Friday, December 16, 2005


So Bush is merely continuing the longtime conservative gambit of making sure that facts are treated as opinions. Because they know that fair-minded people will then feel compelled to “look at both sides.” That’s what’s happening in the evolution vs. “intelligent design” debate. And the “look at both sides” argument is even being used by intelligent design proponents as a reason to “study” intelligent design. Their argument is “well, no one really knows for sure whether evolution or intelligent design is a fact, so it behooves us to teach and study both theories.”

They’ve done it with global warming. Objective science has existed for a while now that makes a clear case that global warming is in fact taking place. So the conservatives have some of their think tanks do a “study” that arrives at the opposite conclusion and use their control of the mainstream media to inject that conclusion into the public debate. And then fair-minded people feel compelled to “look at both sides.”

This obfuscation has gotten to the point where people that I know personally have said that they don’t even read anything about politics anymore because they know that both sides are defended by people with hidden agendas and inappropriate biases. And that’s what the conservatives want, because then they are able to take advantage of this confusion and appeal to people through religion, xenophobia, nationalism, and the like–appeals which have no rational basis.

And liberals still insist on trying to deal with issues on a rational basis, as they ideally should. But the conservatives have been far too successful in calling objective facts into question, and so people have become convinced that there is no objective reality and therefore support and vote for candidates who give lip service to their pet religious and nationalistic issues that have been merely a matter of personal preference from time immemorial.

So how do you convince people of the truth of something if they believe that there is no objective reality? That is the critical question facing progressives and other keepers of the democratic flame. We can fact-filled, footnoted, exquisitely sourced blogs, books, and letters all day long but they can still be dismissed easily as being "biased" simply because they only support "one side" even if that side happens to be the truth. And that is because Bush and familiars in the media say things like the pre-Iraq war intel was "wrong," even though it was unquestionably right.

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