Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/20/18: Life, Death, Fairness, Dissonance And Sanity

1 Let’s see more of such Ethics Heroes, please… In Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania,  John Orsini, has gone to court to stop his ex-wife from allowing their son, 17-year-old Antonio, from playing high school football in his senior year. Antonio has already suffered at least three concussions. Antonio’s mother and John’s ex-wife, Janice, says that her son understands the risks, and that doctors have OK’d his continued play.

But he doesn’t understand the risks—apparently neither do those doctors—and he is considered a minor under the law because teenagers are prone to poor reasoning and impulsive decisions…especially when they have incipient brain damage.

CNN is eager to hear his position on gun control though. But I digress..

Says the CBS news story: “John contends that after these concussions and sub-concussive hits, medical research shows that Antonio would be in grave danger if he continues to play football.” He contends? There is no contention: that is fact.

“I’m trying to save his future. I’m trying to save his life,” he said of his son.

Janice and her attorney issued a statement, saying in part,

“The mother and her 17-year-old son have reasonably relied upon the input and opinions of his treating physicians and medical providers, and have considered the state mandated safety and concussion protocols followed by the school district, in deciding whether it was appropriate for him to continue to participate in football.”

John believes the court will side with him.  “If you have a significant indication that the child is being placed in harm’s way, and it’s brought to court to protect the child, it’s the court obligation to do so,” he says. I wouldn’t be so sure. This is football country, and football fanatics are in denial. They’ll get thousands of children’s brains injured before they are through.

“I’m hopeful that my son will just go on, get a good education and lead a healthy life. That’s all I want,” said John, whose other two sons no longer speak to him over this conflict.

Good luck.

Let’s hope Anthony is given then chance to grow smarter than his mother.

2. Let’s see, which Trump Derangement news media story should I post today? Every day, every single day, I have literally dozens of biased, vicious, stupid, unprofessional and blatantly partisan mainstream media news reports and pundit excesses to flag as unethical. Here, for example, is a New York Times columnists advocating for Rex Tillerson to betray all professional ethics, confidentiality, trust and responsibility by revealing everything he heard or saw as Secretary of State that could undermine Trump’s administration. It’s called, “Burn it down, Rex.”

Let me repeat: for journalists to set out to intentionally poison public opinion against the elected President of the United States by manipulation and hostile reporting is unethical and dangerous. This conduct has been the single largest ethics breach in the culture for more than a year, and one of the worst in U.S. history. In strenuously condemning journalism’s abdication of its duty to support democratic institutions and to remain objective and responsible, I am not defending Donald Trump. I am attempting to defend the Presidency itself.

Today I pick…this:

This is a graph MSNBC broadcast yesterday to illustrate the alarming and newsworthy increase in the number of tweets by the President mentioning Special Prosecutor Mueller by name, in order to suggest that there has been a substantial and ominous rise. WOW! Look at that sharp rise! Yes, this tweetstorm of antipathy toward Mueller exploded from zero to…2.  TWO. We needed a graph to comprehend the momentousness of that.

Here, by the way, is what the graph would have looked like if Trump had mentioned Mueller…or aardvarks, or bok choy, or Al Kaline, or Tierra del Fuego…  in a tweet just once…

Also, as Amber Athey points out, Trump had mentioned Mueller by name three times the old-fashioned way, by speaking.

This adds the “fake graph” as a sub-category of fake news. The graphic is being used to make something that is completely insignificant look important, and to mislead as well.

MSNBC is a disgrace to journalism and punditry.

And silly, too.

3. “The Ethicist” misses an angle. A letter to the New York Times Magazine’s last week came from someone who owned a rental property, and who stated that the neighbors next door are “extremely racist.” “We have had both white and Hispanic people as renters,” he wrote. “The next-door neighbors harassed the Hispanics until they left. The white family had no issues getting along but did hear their racist rants.” The questioner asked whether he is obligated to tell any prospective renters about the problem.

“The Ethicist” told him that the “right thing to do” was “to inform all potential tenants about this situation, and leave it to them to decide if they want to deal with it.”

This is wrong. To begin with, it is poisoning the relationship between the neighbors and the new renters  from the outset. The writer will guarantee  that the new tenants will interpret everything they see or hear from the neighbors though the jaundiced perception that they are racists. That’s unfair.

