Thursday, July 6, 2017

The War on Empirical Reality

A new war has been initiated.  It is one of the most dangerous wars ever waged.  It is a war to overthrow empirical reality.  The word, “empirical,” means:  “originating in or based on observation or experience—empirical data.”  This war is being fought right now and right here in the United States of America.  It is being waged against those who accept empirical reality by those who resist and reject it.  The new weapon in this war is the term “fake news” which is being used to shoot down the empirical reality forces.

This war is akin to the so-called “War on Christmas” which occurs, like an annual ritual, every December.  Henry Ford was a proponent of the idea that someone was waging a war on Christmas back in the early 20th century.  He blamed the Jews without having any empirical data to prove his point other than his own anti-Semitic stance. In 1959 the far-right John Birch Society entered the battle, alerting the nation of an “assault on Christmas” by United Nations fanatics. These fanatics, according to the John Birch Society, want “the country to utilize UN symbols and emblems as Christmas decorations.”  Far out?  You betcha!  It was totally untrue—having no empirical reality. Yet, the war on Christmas has continued, notably in recent years by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who first aired a segment on “Christmas Under Siege.”  “All over the country,” O’Reilly railed, “Christmas is taking flak…”  Liberals (or in O’Reilly’s words, “secular progressives”) are attempting to destroy Christmas with their “holiday trees” and “happy holiday” greetings.  Pat Buchanan couldn’t resist the limelight and declared that the people in “the world out there” were committing “hate crimes against Christianity.”  Sarah Palin joined the battle, promoting her book, Good Tidings and Great Joy:  Protecting the Heart of Christmas, in which she declared that atheists and liberals (who according to Palin, are interchangeable) were seeking to destroy Christmas. Mr. O’Reilly announced that major corporations were ordering their employees not to say “Merry Christmas,” a false statement, but one that resonated, creating in the minds of many an alternative reality.  

George Orwell wrote that “to see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle,”  for we are easily misled.  We can, by “impudently twisting the facts,” convince ourselves of “things which we know to be untrue.” A whole society, Orwell said, can deceive itself “for an indefinite time,” and the only check on that mass delusion is that “sooner or later a false belief bumps up against a solid and empirical reality.”  There is a reality and there is (according to some) an alternative reality.  One is based on empirical data; the other is based on lies and the twisting of facts or the ignoring of facts.  Lincoln’s words from the Gettysburg Address apply, “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any other nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”  If you have persisted in reading this all the way through, let me wish you and yours an early “Merry Christmas.”

War is tragic, no matter the form it may take..

No comments:

Post a Comment