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Saturday, February 20, 2021

A Miss America Fantasy

"Freedom of opinion is a farce unless factual information is guaranteed and the facts themselves are not in dispute." - Hannah Arendt

Indulge me in a fantasy. How cool would it be if all fifty Miss America candidates used Hannah Arendt's prescient words when asked to make a statement to the adoring throngs? If these words were repeated fifty times to millions of Americans, is it perhaps possible that a few people who believe the phrase "alternative facts" has merit might be persuaded there is such a thing as verifiable information in our post-truth era? I live in hope. I hope a few of you share my hope.

Although we now know he was not the last, Joseph Goebbels - the Nazi Minister of Information - holds the dubious distinction of being one of the twentieth century's first demagogues to repeatedly utter the now acceptable phrase "fake news". Goebbels used the German word Lugenpresse.  He later went on to characterize the free press as an "...enemy of the people..." Sound familiar? 

Though I've never been a fan of the Miss America pageant, I'm offering myself as a public speaking consultant to all fifty candidates - free of charge - to help spread Hannah Arendt's critically important message. Any other volunteers for this mission?

"Post-truth is pre-fascism." - Timothy Snyder


  1. I wish I could share your hope. Even though I am not usually pessimistic, I am about "alternative facts" and the millions who believe them. I recently read an editorial comment in The Coaster that there were short cuts in the COVID 19 vaccination trials and approval. This is not true. The same rigorous approval process by the FDA was used. This man not only spouted "alternative facts," he cast doubt on the one thing that will ultimately get us out of this pandemic: herd immunity. So, I would love to be more hopeful, but am skeptical. You know me and know that I am typically pretty optimistic.....

    1. Ines; Thanks for the comment. I get your skepticism and am just as discouraged as you about stuff like the Coast Star article you cite. But, stay with me in the cautiously optimistic camp, OK? People like us and Hannah Arendt and Timothy Snyder must remain vigilant and look for any opportunity to fight back in our "post-truth" era. Giving up is not an option.

    2. Thanks Pat. Interesting you should mention Timothy Snyder (and Hannah Arendt who is quoted often by him). I just read On Tyranny in one sitting. I got it through an inter-library loan and liked it so much I just ordered a copy for our house from the Asbury Book Coop. The reason I read it is that you had mentioned it in a blog. I clicked on this particular post of yours to see if I could search for that earlier post to reply to it and thank you for the excellent recommendation. And, viola I didn't need to find it. I do love serendipity. A truly awesome book - so succinct, so on target and so prescient given that it was copyrighted in 2017. Chapter 18 essentially predicts the events of January 6th. Luckily it didn't end like the Reichstag fire of 1933 but it could have if martial law had been declared....Whew!

    3. Ines; At the risk of turning this post into OUR jointly-written novella, I'll keep my "reply to your reply to your comment" brief. I can think of no higher compliment than you paid me here by saying you picked up "On Tyranny" based on learning of it via my blog. My dream from the inception of my blog in March 2011 has been to connect with others in this way whether via a book, a film, some music, an idea, anything. Thanks for making my week - I needed a lift!

  2. Hello Pat. Hope this finds you all doing well. Interesting subject and one that certainly raises a number of questions. I always hate when cynicism enters a discussion but, at the same time, how can we avoid it? Facts are facts. I grant you that one. But, with the way things have sadly become these days, there comes the question of 'whose facts?' Too many times I find myself wondering how someone cannot can't see what's right in front of them. How people behave, have behaved, and, undoubtedly, will continue to behave. How much influence one person can have over another person, or group of people, just by saying what people want to hear. Giving absolutely no regard to what danger may result. We are living in a world where 'fake news' has reared its ugly head once again. I don't mean to imply that all journalists and news reporters are honest, or even equal, because we have found that is not the case. I guess what I'm trying to say, along with agreeing with what you wrote in this blog post, is there doesn't seem to be a clear case of right versus wrong anymore. I would say that maybe there never was, but I don't like being the cynic in the room.
    As always, thanks for getting the brain in gear. Always an interesting read.

    1. Bob; Thanks for the positive feedback and comprehensive comment. And you are most welcome re "...getting the brain gear."