I have seen this phenomenon many times, in many settings, especially when starting a new job. “Hey, watch out for X, she’s—–.” In many of these cases, I discovered that the “warning” was based on hearsay, old and distorted past conduct, rumors, or malicious whispering campaigns. I’ve also been the victim of this process. Fighting the behavior became a crusade for me in theater, when I was often told not to hire an artist because he or she was disruptive, or impossible to direct, or just a “bad apple.” Funny: more often than not, if I gave them a chance, these pariahs turned out to be excellent colleagues and sometimes good friends.

Here is what the writer does have an obligation to do: investigate. Visit the neighbors. Talk to them. Make an independent assessment. Confront them with what he had been told,  and if the visit is unsatisfactory, tell the neighbors that he will be monitoring their conduct, and would regard any effort to harass his renters as a personal attack, mandating a strong and unpleasant response.

4. From the “Inconvenient Truths” Files: Holocaust historian and scholar David S. Wyman died last week. He was best known for a controversial but meticulously researched and argued best-seller,  “The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust 1941-1945.” Wyman argued, and showed convincingly, that the United States’s apathy and lack of compassion  had cost tens of thousands of Jews their lives. He wrote: “One does not wish to believe the facts revealed by the documents on which it is based. America, the land of refuge, offered little succor. American Christians forgot about the good Samaritan. …The Nazis were the murderers, but we were the all too passive accomplices.” Among the most conspicuous accomplices pointed to by Wyman’s analysis was President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom Dr. Wyman concluded did nothing for 14 months after learning in 1942 of the mass exterminations of Jews in Nazi Germany. When FDR finally did act, Wyman argued, he did so only out of political calculus.

This conclusion is inescapable on the facts. Roosevelt is so idolized by conventional wisdom for saving America from the Great Depression and Adolf Hitler that the dark side of his record, and it is very dark indeed, is consistently denied or ignored. FDR locked up American citizens without due process because of their nationality and race. He handed over millions of Europeans into the slavery of Stalinist Communism. And yes, bolstered by a State Department dominated by anti-Semites, he fiddled while Jews burned. In the recent Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelts, the last was hardly touched on. Of course not. FDR was a great President!

It is telling that even Arthur Schlesinger Jr., an unapologetically partisan Democrat historian who was the Kennedy court hagiographer, couldn’t come up with a better defense than this, reacting to an episode of PBS’s documentary series “American Experience” based largely on Wyman’s book:

“If you look in a larger context, no one did more to save the Jews in Europe than Franklin Delano Roosevelt, by his opposition to Hitler, by changing the United States from an isolationist nation to a nation prepared to go to war.”

This tap-dancing employs at least the following rationalizations:

3. Consequentialism, or “It Worked Out for the Best”
14. Self-validating Virtue
19. The Perfection Diversion: “Nobody’s Perfect!” or “Everybody makes mistakes!”
21. Ethics Accounting, or “I’ve earned this”/ “I made up for that”
22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”
26. “The Favorite Child” Excuse
33. The Management Shrug: “Don’t sweat the small stuff!”.
34. Success Immunity, or “They must be doing something right!”
38. The Miscreant’s Mulligan or “Give him/her/them/me a break!”
41. The Evasive Tautology, or “It is what it is.”
Rationalization 50A. Narcissist Ethics , or “I don’t care”
63. Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is”

…especially #22, “There are worse things,” #33, “Don’t seat the small stuff!’ and the recently discussed “Yoo’s Rationalization.”

Said Dr. Wyman in response, “If [the PBS show] had gone into depth on Roosevelt and the Holocaust, it would have been worse. There would have been a couple of more positive things to say, and eight or 10 worse things.”

How does popular opinion and the historical verdict deal with the fact that a great American President let so many Jews die, and knew that’s what he was doing?

Here’s that pesky Cognitive Dissonance Scale again. Letting the Holocaust proceed is at the rock bottom of my scale. FDR starts out  high, but not as high as letting Jews die is low. Where does he belong on the scale, once the dissonance is resolved?

___________________________

P0inter and Facts (#2): Daily Caller

Facts (#4): NYT, Washington Post

17 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society, War and the Military

17 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/20/18: Life, Death, Fairness, Dissonance And Sanity

  1. dragin_dragon

    When U.S. and Russian troops finally started discovering these camps, both the Pope and FDR acted horrified. Unfortunately, both knew about them for several years before the first one was found. Stalin probably knew about them as well, but thought they were a good idea. No idea about Churchill.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      Stalin held back and let the Germans stamp out the Warsaw Uprising. Anything to make sure there would be no prominent Poles, Catholic, Jewish, or otherwise, to stand in the way of Soviet domination of eastern Europe after the war.

