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Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Logical Conclusion

Elizabeth Kolbert's short article "How Can Americans Trust Donald Trump" in the New Yorker struck me with her incredulous tone. It's as if the more he lies the more people believe him with more certainty and fervor. She is not alone. I've seen this incredulous tone many time from many writers in the mainstream media.

When I first moved to this country almost 24 years ago, I knew nothing about it, except a few pieces of American pop culture that had been deemed culturally clean and "healthy" enough to be imported into China: The Carpenters, the movie "Love Story," and a few country songs. It took me a very long time to pick up things from incessant consumption of television (especially Law and Order), radio in the car, and summer blockbuster movies. That was before the InterWeb became the black hole that sucked everyone in.  

During college, in the late nights driving home from my intern pharmacy shifts, I caught Rush Limbaugh on the radio and some guy called Lyndon Larouche. It was not very interesting and I paid them little attention. I had no idea what it was all about.

After I graduated from university, on my first job as an editor at a biomedical journal, one of my colleagues, a copyeditor, told me some weird things that I had never heard on the radio or read in newspapers --- outlandish stories about UN black helicopters, secret prisons, government conspiracies, and plans to enslave the American people. She had grown up in rural Maryland and all her friends were farm kids. They all believed these rumors. I had only heard vaguely about Ruby Ridge, Waco, and the Elio Gonzales affair, but never thought there was a vast conspiracy behind all of them. But she made it all sound so real.


Fortunately, I was not entirely naive. I grew up in China under constant but clumsy brainwashing efforts from kindergarten to adulthood. My father kind of transmitted his skepticism to me through osmosis --- or dinner table chatters. I can spot lies and the agenda behind them more quickly than the average person. 

And then 9/11 happened. Grand conspiracy theories began to balloon. It was in the early 2000s that I happened upon Fox News. It blew me away. How can such blatant propaganda be so popular? Ah yes, I can smell propaganda from a hundred miles away, even if this propaganda is slightly cleverer than the Chinese government's. Pure propaganda fueled by Capitalism in a model democracy. At that time, I was still pretty ignorant of the real history of politics, but soon the tactics of Karl Rove, Roger Ailes, and the Bush Administration led to the Iraq War in 2003. All of these phenomena began to make sense. Lies are necessary. Lies are what the people want. 

It was all downhill from there. The neo-conservative movement gave way to Tea Party in 2008. The fire of propaganda do not even need Rupert Murdoch's money for fuel. The cycle of lies has become self-perpetuating as it engulfs half of the country. Why do liberal intellectuals act surprised and puzzled now at Trump? Where have they been all these yearrs? The people are not hearing these lies for the first time from his lips. He is confirming the lies they have heard a thousand times before on the radio and TV. He isn't creative enough to come up with most of them but rather following the scripts. Of course the people would believe him. He is simply the logical conclusion of two decades of the right wing propaganda machine.

After all these years, the pervasive, toxic, ubiquitous culture of lies has finally reached a climactic shriek. We are drowning in a foaming sea of lies churned by the gleeful embrace of lies. The automatic feeding tube is pumping endless lies until we all choke. Just like global warming, the tide of lies is no longer stoppable and the world has to continue the accelerating downward slide to its inevitable rock bottom. 

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