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Sports scores don’t vary according to the newspaper you read them in. Neither does the weather, outside of some minor degrees. You won’t find one outlet reporting an accident downtown and another reporting the same accident uptown. When it comes to weather, sports and crime, we all seem to be on the same page, and are looking at the same set of facts.
When it comes to politics, however, all bets are off.
Different newspapers will declare different winners of debates (unless the debate goes so badly for one candidate that it is obvious who lost) and different facts and figures will be reported. It leaves us wondering whether we can trust anyone anymore. There are many who feel that the media are misleading us. I disagree. I think it’s worse than that.
Facts are trivial annoyances to ideologues. They are interested in their view of the world, their vision of how it should be. That’s it.
In an interview with Gloria Steinem some years ago, John Stossel pointed out that there are many studies, done by women, which point to basic biological differences between men and women. (Steinem and many others maintain that gender is mostly a fact of nurture, not nature, and gender roles are socially formed, and have no tie to nature.) Her response was telling. She didn’t question the research or try to find fault with it. She said, “It’s really a remnant of anti-American crazy thinking to do this kind of research.” In other words, this type of research should not be done, because we have already decided what kind of world we want. Don’t bother me with the facts.
What lurks behind such relativism is attributing to man a godlike intellect. God’s reason and will are active and creative. He thinks/wills things into being. Our intellect is passive; we merely understand and reflect upon what He has made. The Marxists were ideologues in this way (though not all such ideologues are Marxists.) We want a society without classes, and our entire vision of ethics, history, everything is designed to make that happen, to justify and underpin it. You are god on earth, and your mind can make things happen. Visualize world peace. (Seeing it yet? Me neither.)
When relativism takes hold, and political and media power align ideologically, news becomes propaganda. It’s not that they’re lying; it’s that they can’t see the world any other way. They don’t think they are lying, anyway, because ethics is subordinate to the end game of making their ideological heaven on earth come true. Fudge a jobs report statistic because it betters the cause? Sure. Fabricate a candidate’s backstory? Why not? (The right can be guilty of this as much as the left.)
Would you go to a doctor who had his own definition of health? Get in a taxi if the driver had his own definition of east and west? Good luck in a world where each information peddler grants himself the privilege of defining truth.
Only the most egregious media lies get punished, and that only by slaps on the wrist. There is no check and balance on media power in the USA right now, and the average media consumer is left without the one thing we all need to make free judgments: facts we all can share.
Without common facts we have no common world, and community is impossible (outside of ideological camaraderie.)
Our country was founded on the principle that many could become one. E pluribus unum. But that “one” was something we could all discover and find together. Something that was evident to all because it was self-evident, like equality for all.
Now, it seems, if you believe in absolute truth you’re a mental infant, pitifully locked in the past and unenlightened. Haven’t you realized that there is no self-evident truth and you must choose your own and forge it and fight for it against other versions of reality? If not, you’ll forever depend on someone else!
Sorry. I don’t buy it. I am an American. When I hold certain truths to be self-evident, I declare my independence.