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Finding Truth In The Disinformation Age. June 5, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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14 comments

These days I rarely blog about “politics and society,” as so many others do it so much better.

But I’m presently engaged in a “bridge building project” which has me digging pretty deeply to find Common Ground on which to build.

Because you know, if you start building a bridge from two shores in different universes, they ain’t gonna meet on this Earth.

If you’re among the handful of folks who regularly read this blog (and you are, aren’tcha?) you know that I’m trying to engage the Anti Anti-War-Protest Protesters who spend a part of their Saturday standing in front of a bank (symbolism, mayhaps?) across the street from the Greenfield Town Common, where an anti-war “peace vigil” has held sway for something like the last six years.

And while I’m ideologically aligned with the Peace People, I’m spending my Saturday mornings in front of the bank, trying to get to know the folks who believe differently than I do, trying to understand their positions, trying to ascertain why they believe what they believe.

And it’s a real trial not getting my skivvies in a bunch, trying to stay calm and open, to fish for Common Waters rather than jumping on everything that’s said which sounds absurd to me.

This, I think, is important: the desire for commonality, the vision of our shared interests in the face of a civilizational structure which treats both Us and Them as grist for the mill of Corporate wealth aggregation, which needs to keep us divided lest we ever vote in our common self-interests.

But I struggle when I’m confronted with Good Americans who consistently vote against their own self-interests, your interests, my interests, my children’s interests because they’re operating in a paradigm informed by the disinformation of the spineless and complicit Main Stream Media and the intentional misinformation of “news outlets” like Fox News Network.

As an example of this, I recently cited an assertion from R, the on-sight organizer of the pro-war protesters (for lack of another simple explanation of their intent) that US Forces had found over fifty of Saddam’s nuclear weapons in Iraq.

This past weekend I sought a clarification, and he did indeed correct me – he had said, or meant to say, “over five hundred…”

Um… OK.

But since nobody in their right mind would make this shit up, I asked him for a source, so, you know, I could learn about it first-hand. Because I’m a Primary-Source kinda guy.

So he suggested that I just Google “Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq,” and the Truth would be right there in black and white.

On the second or third page of Google-search results.

So, you know, I did.

And indeed I found what he had pointed me at, at the bottom of page fifteen, the hundred and fiftieth entry in a list composed of the thoughts and knowledge of many experts on the subjects and some pundits of either ideological persuasion, with the experts UNANIMOUSLY coming to the conclusion that there were no currently usable chemical or biological weapons in Iraq,

And not a HINT that Saddam had or had ever had nuclear weapons, or anything even close.

Yet there was Google Result #150, a YouTubed clip of the illustrious Rick Santorum, R. Pennsylvania, reading cherry-picked excerpts from a 2006 report which described Hussein’s degraded and ineffectual arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, abandoned in the desert and hastily buried in pits as the Iraqi army retreated in the face of Iranian forces in the late 1980s.

Now I know some of you are doubtless laughing hysterically at the mention of Rick Santorum’s name, he being long-since exposed and dismissed as being a Captain of Douche-Baggery, a pariah even to the Republican Party hard-liners because every time he opened his mouth a stream of indefensible intellectual diarrhea poured out. Let’s agree to leave the Poisoning of The Well to those of the Rovian persuasion and cut to the chase of Information v. Disinformation, shall we?

The question in my mind is, why would ANYBODY of reasonable intelligence bypass, overlook, ignore the writings and opinions of government panels, United Nations weapons inspectors, the Pentagon, the Defense Department, the State Department, expert witnesses and on-the-ground investigators, to settle on and cling to a contrary opinion voiced by an ill-informed Politician, for God’s sake, reading snippets of Old News cherry-picked from a voluminous document of public record which flatly contradicted his very public conclusions?

And how could anybody ignore or discount the same-day rebuttals and refutations which were generated by Senator Santorum’s ill-advised grasping at the proverbial straws, the same ones which would shortly break his political back:

I’ll tell you how.

It’s a kind of intellectual “fundamentalism” akin to the type which prompts Radical Islamists to pick through their Koran looking for reasons to kill Americans, or allows “Christian” Fundamentalists to discriminate against gays and lesbians based on a couple of sentences in the Old Testament which were thereafter repudiated by Jesus of Nazareth.

It strikes me as nothing less than sad that, two years after this garbage was debunked and buried by thinking people of all persuasions, there are still a significant number of Americans who anchor their fears and hatred in this cesspool of desperate ignorance.

Stupidity is genetic, and despite its ugliness, ought to be understood as an involuntary condition, the victims of which must be held blameless for their cerebral inabilities.

But ignorance is a state of mind which can be remedied by a liberal application of facts and information, and ought not to be accepted by society as an immutable condition, or held harmless for the suffering it causes both its practitioners and the people whose lives they affect.

And willful ignorance is an insult to any God who claims to be merciful and just, and an affront to a Civil Society which depends on its People to direct its course.

I don’t stand for an imposition of beliefs, but rather for a sharing of knowledge in service of bettering the world in which we live. And I’ll stand for it as long as I breathe.

Teach me, people.

But don’t bullshit me.

“Democracy without information creates the illusion of popular control while actually enhancing the power of the privileged…” – Bill Moyers