      I’m not sure how one does deal with the man consistently ranked right after Washington and Lincoln among the presidents, and also strongly associated with liberalism. Conservatives will criticize, perhaps justifiably, his attempts to pack the SCOTUS and govern as an elected king, but even they don’t dare go too far. There isn’t enough distance historically for the liberals to start condemning FDR outright, as they have done with Jefferson and Jackson, and are starting to do with Wilson. I would venture a guess, though, that in time, FDR and JFK will be bumped from their pedestals as Obama and whoever becomes the first female president of the US become the exclusive faces of the liberal side in the US.

  2. Eternal Optometrist

    Good for John Orsini. I hope he’s got his own medical experts lined up for Court – without them he has no chance. With them he has a chance, but I would bet on him to lose.

    The bigger question is what medical provider is clearing someone to play football who has had three concussions already. I guess they don’t say that anyone did – they said they rely on the input and opinions of their medical providers. :

  3. 1. This has a faint odor of divorce politics to me… or maybe someone left the chicken carcass in the trash?

    4. What was FDR to do, other than what he did (win the war)? I am not sure how he could have impacted that outcome, other than get rid of the Nazis. Someone enlighten me, as I am asking the question.

    • Rafael Madoff, whom I have worked with in the past, listed some measures in a letter to the Review of Books..:

      In response to:

      Could FDR Have Done More to Save the Jews? from the May 8, 2014 issue

      To the Editors:

      Regarding the possibility of rescuing Jewish refugees from the Nazis, the choice was not between what was morally desirable and what was “realistic,” as Noah Feldman claims [“Could FDR Have Done More to Save the Jews?,” NYR, May 8]. There were numerous realistic steps that President Franklin D. Roosevelt could have taken that would not have involved challenging the immigration quotas or diverting from the war effort. All of these rescue steps were proposed, at the time, by prominent progressives and New Dealers, such as Nation editor Freda Kirchwey, Democratic congressman Emanuel Celler, and investigative journalist I.F. Stone.

      Consider, for example, immigration. The quota system permitted a maximum of 25,957 German citizens to immigrate to the US each year. Yet during Roosevelt’s twelve years in office, the German quota was filled in only one year; and in most of those years, it was less than 25 percent filled. A total of nearly 190,000 quota places from Germany and Axis-controlled countries sat unused during the Holocaust years. FDR did not have to confront Congress or ignite public controversy over the issue—all he had to do was quietly instruct the State Department (which administered immigration) to permit immigrants to enter up to the maximum number allowed by law.

      In 1938, the governor and legislative assembly of the US Virgin Islands offered to open their territory to Jewish refugees. When the refugee ship St. Louis approached America’s shore the following spring, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. proposed permitting the passengers to stay in the Virgin Islands temporarily on tourist visas. Interior Secretary Harold Ickes also urged using the islands as a haven. But FDR personally blocked the proposals for a Virgin Islands haven. The administration claimed that Nazi spies might sneak in, disguised as refugees (even though no such spies had ever been discovered among Jewish refugees).

      Noah Feldman notes that Richard Breitman and Allan Lichtman, in their book FDR and the Jews, claim that the impact of bombing Auschwitz or the railways leading to the camp “would not have been great.” George S. McGovern, who was in a better position to judge this issue, felt otherwise. In 1944, the future US senator and presidential candidate was one of the young bomber pilots who flew over Auschwitz, bombing German oil factories nearby. Here’s what he told Wyman Institute interviewers in 2004:

      There is no question we should have attempted…to go after Auschwitz. There was a pretty good chance we could have blasted those rail lines off the face of the earth, which would have interrupted the flow of people to those death chambers, and we had a pretty good chance of knocking out those gas ovens.

      In any event, the Roosevelt administration rejected the bombing requests on different grounds. Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy responded to the requests by claiming that the administration had conducted a “study” that had found that such bombing raids were not feasible because they would require “diverting” bombers from elsewhere in Europe.

      But both of McCloy’s claims were false. There is no evidence any such study was conducted. As for the claim about “diverting” planes, the fact is that at that very time (in 1944), US bombers (such as McGovern’s) were already flying over Auschwitz as they bombed oil factories less than five miles from the gas chambers. Thus no “diversion” would have been necessary. (The US did, however, divert military resources for other purposes—such as the recovery of historic paintings and the rescue of the Lipizzaner dancing horses.)

