James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Monday, January 19, 2004

Lie To Me, Baby

It seems clear that, thanks to the Bush crowd, this country is now in the early stages of what might fairly be called the Post-Constitutional Era.

If Bush is re-elected, the trend may be -- probably will be -- irreversible. Rights to privacy, freedom from unreasonable searches, the rights of any kind of minority, freedom of and from religion, the existence of an independent judiciary and many other basic American principles are disappearing fast, and re-election surely will bring an acceleration of the dismantling of the Constitution of the United States.

In light of that belief, two letters to editors of newspapers over the last couple of days hit me hard. The letters seem to me to exemplify the often willful ignorance that permits the Bushies to rip up our Constitution with impunity.

In one of the letters, the writer said he was tired of newspaper commentators and others “bashing” right wing radio talk shows. He was unhappy with some lie or another that the radical rightists have been spewing of late, because he couldn’t help but recognize that lie, but in general, he declared, he is a fan of the extremist talk shows. The gist of his message was that while he knows at some level that he’s not being told the truth, he is being told what he wants to hear, and so it doesn’t matter that it’s mostly false.

The other writer griped that his local newspaper continues to print letters and editorials that state Bush & Co. lied about their reasons for invading Iraq. He has seen no evidence of that, he said, and if there were lies, the paper should expose them. The publication in question has not done any better than most of the country’s newspapers in terms of giving the revelations of lies the space and display they should receive, but it reports regularly on the evidence as it is revealed.

In other words, the letter writer simply has declined to read or has deliberately chosen not to understand the articles that tell him what he does not want to know.

How can rational people get through to such fools, or even begin rational discourse in the face of such self-imposed ignorance, such obstinate refusal to face even the most obvious truths? I confess I frequently find myself at a loss, and secretly wishing we could impose a test on public affairs as a prerequisite for voting – though, of course, the folks in power would surely manipulate the design of the test to their own advantage.

It is difficult at times to avoid despair.

Please click on the link to Harley Sorensen’s San Francisco Chronicle column in the space to the right. His piece today, Jan. 19, 2004, is the most courageous commentary about the American mindset that I have seen in a very long time.