Barry’s Blog # 251: False Equivalencies, Part Eight of Eight

Look, I won’t deny my strong opinions, and I invite conversations that don’t descend into ridicule. But I’ve only been focusing on vaccination because it’s so critical to understand how many progressives are allowing themselves to be diverted from important issues. “Russiagate” does exactly that. Here is the liberal logic:

A – The conventional wisdom is that the Russians hacked the 2016 election.

B – Trump says there was no collusion, etc.

C – Trump is bad.

D – Leftists assert that Trump won because of apathy, gerrymandering and voter suppression.

E – Therefore, leftists are all dupes of Putin, as bad as Trump.

When we stop questioning why liberals are allowed to marginalize leftists, it becomes easy to accept this drivel, from the WAPO: Poll: 60 percent disapprove of Trump, while clear majorities back Mueller and Sessions.

Now, not only are we happily hating on Trump, but we find a new meme injected into our spinning heads: the alleged savior, Mueller, is on the same side as the fascist Jeff Sessions, and we barely noticed.

Here’s a right-wing FE. This one requires cognitive dissonance:

A – Communists are bad and un-American.

B – Russia was communist.

C – Russia became capitalist 27 years ago.

D – Putin is bad.

E – Putin is Russian.

F – Therefore Putin is communist.

G – To believe F, one must ignore C (this is cognitive dissonance).

super-communist

But my concerns go very far beyond this one issue. I am talking about a post-9/11 era in which our freedoms, including freedom of privacy and freedom of choice, have been disappearing gradually and almost without our notice. It is only our bred-in-the-bones sense of innocence that keeps us from noticing that the pot is boiling, that we are all being cooked; it is only our constantly manipulated fear of the Other that can still, reliably, distract us from far more important issues.

Both the left and the right (at least those with stock in Big Pharma) are probably already celebrating the gathering momentum to mandate vaccinations for all Americans, young or old. Perhaps you agree. But please spare me your argument about “personal freedoms” in which you compare “anti-vaxxers” to people who would ignore traffic signals and endanger everyone else in their community in their libertarian selfishness. Because I will respond: any way you parse it, in our quickening slide toward American Fascism, you are condoning yet another loss of freedom in yet another dispute where all of the money is on one side of the issue. Cui bono?

Let me repeat that: all of the money is on one side of the issue.

Think about it. Consider the significant political debates in our lifetimes or anyone else’s. Every single time – with the sole exception of the fight to unionize – the vast majority of money spent has been by the military-industrial complex, the churches, the lobbyists, the corporations seeking deregulation, the AMA, the NRA, Big Agriculture, Big Lumber, Big Mining, Big Chemical, Big Tobacco, Big Banks, Big Auto, Big Cancer Research, Big Oil, Big Fracking, Big Coal, Big Soda, Big Voter Suppression, Big Internet, Private Prisons, the anti-immigration industry. Even the “family values” debates: it was and remains the ultra-rich who have subsidized the segregationists, the Tea Party, the anti-union, anti-birth control, anti-abortion, anti-medical marijuana and anti-gay marriage movements.

All except for the vaccination dispute, which has a consumer protection movement begun by aggrieved parents and some libertarians on one side, and a trillion-dollar industry on the other hand, one that spends $150 million/year lobbying Congress and $5 billion/year on advertising, one that generates so much profit that it can annually absorb billion-dollar fines for corruption and bad science without scaring its stockholders.

And who supports this side? A legion of “Quackwatch”- type gatekeepers of dubious reputation and secretive funding – and a volunteer legion of Lefties armed with FEs. This includes the manager of KPFA, Berkeley’s Pacifica radio station, who last month abruptly cancelled the popular show “Guns and Butter” and deleted its sixteen years of archives. It also includes one of your and my favorite progressive commedians, John Oliver, using Trump himself as an example of a loony vaccine skeptic. Now that is professional FEing: Trump over there, along with those anti-vaxxers; us smart people over here.

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I hope you’ve noticed that I am not advocating anything but simply trying to put things in perspective. If I’ve raised any doubts in your mind – or perhaps more important, if I’ve provoked a strong negative response – I’m hoping that at least you’ll open some of the above links, as well as your mind. Though I welcome a good argument, I avoid ideological absolutes. That is a language to which I am trying to offer an alternative, the language of mythological thinking. I am not talking about compromise. I’m trying to move from a dualistic world of “two” (polar opposites, right or wrong) to a world of “three” – holding the tension of those opposites, resisting the temptation to resolve that tension by believing only one side until something greater – a third element – appears. This is the essence of the Creative Imagination.

But I can’t avoid this one: there is simply no political conflict in which progressives should find themselves aligned so indisputably, so arrogantly, so unconsciously with the interests of Big Business, and indeed of one of the most corrupt of them all, Big Pharma. Forgive me, but I have to say this a third time: all of the money is on one side of the issue.

And let me say this again as well: it’s not about a war on science. It’s about how science is the religion of the secular world. It’s about becoming conscious of how late capitalism and the pathological drive for profits has so corrupted science that it would collude in poisoning three generations of children. It’s about the myth of the killing of the children. It’s about no longer referring to scientists as arbiters until they clean up their act and regain our trust. I’m talking about science that can prove it isn’t bought up by Big Business, science that can be replicated regularly.

This permission to demonize from the left may well be one of the greatest scams of all. They’ve got some of us shilling for them, on a very slippery slope. They’ve turned some us into FOX wannabes, more and more comfortable with their nasty, divisive language. And when we start using their language we are no longer speaking from our creative imagination, but from our paranoid imagination.

The present hysteria (whatever it is as you read this) will end soon, because they all do. That is the most characteristic aspect of our American predisposition to fall from fear into crusades. It’s not about the fear-du-jour; it’s about our willingness to go there.

Once the legislation mandating universal vaccination becomes law, will you or I be able to save ourselves (as at Salem, as during the Red Scare, as during McCarthyism and the bogus “war on terror,” as during the Mueller probe) by naming names? You can count on this: the next hysteria is already planned, and those who will profit from it expect to count on some of us to use false equivalencies in the service of marginalizing alternative thinking. When the call to join the next witch-hunt is sounded, will you have your pitchfork and torch ready?

 

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