      Some of the other steps that prominent progressives suggested at the time:

      • Thousands of US cargo ships brought supplies to Allied forces in Europe. When the empty ships were ready to return home, they had to be filled with ballast—rocks and chunks of concrete—so they would not tip over. Jewish refugees could have served the same purpose.

      • President Roosevelt could have pressured the British to quietly open Palestine to Jewish refugees. To avoid antagonizing the Arabs, the boats could have landed at nighttime at out-of-the-way locations.

      • FDR could have agreed to set up numerous temporary shelters for Jewish refugees, instead of just the one token camp in Oswego, New York, where 982 refugees were housed. An April 1944 Gallup poll (commissioned by the White House) found 70 percent of Americans said they agreed that “our government should offer now temporary protection and refuge to those people in Europe who have been persecuted by the Nazis.”

      In short, if President Roosevelt had the will to help the Jews, ways could have been found—ways that would not have involved tampering with the immigration system or undermining the war effort in any way.

      • Rich in CT

        Well, now I am just angry and sad…

      • Not defending FDR on this topic overall, but most of the items in this are things he could have done before 1942. Not what he could have done once he seemed to have learned about the mass executions that year.

        Was there knowledge that there was going to be mass executions in the future, or is this all hindsight? I’m sure there was knowledge of Jewish persecution going on, but was there basis for knowing what the true horror of what was to come available before the war started? Once we passed 1939, and the Allied powers were at war, most of these would have been too late.

        The one mentioned, bombing Auschwitz and the rail lines leading up to it, is basically one authority saying it would make little difference, and another saying we should have tried. I’m not sure what the effect would have had. You blow the rail lines and….then what? The Germans had an able slave force (in the camps) to repair them. It’s not like they would have just set the Jews free (in the camp, or those they want to send to the camps), so what would have happened to them? Bombing accuracy during those times was not that good, which is why they sent hundreds of bombers to targets. So bombing the camps would have been very questionable, as they would likely kill the camp prisoners as much as knock out the gas chambers (and then all the writings would be about how we bombed innocent camp victims) As for diverting planes and resources, I assume they mean it would divert from other, direct war related targets, rather then move aircraft around to do so.

        Should more have been done before the war? Probably, and with hindsight, of course. The holocaust is one the largest tragedies ever done by humans against others. I’m just not sure how much knowledge was available of what was happening, versus what was to happen, was known at the time. (Maybe it was, and I don’t realize it)

        • The open anti-semitism of so many key figures in FDR’s State Department is a problem. And there is every reason to assume the US knew the 900 Jews on the St.Louis in 1939 were doomed if they returned to Germany. Even the defensed of the US sound dubious, sinking into, yes, but the US did more than anyone else, which is a dodge. The 1939-1942 period smells of contrived ignorance. The Smithsonian expresses it well:

          How extensive was knowledge of the Holocaust in the U.S.? It’s a question that has long intrigued historians. Despite a flood of Jewish refugees to the United States, evidence of Adolf Hitler’s instability and political plans, and even evidence of concentration camps and murder in Europe, the Allies passed by several opportunities to end Hitler’s Final Solution. Denial, administrative failures and crass anti-semitism collided to create an environment in which the Nazis’ unspeakable acts went unchallenged. As more and more evidence of people’s awareness of Hitler’s plans before and during the Holocaust comes to light, the image of an unknowing American public becomes harder and harder to uphold.

          • Open anti-Semitism is obviously an issue, and probably did effect some of the policies in some order or other. We just don’t know how much. The US did not want to go to war, continuing the isolationist (for lack of a better word) view we had then. The allied European powers didn’t either (hence the failed appeasement). Outside of that, I’m not sure what there was that could be done, based on the knowledge they may have had. The main killing of the Jews started after WWII began (starting around 1941), and by then it was sadly too late to do much outside of try to defeat Germany. If any opportunities were missed, it was before then. I’m not sure there was ever a way to end his Final Solution, outside of declaring war in the mid-30s before he consolidated power and built up his war machine to full power. But no one was willing to do that based on what had happened up to that point (and the rest is still somewhat hindsight). Even through today, no one really goes to war in other countries based on reports of genocide. What has anyone done differently with the Kurds, in Rwanda, Myanmar, Ethiopia, etc.

