Jewish World Review Jan. 30, 2014/ 29 Shevat, 5774
The poison of postmodern lying
By Victor Davis Hanson
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | All presidents at one time have fudged on the truth. Most politicians pad their resumes and airbrush away their sins. But what is new about political lying is the present notion that lies are not necessarily lies anymore -- a reflection of the relativism that infects our entire culture.
Postmodernism (the cultural fad "after modernism") went well beyond questioning norms and rules. It attacked the very idea of having any rules at all. Postmodernist relativists claimed that things like "truth" were mere fictions to preserve elite privilege. Unfortunately, bad ideas like that have a habit of poisoning an entire society -- and now they have.
When caught, Davis did not apologize for lying. Instead, she lamely offered that, "My language should be tighter." Apparently, only old fogies still believe in truth and falsehood -- period. In contrast, Davis knows that promoting a progressive feminist agenda is "truth," and she only needs to be "tighter" about her fabrications to neutralize her reactionary critics.
In the gospel of postmodern relativism, what did it matter if the president of
For that matter, the "law" that requires a president to enforce legislation passed by the
Without notions of objective truth, there can never be lies, just competing narratives and discourses. Stories that supposedly serve the noble majority are true; those that supposedly don't become lies -- the facts are irrelevant. When Sen.
Later, as secretary of state, Clinton dismissed the circumstances surrounding the murders in Benghazi with the callous exclamation, "What difference does it make?" She had a postmodern point. If President Obama, then-United Nations Ambassador
If Director of National Intelligence
By what arbitrary rules can one claim that "Piss Christ" or other provocative anti-Christian art is blasphemous or inferior, if its apparent purpose is to lessen the influence of a purportedly pernicious religion? Was Obama's autobiography truth or fiction, or something in between -- as hinted by the president himself when he was caught in untruths and then backed away from some of his stories, claiming they were now just "composites"?
Part of old America still abides by absolute truth and falsity. A door is either hung plumb or not. The calibrations of the Atlas rocket either are accurate and it takes off, or inaccurate and it blows up. Noble intentions cannot make prime numbers like 5 or 7 divisible.
But outside of math and science, whose natural truth man so far cannot impugn, almost everything else in America has become "it depends." Admissions, hiring, evaluations, autobiographies, and the statements of politicians and government officials, all become truthful if they serve the correct cause -- and damn any reactionary discrepancies.
To paraphrase George Orwell, everything is relative, but some things are more relative than others.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.
© 2013, TMS