23 Apr. 2007

Complicity Is Easy When The Truth Is Too Hard

For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know.. it — now."
- Patrick Henry, 1775
What about YOU, gentle reader? Can YOU handle the truth, "whatever anguish of spirit it might cost"? Or do you only tolerate a certain level of truth, enough to make you feel "in touch with reality" but not enough to violently disturb your sleep?

At I.C.H. today, Donna J. Thorne curses the continued apathy, bitterness and "eery silence" of Mainstream America:
Why,when confronted with a black-and-white record of autocratic offenses, are so many sensible Americans ignoring and even endorsing the current administration as it openly paves a tyrannical road to hell? Are we so deluded by rhetoric and weapons-grade propaganda, that we are no longer able to distinguish truth from fiction, thereby allowing, if not abetting our own enslavement ?
I think the problem comes down to self-censorship. Many would agree that the mainstream media currently has a major problem with self-censorship, but I think this problem extends right through supposedly "progressive" sites and publications, all the way down to anti-war blogs.

For example, here's an AAP report about Condi Rice gleefully telling the world that Alexander Downer is "fun to be around":
The praise comes as Australia remains steadfast in its commitment to the Iraq war despite the war having killed about 60,000 civilians according to the website Iraq Body Count.

Prime Minister John Howard has so far refused to consider an exit strategy from Iraq despite major coalition partners like Britain preparing to draw down their forces.
OK, so they take the bold step of saying that Howard has "refused to consider an exit strategy from Iraq". Bravo, well said. But why are they still using the Iraq Body Count figure of 60,000 dead, rather than the figure of over 650,000 dead compiled by the Lancet study, which has even been endorsed by the the UK Ministry of Defense’s top scientist?

It's all about credibility, you see. If you say more than 650,000 people have been killed in Iraq since we invaded illegally four years ago, a lot of people will automatically dismiss your words as nonsense. It doesn't seem to matter whether or not the words are actually true.

The same thing applies to generally progressive websites. "Reputable" sites like HuffPo and Salon are loathe to publish or even link to articles like Donna J. Thorne's if they include text like this:
When confronted with hard facts and scientific evidence linking key government officials to the attacks of 9/11, ostensibly intelligent, levelheaded people angrily and defiantly reject said information without a moment's deliberation.
Tsk, tsk, girl! You should not even imply that US government officials were involved in the great tragedy of 9/11, if you want people to take you seriously. Sure, the neoconservatives wanted a massive "catalyzing event" which just happened to occur within a few months of them seizing power, but that's just a coincidence! And as we all know, BushWorld abounds in such coincidences. Sure, the 9/11 Commission was politically manipulated and left lots of major questions unanswered, but we have all moved on from that.

And of course, we all have to keep "moving on" from everything, don't we? Because that is the nature of the news cycle. So it is that major questions are left hanging in the air, major outrages are quickly forgotten, and true accountability is never delivered. And thus it is that certain very serious questions, like US government complicity in 9/11, tend to drift slowly into the lower echelons of media and social consciousness, till they become irrelevent, unmentionable, taboos.

Sadly, this same attitude of self-censorship also applies to many bloggers. And again, perceived levels of credibility appear to be the culprit. Ambitious bloggers who want to be taken seriously (and maybe even make money) do not go where even the media fears to tread. And that is a real tragedy, because the great thing about blogging is that you CAN go where the media fears to tread. In fact, you probably should! Surely bloggers, of all people, should be prepared to pursue hard truths wherever they may lead?

Take the recent bombing of the Sarafiya bridge in Baghdad, for example. I have speculated on my Riding The Juggernaut blog that the USA might have been behind the apparently clinical destruction of this major Baghdad resource. And I have previously said that I think the USA was behind the bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque in Samarra.

Rupert Murdoch is never going to pay me to say such things, of course, and George Soros probably won't either. But who gives a shit? I am a blogger! I have a right to state my opinions, whatever they may be, and to argue them with all the facts available to me. And surely, if enough bloggers and other good people are prepared to keep chasing down hard truths, and expressing their outrage as vocally as they can, without needlessly censoring themselves to fit the status quo, surely then, one day, this disgraceful public "apathy, bitterness and eery silence" will come to an end?

The truth matters!
Descartes in his pyjamas famously wrote: "I think, therefore I am." We are forced to assume that our perception of reality, although necessarily subjective, is sufficient basis for further rationalisation. Otherwise, everything becomes absurd and nothing whatsoever will stand up to further analysis, logical inspection or reasoning. Consciously or otherwise, we all make such a leap of faith as the basis for our understanding of reality.

But how can we prove something is real, if another person says that it is not? My view of reality and your view of reality will necessarily differ from time to time. This difference is often demonstrated by reviewing the testimonies of witnesses to a car accident - although a dozen people may have seen the incident occur, all may have widely varying beliefs about what actually happened. A detective trying to ascertain what really happened needs to analyze all these viewpoints in relation to other solid facts that can be universally verified by all (the tyre marks on the road, the broken windscreen...). By such means, an objective version of reality can be reached, proven and generally agreed upon by all parties. The acknowledgement of such an objective reality is the basis of civil society.

I like to think that this all has something to do with the purpose of our lives here on earth...
Don't be afraid of the truth, folks. Only the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, will one day set us free.