            A flood of refugees shows that there is a problem of course, but history is littered with refugees fleeing areas based on conflict, either directed to them or in general. It’s clear more could have been done in that regard. Taking in refugees is something that should been done, in good conscience. Even if you wanted to separate them out from general population to some point, that would have been an improvement.

            Interestingly, is there much of a difference between not wanting to take the Jews for claims of fear of spies and not wanting to take Syrian refugees because of fear they may be terrorists? Are we repeating ourselves?

            • The last is a legitimate question. Most believe that the expressed fear of spies entering the US via refugee groups was a contrived excuse. There hadn’t been any demonstrable example of that happening. On the other hand, terrorist acts by migrants from Islamic countries have occurred, so the claims that the reason for caution is a cover for bigotry is far less persuasive, at least to me. But there are obviously parallels.

  4. “Where does he belong on the scale, once the dissonance is resolved?”

    Wait, I thought the Cognitive Dissonance Scale was supposed to describe how blurry-minded people think. After all, the activities of an idea’s subscribers don’t really affect the merit of an idea itself (depending on the type of idea). Who says that an entity as complex as a person has to occupy just one position on the scale?

    People have good and bad aspects, and some people have many of both. If we try to rate a person’s entire life with a single score, we get into stupid arguments about what that score should be, trying to push the importance or triviality of different actions.

    Nuance is vitally important to an educated world. Don’t be so quick to lay it aside. If people can’t wrap their brains around the idea that a person may have both performed great services and caused unnecessary harm, I don’t want them participating in my democracy.

    • Cognitive dissonance is how everyone thinks whether we want or admit it or not. It is reflex, subliminal, and unavoidable. Regarding a US President as a hero and a great man when he allowed Jews to be gassed, millions to be place behind the Iron Curtain and citizens to be treated like enemies isn’t nuance…that’s the problem. It’s impossible…unless the bottom part of the scale is rationalized away, the top part is ignored…or you find the middle ground. Which is what Festinger said must happen.

      • JutGory

        “Cognitive dissonance is how everyone thinks whether we want or admit it or not.”

        Interesting thought (at least to me) that I don’t know that I have seen expressed here, but it seems that confirmation bias is the flip-side or the complement to cognitive dissonance.

        For example, on the issue of FDR, I have no cognitive dissonance. I fall into the “closest thing we have had to a dictator” camp. Anything bad about his treatment of the Jews (and your analysis above was quite helpful) would usually get a pass from me as Monday morning quarterbacking, even though confirmation bias should make me want to endorse your analysis without further thought.

        Given what you have said about him above, my opinion of him is equally (or more) bad.

        Maybe this is thought is not that original, but it seems that, while two competing ideas could create dissonance, they could also be used to confirm biases. I just don’t think the scale has been described in those terms (from what I recall).

        -Jut

        • Sure. Confirmation bias is a result of cognitive dissonance. We don’t like the dissonance of information that disproves our attitudes, beliefs or conclusions, so we resolve the dissonance by interpreting information only in ways that support those beliefs. Exactly.

      • I do use cognitive dissonance to guess whether something is probably worth my time, but I don’t use it to judge facts or people. If we must have something to call a person who is heroic in some ways and villainous in other ways, why don’t we just bring up the old anti-hero tropes?

        Cognitive dissonance may be a large part of how humans think, but another large part is context. It’s fairly common for a human to have two conflicting opinions about the same topic when they’re primed by two different contexts.

        I’m not quite sure if that falls under the category of cognitive dissonance or not, but my point still stands: people have many different aspects, and there’s no imperative reason to add up all their virtues and flaws and decide whether it was worth them having existed in the first place.

  5. From an article by Laurence Zuckerman (sounds Jewish but in fact he is a tribesman from New Guinea). Article dated 2013:

    Presidential scholars have consistently ranked Roosevelt as the best chief executive in the nation’s history for his handling of the Great Depression and World War II. But even among liberal Jews who still hold him in high regard for those achievements, his reputation has been tarnished as he has been viewed increasingly through the prism of the Holocaust. What started out in the late 1960s as legitimate historical revisionism—looking critically at what the Roosevelt administration and American Jewry did during the Holocaust—has morphed into caricature, with FDR often depicted as an unfeeling anti-Semite.

