the word means nothing to those who use it. The same goes for white nationalists or white supremacists. Ostensibly, a white nationalist is simply someone who believes that white people should have their own nation. A white supremacist, on the other hand, would be someone who believes white people are superior to other ethnicities. Yet today those terms are simply yet more pejoratives that the left uses for anyone who questions their religion of diversity. It does not even have to make sense – Vietnamese journalist Andy Ngo, black conservative Candace Owens, and the quarter-Mexican Nicholas Fuentes have all been smeared as “white supremacists” by the mainstream media. Rather than communicating something factual, this epithet simply identifies someone as a bad person.

What about the other favorite term of the left, social justice? Whenever a phrase includes an adjective, then you must remember that the adjective modifies the noun. Let us begin with the noun: justice. The dictionary definition of justice is impartial mediation, a search for the truth of a matter. The statue of Lady Justice atop the Old Bailey in London demonstrates our traditional concept of justice. The lady holds in one hand a scale, with which to divine the truth; a sword, with which to execute punishment on the guilty; and is blindfolded, so as to not show partiality. Impartiality in justice is paramount. It is one of the greatest achievements of English common law, the idea that truth is truth and justice is justice no matter how wealthy or powerful a man is. Kings and peasants are considered equal under the law. But what happens when we add the word “social” to our traditional concept of justice? “Social justice” deliberately takes off the blindfold, saying that because some groups were oppressed or injured in the past, then they must receive special dispensations in the present to make up for that past oppression. African Americans, for example, must receive extra financial and legal benefits to make up not only for two centuries of slavery in North America but also for what is called our “systemic racism” that is apparently still pervasive in society. Like diversity, questioning “social justice” is verboten, and anyone who does so is labeled a racist bigot and ostracized from polite society.

Unlike real justice, which is interested in the objective truth, social justice is interested in what Vladimir Lenin called “who, whom” – that is, who is doing what to whom. According to the standards of true justice, Officer Darren Wilson was guiltless in the shooting of Michael Brown. However, according to the standards of “social” justice, Brown was innocent of wrongdoing simply because he was black, while Officer Wilson was guilty of murder because he is white. Social justice has turned the left into a game of musical chairs as everyone struggles to figure out where they are on the hierarchy of oppression and victimhood. Are gays more deserving of social justice than blacks? Does a white woman have more or less privilege than an Asian man? It is a great irony that under the standards of social justice, the children of former President Barack Obama are considered oppressed while the children of a white single mother in Arkansas are considered privileged.

The cult of social justice has invaded the American church as well. From liberal mainstream denominations to many Christian-based charities, the idea of social justice has slowly replaced the Gospel of Christ as the primary mission of the church. Preaching the gospel is considered colonialist, reminiscent of the Spanish conquistadors or forced schooling of Indian children, and therefore frowned upon. In its place is a commitment to social justice to the poor and minority groups throughout the world. In reality this looks little different than the Marxist liberation theology which replaced the Gospel of Christ with the class-based warfare advocated by Karl Marx and his Communist ilk. Marx divided the world into two groups – oppressors and the oppressed – that were ever at odds with each other. With liberation theology, it is the job of the church to establish a Kingdom of Heaven on earth by overthrowing the oppressive capitalists and instituting a Communist utopia. This sort of theology fits nicely with the left’s progressive religion, which also has its roots in Marxism. While the Bible states that our God is a god of justice, remember that the modern left has changed the meaning of the word. For both secular and Christian progressives, “justice” now means taking resources and even our very homes from western Europeans and giving them to everyone else.

