I’ve seen President Trump talk about the terrible things that happened in Sweden on Friday night. I’ve seen a video from… Sweden…? Some Swedish government agency…? that reiterated that nothing of much import happened in Sweden. I’ve seen people sharing articles about riots that took place in Rinkeby. And I’ve got to be honest.
I don’t who to believe.
In fact, I believe none of them. I refuse to form any sort of understanding on what may or may not be happening in Sweden, because everyone involved has a vested interest in lying to me. I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember reading from a reputable source that police agencies in <some European country> were told to downplay crimes committed by refugees. I also know that Trump and his ilk have a really, really bad habit of blowing everything out of proportion, inflating numbers, and telling outright lies. Everyone is telling a bit of truth, and everyone is burying the truth. So it’s impossible to figure out what is actually true.
It’s not a subject I talk about much because there’s no need to get involved in the controversy, but the Holocaust suffers from the same problem: what actually happened is now forever lost to history. We do know that much of what we were told during the 30s and 40s about Nazi Germany was exaggerated by, yes, Jewish-owned media outlets who were using propaganda to incite the American People into entering the war. See? I can hardly even make that statement without risking being called anti-Semitic. But that Jews controlled most of the media then is a matter of record. While he was certainly no bastion of reliability himself, the problem was notable enough that Charles Lindbergh stood in Congress and spoke about how the media was using propaganda to stir us into entering the war.
Whatever did happen was indisputably terrible and unforgivable, but we do know that much of what we were told was greatly exaggerated, and much of it was blatantly false. For example, claims of the Nazi soldiers incinerating bodies by the dozen in mere minutes are obviously false, yet these provably false statements were admitted as evidence and have entered the official zeitgeist of what happened during the Holocaust. Even though it takes modern crematoria more than two hours to incinerate a single body, and even though this involves crushing the bones–which was never mentioned in any of the testimony–the overwhelming majority of people today simply accept it as fact that the Nazis incinerated bodies by the hundreds.
I’m not making any case for or against anything. I’m just pointing out that the tendency of people to exaggerate to further their political ends has resulted in a situation where all sides are filled with liars and con artists, and the long-run result of that is that whatever “truth” might once have existed is now simply a matter of which side of the argument you fall on. I’ve no doubt that anyone who would instantly reject any talk of Holocaust Denial–which I’m not doing–will probably have stopped reading during the preceding paragraph, called me anti-Semitic, and completely ignored the point. This is because they have fallen on that side of the issue, and it has no tolerance for the arguments of the other side.
It refuses to hear, and so it can’t listen.
Does Sweden have some kind of issue with immigration? I have no idea. It would seem that they do have some sort of problem–everything isn’t great, at least. Is Trump pulling more “alternative facts” out of his ass? I have no idea. Based on his history, I would say “Probably.” Is there an element of truth in both statements? Yes, without doubt. Will one side acknowledge the element of truth in the other side’s statements?
Not before Hell freezes over.
Global Warming faces the same politicization. We know for a fact–thanks to hacked and leaked emails that appeared around 2007*–that the leading scientists who were arguing that man-made global warming was real doctored evidence, concealed evidence, and cherry-picked their data so that their report was colored by their political message. We also know that no amount of 114 degree temperatures in August will cause Climate Change Deniers to say there might be something to it, not as long as one random day throughout the year is unusually cool.
If a person begins from a neutral position and simply follows the evidence to determine what is up with the Holocaust, the Trump/Sweden thing, and global warming, they will end up running in circles and ultimately declaring, “I don’t know. It’s impossible to know. Everyone is lying, and everyone is manipulating the truth to say what they want it to say.”
Over the weekend, some altercation happened at the Students For Liberty Conference when an alt-right dude Something Spencer showed up and set up a booth pretending to be part of the conference. What happened next? Well, Spencer says that he was threatened and forced to leave. Libertarians say that Spencer requested that security escort him out, and that he left of his own accord. Jeffrey Tucker may or may not have been drunk and may or may not have shouted at Spencer. I wasn’t there, and only about 300 people were, so I can’t say what happened.
People who I generally find reliable, like Will Coley, insist that Spencer left of his own accord. However, his posts about it contain comments from people who dispute that account, and who say that Spencer was forced to leave because the crowd was turning violent. Others have said that everyone ultimately had to leave, including Students For Liberty.
Recently, some Conservative group uninvited Milo Yuanwhateverus from speaking at their event. They say that it’s because Milo made comments that condoned pedophilia**. Not being a Milo fan, I only know his reply secondhand, but it was basically something like “No, that’s not at all what I said. They edited the videos to make it appear that way.” Then someone posted the full video unedited. Did Milo condone teen-adult relationships? I don’t know or really care; this is just another example of how truth gets shoved through the meat grinder because everyone is just trying to push an agenda, and will pick and choose parts of the truth that further it while denying or burying the parts that don’t.
Trump said while talking to a reporter that women “let” him do whatever he wants because he’s rich and famous. People took this and ran with it, coming up with the certifiably insane idea that Trump was bragging about sexual assault. I’ve tried, and I can attest: absolutely nothing that you can say to these people will convince them otherwise. Pointing out what the meaning of the word “let” is? It’s a No Sale. They have that in their heads, and that’s just what they’re going to believe. Use an example about how “letting” your nephew play with your pet cat isn’t forcing your nephew to play with your pet cat? They genuinely don’t understand what relevance that has.
But it’s not just the left, obviously–I’ve criticized the right just as much here.
It’s fucking maddening.
Everything gets exaggerated to reductio ad absurdum degrees, but the people exaggerating absolutely refuse to admit that they’re blowing things way out of proportion and are engaging in hyperbole. “Scientific fact” has become both meaningless and a holy grail, thanks to one segment of the population that unwisely believes anything a scientist says is absolutely reliable, and the other segment of the population that simply cherry-picks. The first segment, of course, hides from the science they don’t like–like the measurable differences in athleticism and education between races and genders–and refuse to admit that such scientific facts even exist. The second segment will print out and piss on a paper about climate change but will decide scientists are great if a report comes out that they like.
I just… I really wish people would stop exaggerating and stop lying.
I can already hear the mainstream responses to that.
Conservatives: “Damn straight! Tell them damned liberals to stop exaggerating and lying!”
Liberals: “Yes, please! All conservatives do is exaggerate and lie!”
Because of this, truth just gets eviscerated and swept under the rug, forever lost and with no way to ever recover it. It is impossible now to determine what actually happened during the Holocaust, whether Hitler actually intended to exterminate or move the Jews, whether the Jewish murders were planned or incidental, or anything else. We are doing a great disservice to posterity, who will one day look back on our mess and shrug before saying, “I don’t know. They’re all liars and exaggerators.”
* “The gist” of all this stuff gets logged in my memory, though the details rarely do.
** Widespread acceptance of hyperbole is another serious issue. What Milo is accused of condoning are relationships between teens and adults, not kids and adults. As far as I’m aware, there isn’t a -philia label for this, but there actually is a pretty major difference between being attracted to a pre-puberty kid and a post-puberty teenager. I’m condoning neither, but don’t pretend like they’re the same thing.