Joseph Keeble: Road to tyranny: hostility toward verifiable facts |

Joseph Keeble: Road to tyranny: hostility toward verifiable facts

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. “Truth“” is “a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true.”

“True” is defined as “in accordance with fact or reality.”

Our legal system bases innocence or guilt on a preponderance of fact beyond a reasonable doubt. Scientific observations and conclusions are based on a preponderance of fact that has been replicated and validated.

However, we now live in an age of contradictions where what is true or not often comes into question, not because the facts are wrong, facts are facts after all, but because some people want to hide the truth. Our media system has become rife with talk shows, websites, social media campaigns and “fake news” outlets whose purpose is to blur, not present facts. A person cannot reconcile events or make informed decisions if there is no standard of truth, no bottom line by which to make comparisons. It becomes difficult to ascertain what is fiction and what is not.

A person cannot reconcile events or make informed decisions if there is no standard of truth, no bottom line by which to make comparisons.

Public discourse becomes theater; a “he said/she said” reality TV show. Determinations of truth are based on ideology rather than facts. The truth becomes what people want to believe. The truth becomes what people who want to hide the truth want you to believe.

Historians who have studied the Bolshevik take over of Russia, the Fascists in Italy, and the Nazis in Germany have noted that one of the first institutions to be compromised on the road to tyranny was the truth. Holocaust historian, Timothy Snyder, from Yale, wrote, “You submit to tyranny when you renounce the difference between what you want to hear and what is actually the case.” It begins with an open hostility toward verifiable facts because facts disprove lies. Facts are replaced with distortions and total fabrications which are presented and passed on as if they were facts.

Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Donald Trump has lied to the American people hundreds of documented times on everything from how many people attended his inauguration to climate change to Russian involvement in the election and his campaign’s collusion with them. According to nonpartisan fact checkers, on the campaign trail, he only told the whole truth and nothing but the truth 4 percent of the time.

After investigating the DNC hacking our entire intelligence community agreed, the Russians, did in fact, try to influence the election in Trump’s favor. But Trump continued to try and discredit those facts and the agencies who discovered them by calling them lies, fake news and a witch hunt. While in Hamburg for the G-20 meetings, Trump again tried to cast doubt on our intelligence community by repeating his mantra that the election hackers could have been the Russians or someone else (he has previously implicated a 400-pound guy sitting on a bed), but he doesn’t know for sure.

The New York Times has now reported that Donnie Jr., then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner met with a Russian agent seeking damaging information about Hillary Clinton. They were aware that the information came from Russian intelligence gathering operations designed to help elect Trump, but instead of calling the FBI, they met with the Russians.

The campaign manager, son, and son-in-law of the Republican candidate for president of the United States were conspiring with an avowed foreign enemy to try and sway the election. “Collusion” is defined as, “secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, esp. in order to cheat or deceive others.”

“Treason” is defined as “the crime of betraying one’s country.”

Journalism’s function is to act as an independent check on governmental power; the public’s source for truth. Donald Trump calls the free press “enemies of the American people.” Joseph Stalin also called those who disagreed with him “enemies of the people.” The free press is not the enemy of the American people, it is the enemy of Donald Trump because it’s trying to uncover the ugly truth.

There are too many unanswered questions, too many unresolved ethical issues, and too many falsehoods and contradictions that have been dismissed as partisan attacks, fake news, or lies. There have been too many dubious connections between former and current campaign and administration officials and Russian government agents and bankers.

Something is very wrong here and Americans have a right to know. Instead of “give Trump a chance” we need to give truth a chance … while we still can.

Joseph Keeble lives in Nevada City.

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