Facts Do Not Matter

Coincidence and convergence had a head-on train wreck early in July.

For some reason Kyle Rittenhouse was back in the news. Not that he’d murdered someone else, but somebody lifted a sewer grate and there he was again fouling the national scene.

Add to this Americans finally began noticing how right-wing Anglo rage farmers are coalescing around white nationalism. Not that this had been so from the jump. However, natural a progression as it is, doesn’t it seem like an instinctive migration?

And though what follows really shouldn’t have anything in common with the first two topics, I rewatched My Darling Clementine. Ostensibly the 1946 John Ford movie classic tells the story of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. It tells a story about the incident. But much of the truth got skipped over if not outright avoided during his entertaining film’s 90-minute running time.

It’s as if Ford was setting up the backdrop for his 1962 classic, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

Nonetheless, My Darling Clementine remains a marvelous diversion. Watch it! The imagery is stark. The tale is told economically. The characters don’t tax or befuddle viewers. Legions of current moviemakers could learn plenty from repeated viewings. That is if they could just get over their distaste for titles made before Jaws and these filmed in black & white.

Rittenhouse is an apt fit with Ford’s O.K. Corral version. As in the movie, much of the truth about his August 2020 shooting spree got reworked. In his case, a 17-year-old who shouldn’t have been there, bearing a weapon he shouldn’t have had, puts himself in harm’s way. In doing so, he killed one, injured two then received a friendly verdict validating his warped claim of “self-defense.”

Say this for the then-boy – his acts weren’t premeditated. Though they were committed with the utmost indifference. He was irresponsible.

A scared guy with a gun. What could’ve gone wrong? Other than what often does and did that night.

If the minor himself wasn’t culpable, then adults somewhere ought have been held accountable for his actions.

Again, like Ford and scriptwriters did in excising the less savory parts of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral in My Darling Clementine, Anglo opportunists dissatisfied with the more inclusive and accepting America is becoming saw a gold-plated chance to twist events into a favorable showcase for their regression. In transforming Rittenhouse from a killer into a “victim,” they were as brazen as thieves claiming stolen goods had always been theirs.

Americans have difficulty with history and facts. Ours especially.

At least the successors of the Old World exploiters have acknowledged their predecessors’ misdeeds in Africa and Asia. Left to the inheritors of the rebellious North American colonials, present-day and future students might learn African blacks preferred being enslaved and the New World’s indigenous population accepted rough displacement when they, like the buffalo, weren’t being slaughtered.

Rereading that last sentence, don’t be surprised if it highlights Florida schools 2023-24 curricula.

For this topsy-turvy of reality let us give Satan his due. Newt Gingrich. Despise his politics as I did, he was a magician with language.

Gingrich entered the stage knowing a vast moil of Anglo Americans were dissatisfied with the way our nation began discarding the old notions and certainties of who belonged, who should be at the table, much less have any say at it, and who ought to acquiesce to their assigned slots of inferiority.

Like Joseph Goebbels, Newt Gingrich had angry clay to work with, to mold, then fire until it hardened into gnarled shapes. Into rage farmers who today raise and nurture no end of noxious rhetoric.

Let us admire Gingrich’s perversity with words. Let us condemn his aims and what he created. Let us hate ourselves for not having disposed of him sooner.

Today’s manipulators of our weak and insecure fellow Americans have far better tools in social media, streaming, and radio stations ceaselessly broadcasting programs dedicated to dissent to twist the willingly susceptible. Than the Nazi Reich Minister for Propaganda could ever have imagined. Than the disgraced former Speaker of the House had.

Technology aside, the greatest advantage the purveyors of our current divisiveness have is the eradication of the Fairness Doctrine. Simply explained, that policy distinguished radio and television news from opinion, from commentary, from editorializing. It didn’t curtail the three from airwaves. It just made clear what was presented could’ve come from air or fever dreams.

Rather than involving any genuine reportage, the spew might even have issued from an anus connected to a mouth.

So instead of the truth being known, “truth” shall be perverted. As it has been with Rittenhouse.

Three years ago, the young gunsel committed a capital crime. Rather than take opportunity to disavow his action, to back up their verbal flatulence about obeying the law, right-wing cretins embraced Rittenhouse. Why not? He was, after all, genuinely one of them. And he’d proven this by spilling others’ blood indiscriminately.

Loudly law & order as those deplorables would shamelessly bark to anybody, these lousy letter-of-the-law adherents always seemingly seek diluting the spirit of the law when one of their own oxen is gored. They exhibited that love of parsing statutes just as those they disparaged did.

Rittenhouse’s circumstance, “victimhood,” required an understanding kind of justice. The gentle, unfairly applied, and extremely lenient kind.

Again, a page torn from Goebbels’ original text, then milled into simplicity for American tastes by Gingrich. Once more an already receptive audience succumbs to blandishments it’s been readily prepared to accept.

We know Goebbels and Gingrich manipulated language for nefarious ends. Both propagandists effectively convinced multitudes they’d been afflicted by some insidious injuries. So sinister none of them knew they’d suffered until the mouthpieces of deception informed those listeners. Indeed, both charlatans forked-tongue sleights of hand created resentment without any true basis, inflamed baseless grievances, or managed blaming others for the listeners’ own deficiencies.

Where the receptacles of such bilge surpassed the two enthusiastic advocates of profuse misdirection is how they’ve submerged themselves so thoroughly into the lies. For them it’s not enough to gorge on the patently false. They’ve become so immersed invented assertions have now become solid, irrefutable beliefs.

Even Goebbels and Gingrich never asked that much of their fawning fools. This pair didn’t even require their dupes to transform relativism into “whataboutism.” Once more, a backhanded compliment: each figure kept his bile cogent and coherent.

The rage farmers of today are prone to caroming into so-what tangents at the slightest puncture of their arguments. Naturally these devices are intended to deceive, disrupt, distract, or deflect. Instead, dismay often results. Dismay that the opposing party felt his/her point so precarious, so untenable, he/she believes such a feeble dodge the best resort.

Hearing the deplorables flail – and bereft of lifelines at that – is enough to hope American high schools revive debate classes. Along with civics instructions. The lack of both across the last several decades is probably why our national discourse is so dank, mirthless, and flaccid.

Listening to Rittenhouse’s defenders have been masterful examples of incredible ridiculousness. Despite the many laws the then-boy broke during his Kenosha shooting spree, he remains the absolutely acted-upon.

His supporters, rabid right-wingers generally, all those people retain no capacity for rational thought nor clear sight. At the very last, the sump of hallucination will devour them. As it should. And doubtlessly they’ll blame you and me for that, too.