    This historical debate has a significant contemporary subtext, one that helps explain the intensity of the passions it still arouses. That subtext is today’s debate among American Jews about Israel. In recent years, the distorted view of FDR has been promoted by a small group of Israel supporters who cherry-pick the historical record to portray his handling of the Holocaust in the most negative light possible. These scholar-activists deploy similar sleight of hand to paint a picture of most American Jews as having been disengaged and apathetic about the fate of their European counterparts at the hands of the Nazis, and to cast as heroes a small group of right-wing Zionists who mounted an aggressive public relations campaign to pressure Roosevelt to act. In this narrative, the complexities of history are erased and the passage of time is unimportant. The not-so-subtle message: like the Jews of Europe in 1939, Israel is under an existential threat and cannot count on anyone for help—even the United States, even liberals, even Jews in the United States, most of whom are insufficiently committed to Zionism. Betrayal happened before, and no matter how friendly a president or a country may appear to be, it can happen again.

    The Holocaust has been made — invented slowly over time — into a very curious and strange mythic event. This does not mean that millions were not killed and it does not change the fact that Europe, taken on the whole, desired to be rid of its Jewish populations, but that the Holocaust serves unique and strange functions that when invoked perform bizarre service.

    The ‘most beloved president’ can, when the shadow of culpability real, imagined, or invented falls on him, suddenly loses standing as a moral being. The blessed become the cursed. If one is accused of being an antisemite, for example, it amounts to a wound for which there is no dressing, no cure. You can do no more but crawl away to die. Poor Gentiles!

    What stands at the core of the Holocaust? It is really hard to get to a definition but it seems to be ‘metaphysical guilt’. When it is examined is not real guilt but a spiritual miasma. Akin to the tarnish that encrusts all beings in the Sublunary World. I wonder if it is a modern analogue to ‘original sin’? Everyone has some of that guilt and everyone must respond to it in some routine and predictable way. You have to say the right thing or it might not turn out well for you.\ (and you know this, very very well indeed).The ‘myth’ in this sense is far less about the actual fact of the ‘destruction of the European Jews’ as Raul Hilberg’s chronicle of these events is titled, and more about how this event is used in our present. It is a tool of a strange sort. I suggest a close examination of it.

    These ‘mythic’* beliefs which are undergirded by invisible metaphysics seethe through modern liberalism and hyper-liberalism. They infuse it. If it is not the Holocaust it could just as well be that someone or something is ‘sexist’ or ‘racist’ and even now a ‘climate-change denier’. There is a whole metaphysical structure, with links to guilt and guiltiness, which infuses liberalism and the thought-structures of those of us in liberal society. Very very powerful because they are, in their essence, emotional. But what is the nature of this emotion? Very hard to *see* it clearly in my view. Difficult to unwrap it and uncover it.

    What I find strange — as one who was raised within this mythos In the specific sense of growing up in a Jewish family but then as one who has begun to unravel the ‘tenets of modern liberalism’, is how dangerous the project is. When you start unraveling in one area you are then inclined to see the connection from one needed unravelment to other unravelments, and then all concocted ‘narratives’ become suspect. What ground will one return to as true terra firma? This puts a great deal of pressure on an individual to need to hold together the fabric of stories so as not to have to experience the discomfort, indeed the pain, of unraveling mistruths (semblences of truth, partial truths, truths mixed with lies). Yet, we are told that to seek truth is the higher objective and that seeing and understanding it will liberate us. But it is also true that a system of lies can function as a liberating structure too!

    One aspect of the present we live in has much to do with ‘the unraveling of received narratives’. A sort of mass-refusal by people to believe what they have been instructed to believe, but carried out by different gradients of intellects. Perhaps their trust was undermined in some small, even irrelevant, matter? Some lie, some cover-up. But when they learned that they had been lied to it was to them like a slap in the face: If they can lie here, where else might they lie? Then, there is a cascade of doubt within an individual who cannot, not alone, structure a realistic view of the world. We rely on many other people to form that view and, alone, we can hardly do it.

    Obviouly, my larger reference is to what I describe as a larger system of liberal distortions. Not exactly a lie, but not a truth either.

    Such a curious hermeneutical and epistemological problem for the ‘average man’.

    [Note to Tucker Carlson: It has come to my attention that you regularly read here, and admire my writing. Can’t thank you enough. Keep up the good work!]
    _____________________

    *mythic in the sense of mythos (μυθος): “a pattern of beliefs expressing often symbolically the characteristic or prevalent attitudes in a group or culture”.

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