The fascism of facts


Above: You are pre-programmed to look for and attack white privilege, so that when a photograph shows up of a crowd you don’t much care for, all you can see is white.


Donald Trump and his associates have been the subject of sustained and relentless attacks by the left over their failure to acknowledge what seem like incontrovertible and unassailable facts.

But hold on a second. Is this fair or reasonable? Aren’t we being a bit tough on Trump? To be the successful leader of a powerful country requires a range of skills, not the least of which are creativity and imagination. Do we not risk unnecessarily shackling the new President by insisting on his adherence to agreed facts?

Let’s step back a bit and look at some of these supposedly precious facts. What exactly makes them so special? Okay, so climate change is real and a terrible threat to our entire planet. It’s a fact, right? But it’s not a very nice one. It’s certainly not the sort of fact I would invite into my home for a drink or a dinner party. When you examine these facts more closely, you invariably find that a great many of them are extremely ugly and unpleasant.

Trump and his administration have been the subject of recent ridicule over claims that Trump’s inauguration drew a record-breaking crowd. These claims fly in the face of photographic evidence appearing to show that many more people attended Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, while the photographs of Trump’s crowd show vast areas of white space. But let’s examine those photos more closely. This time, before you take another look, turn off your natural liberal bias. Aha! You see? You can’t, can you? And that’s the whole problem with these facts. You only see what you want to see. Your inherent liberal bias colours everything you see. You are pre-programmed to look for and attack white privilege, so that when a photograph shows up of a crowd you don’t much care for, all you can see is white.

And then there are the claims by Trump of widespread voter fraud in the US, a claim supposedly disproved by an absence of evidence. The fact is that there is no evidence of widespread fraud. But think about it for a minute. Doesn’t the complete lack of evidence just demonstrate how successful this fraud was? The millions who participated in this voter fraud still haven’t been found out!

Facts can be dangerous, and it’s time we looked more closely at the people behind them. What do these people want? What is their agenda? It is positively frightening how actively the people peddling these non-lies have been lobbying our political leaders. For decades scientists, academics and other experts have been generating a vast volume of facts, often at the expense of the hard-working taxpayer. But how can it be in any country’s interests to give a disproportionately loud voice to established facts? Do these facts pay any taxes? What contributions do these facts make to the wellbeing of our societies? Indeed, many of these facts are downright menacing and dangerous. Drug abuse figures, poverty stats, inequality indices, crime numbers: are these the sorts of facts we would want anywhere near our children? Scientists and academics are like drug addicts, with their fixation on facts and evidence. But they are also dealers of these dangerous drugs, and they’re doing it in our schools and places of learning.

There is also something obnoxiously elitist about facts. Facts have a way of saying “we are special, we know the truth, and in the face of our incontrovertible power your contrary point of view has no value whatsoever.” Facts are the very enemy of democracy itself. We should not let anyone else tell us what the facts are.

Your opinions are just as valuable as any academic’s utterances. Your voice is special! You get to choose what is real and what is not. If you choose to believe that the Moon is made of cheese, or that climate change is a conspiracy invented by scientists, then why the hell not? And why the heck shouldn’t the Earth be flat? Wouldn’t that make things a whole lot easier for our mapmakers?

Facts have a nasty habit of being inconvenient and unwelcome, and they will often ruin the best-laid plans of our political leaders. That’s what makes them so dangerous. If the Trump administration is going to get anything at all done, it is going to have to take the fight to these facts.

Remember all of this next time someone attacks Donald Trump or one of his surrogates over their refusal to accept verifiable facts, or over their spreading of outright lies. We all have our own unique perspectives and innate biases, and the shill cry by experts of “just the facts!” is a violation of our fundamental human rights. Our grandparents and great-grandparents fought a war to stop tyranny, and many of them never returned home, but in giving undue weight to verifiable and established facts we dishonour the sacrifices so many of them made. We have to fight this fascism of facts, and in Donald Trump we have a man uniquely placed to fight that battle. Here is a man with utter contempt for the facts, a man with no regard for truth or accuracy or the value of science.

Donald Trump’s refusal to be shackled by the truth or evidence is refreshing and timely, but he cannot fight this battle alone. Experts are everywhere, and their power has grown immensely over the years. We will all need to do our bit if we are ever to free ourselves from the facts. But the good news is that there is so much you can do. Your untapped trolling potential is immense and terrifying. So get online and unleash your inner derailer. If you see an article posted on Facebook about the horrors of climate change, bombard the comments with meaningless graphs, and statistics cherrypicked from the work of other people. Or if cherrypicking from facts seems just too distasteful, you can always resort to abuse or even threats of violence or sexual assault. If someone publishes data that challenges your view of the world, attack them personally. Accuse them of bias or corruption, or of just being an idiot. Better still, respond with alternative facts*.

This tyranny of truth must end. We deserve better than all this infuriating evidence. It is time for a fresh start, to usher in a new age filled with baseless assertions, groundless opinions and uninformed reckons. To paraphrase Donald Trump, this fascism of facts stops right here and stops right now.

* Not to be confused with actual facts, which should only ever be used as a last resort.

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