This sort of duplicity can also be seen in other areas of political debate, such as guns. The phrase “gun control” itself is sleight of hand. When trying to appeal to conservative gun owners, the media calls it “common sense gun control,” pretending that they are advocating only limited regulation that everyone agrees with. Privately, however, gun-control advocates all know that “gun control” means full gun bans and confiscation. In 1994, Democrats in Congress passed the so-called Assault Weapons Ban, which was signed into law by President Clinton. One problem, however, is that there is no such thing as an “assault weapon”. The law defined these weapons mostly by cosmetics – extendable shoulder rests, pistol grips, etc. However, there is functionally no difference between an AR-15 style rifle with those cosmetic enhancements and any other semi-automatic rifle without them. Yet one was banned and the other was not. Assault rifles are a thing – that phrase describes a specific kind of light machine gun that was developed to allow soldiers to quickly assault a fixed position. An assault rifle has select-fire capability, that is, it can be switch to automatic so that it continues firing rounds as long as the trigger is held. These fully automatic weapons, however, have been banned in this country since 1986. This does not stop politicians and journalists from using the term to describe other kinds of guns, however. They like to use the terms automatic, semi-automatic, and assault weapon all together as if they mean the same thing, but they most certainly do not. The purpose of such language, beyond plain ignorance on the part of the speakers, is to scare people into supporting restrictions and bans on guns. Rather than using words to accurately describe the situation to people, they are instead using it to manipulate them into supporting certain political positions.

Manipulation and propaganda are the driving forces behind the left’s perversion of language. When was the last time you heard a journalist describe someone as “far left”? I can’t remember any examples. Antifa can beat an innocent man half to death and mainstream media still defends them and claims they are simply resisting fascism. Communists, from Stalin, Mao, and Castro all the way to Nicolas Maduro, are rarely described as left or far left. On the other hand, every moderately conservative figure is routinely called “far right” in the media. Even milquetoast moderates like Ben Shapiro are often described this way, as if being reactionary or conservative in any fashion means we all occupy the same ideological space as Adolf Hitler (whom they also call “far right”). Media does the same thing with the word “controversial”. Right-wing figures are always “controversial” because the left disagrees with them. We on the right disagree with the left, but the left-wing figures are rarely, if ever, called “controversial”. This is not a factual description but a signal to viewers and readers that this person should be viewed with distrust. Again, the media is not using language to inform but to manipulate.

Words mean things. Over the last fifteen centuries the English language has evolved and developed to be a fine tool of information and art. English is endlessly versatile. With the English lexicon one can write the plays of Shakespeare or Tennessee Williams, the prose of James Fenimore Cooper or Tom Clancy, the poetry of William Blake or Emily Dickinson, and the lyrics of the Beatles or Muse. Using the English language one can write a screenplay for a movie that brings out deep emotions in its audience, or a technical paper that precisely describes a chemical process. Every concept has an associated word or phrase. It is with fine-tuned words that we can express even the most minute differences in concepts. Mauve and maroon are different colors. There is a real distinction between hungry and starving. There is a material difference between an automatic rifle and a semi-automatic rifle. Don’t let our language be eroded and destroyed in the name of propaganda. Use the English language properly – say what you mean and mean what you say. Insist that your children learn the meanings of words as well as proper grammar. The best way to know what is crooked is to know what is straight – by knowing what words really mean, we can be on guard for the sleight of hand that is all too common today.

The best response to our post-truth society is to first disengage from the liars. Stop consuming mainstream media. Find a local newspaper that actually reports local news if you need that. Find some trusted online sources for national news, whether it is the Drudge Report or Infogalactic News or another site. Always remember that even your favorite news sites have a bias that you must consider. Make sure to dig into the facts of a story before passing judgment. Always ask yourself which angle the journalists are presenting. Why are they writing it the way they are? What might they hope to accomplish with publishing this story? Raise your children to be skeptical of the way our culture is presented in media. Turn off the propaganda that comes in from Hollywood and Madison Avenue. Don’t allow your children to be raised by popstars and rappers. Truth does not change. Aristotle knew it. Jesus Christ preached it and lived it. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” he said, “No man comes to the Father except through Me.” This is despite what you hear from liberal churches who, in the name of tolerance and inclusivity, say that people can come to God in a variety of ways and through a variety of faiths. Truth is truth, despite changing cultural norms, despite opinion polls, despite media propaganda. They say that truth is treason in an empire of lies. That empire is crumbling and falling around us, but truth will always be truth.

Episode 2x: Civil War

This week I have another re-recorded episode with improved audio quality. This is the second episode of the podcast, originally released last March. Despite being more than six months old, the themes of this episode ring ever more true today. President Trump recently warned that the escalating rhetoric of our discourse would lead to another civil war. This issue is not going away anytime soon.

Listen here, or listen, subscribe, and review at iTunes.