Last Week Tonight with John Oliver returned for another season on HBO last Sunday and fans like me will tell you that it’s long overdue. Unfortunately, John is almost exclusively preaching to the choir and I fear that Red State, Middle America (the proud members of, “Trump Country”) will never get the message; nor will they bother to consider it if they happen upon it. Oliver can too easily be dismissed as just another “liberal” (to be said in a disparaging voice) who uses too many off-color jokes and too frequently curses. Granted, these same people managed to talk themselves into overlooking the President’s %^**#-grabbing, foul mouth and horrible behavior, but, as I’ve said before, people can talk themselves into anything. Lord knows that Trump certainly does.
The news and rumors coming out of the White House are disturbing enough – from the needless fear mongering and probably unConsitutional travel ban to the childish berating of Federal Judges and the entire Judiciary to the absurd talk of massive voter fraud on an impossible scale to the increasingly serious allegations of Russian collusion and the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn – but the heart of the matter goes much deeper than this and it is far more troubling. Based on the examples John Oliver gives and others you can easily find, I honestly think that Trump does not believe in truth. I’m not saying that he simply disagrees with me or you about the facts on this or that issue; I’m saying that he doesn’t understand what a fact actually is and he doesn’t care to. When you look to the National Enquirer, Breitbart, and InfoWars as credible sources. When you’ve had compulsive liar Roger Stone working for you. When you compliment the work being done by conspiracy supernut Alex Jones (who thinks Sandy Hook was a, “false flag,” performed by actors) and then you turn around and call nearly every major news outlet, “fake news,” because they’re not friendly to you, you’re a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic.
I know some of you voted for Trump because you hated Hillary or wanted a particular type of Supreme Court pick or wanted the repeal of Obamacare or any number of reasons, but I implore you to put that aside for a moment and think about the future of the country you love. Most of the hyperbolic rhetoric out there is ridiculous (e.g. “liberals are communists” and “conservatives are fascists”) but the dangers that the #NeverTrump Movement tried to warn you about are real! You’ve been had by this conman in the White House. I know it hurts to find out you are wrong and it’s much easier to avoid the possibility but facts are stubborn things and this needs to be said in no uncertain terms; you’re just wrong. The Donald does not deserve your support.
There I go again, preaching to the choir. I mean, honestly, is anyone who disagrees with me going to consider what I am saying? Is anyone open to being a convert? I doubt it, and yet I keep soldiering on, “fighting the good fight” (as I keep telling myself). Maybe the problem here is with people, in general, who seem to be driven more by their emotions than reason. Even if this is true, however, it still brings me back to the same point: How do you get through to them when they are wrong?
In more depressing news, yesterday, Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Robert De Niro held a press conference to push their anti-vaccination nonsense. These two men of the left, and very vocal Trump critic in De Niro’s case, nevertheless share this irrational belief with the new President, and they are all putting us in greater danger. Kennedy and De Niro have gone so far as to offer $100,000 to anyone who can prove that vaccines are safe. This is like offering to pay for proof that Oswald wasn’t framed or the Holocaust wasn’t faked. You can always deny any proof and dismiss any facts you like if you live under a conspiratorial worldview.
One more thing that further depressed me this week is that I started listening to Michael Lewis’s latest book, The Undoing Project (he also wrote Moneyball and The Big Short). It’s about a couple of Israeli psychologists who spawned the field of Behavior Economics and demonstrated that people are not as rational as they like to believe they are. For example: Take a room full of people and ask everyone to write down the last two digits of his/her phone number. Then have everyone write down their best guess how many African Nations there are in the United Nations. What you will find is that the people with the higher phone numbers will also make higher guesses. Yes, we are that easily manipulated and thrown off by things that are seemingly irrelevant.
Any husker du, I don’t know what the conclusion is to this stream of consciousness. What I do know is that it’s making me think about my own work, refuting conspiracy theories and how I should or should not be going about it. For now, I guess I’ll have to just keep telling people, “You’re just wrong,” and coming off like an arrogant jerk they’re not interested in listening to. :(