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Essays on Issues, Ideas and Reflections on the Times. Published now and
then. Opinions pro or con are welcome.

When "Facts" Are Irrelevant

North Miami Beach, FL 07-15-2005
A.H. Schectman

           I remember a story from the time I was in High School.  A man was walking near a stable when he noticed a drying pile of manure.  He thought to himself, “I can make some money out of that”.   So, he set up a sign that said FACTS FOR SALE.  Soon a man came by and said, “Hey, can you make me a sandwich of that?” Sure, was the reply and a sandwich was produced.  After taking a mouthful and chewing thoughtfully, the man said, “This tastes like manure!”  The salesman replied, “That’s a fact!”

          This is an example of facts being irrelevant when we want something, perhaps the truth. Paul Krugman, in discussing “Karl Rove’s America” in the NY Times this morning, said that for Karl Rove, facts were irrelevant.  This is not only true for Karl Rove who engineered the Republican political coup but is true for most of the transactions, political or otherwise that take place every day, in every place and by nearly everybody.  We swallow a lot of “facts” that are just not so. 

          It is as old as history to twist the truth to suit your purposes.  Democrats do it just as much as Republicans.  Liberals and Conservatives do it too but much of what passes for “facts” is just pure manure.  If you state it strongly enough and long enough you will wear down the arguments of others who eventually swallow what you say – against their better judgment, common sense and experience.

          Mr. and Mrs. Average America have been buying a lot of manure from an excellent salesman Mr. George W. Bush.  Of course, he has had a lot help from his friends who benefit greatly by polishing up his image despite his habit of showing his limitations whenever he opens his mouth.  But sales are everything and almost anything will do to sell almost anything.

         The sad thing is that people are swallowing a lot of manure, chewing it reflectively and saying to themselves, something is not quite right.  But they brighten up when assured by the Karl Roves of this world and cheer for patriotism no matter how much it is smeared by the methods used to get them to keep that stuff down.  One would think that Americans are a lot smarter than that.  One would also think that the so-called suicide bombers who blow themselves up with their victims are a lot smarter than that.  But that is not so.

         When something unreasonable and distasteful is presented as something pretty wonderful, most people will swallow it. Watch out when it comes back up!



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