• Sona Chaturvedi

Truth Decay

Photo credit: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images.

We have perfected denial in this country. We disregard facts, lie about our history, displace reason with emotion and diminish the value of truth. In other words, reality has been hijacked. It’s not new to bury the inconvenient truth. But it’s reached a fever pitch, with falsehoods and conspiracies spreading like wildfire. Violent acts are even actively encouraged by the disingenuous to maintain these delusions. By not dealing with what genuinely happened in our past, we are doomed to be haunted by its ghosts that will eventually bring our democracy to an end. “America is an old house,” says Isabel Wilkerson, author of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. “We can never declare the work over. When you live in an old house, you may not want to go into the basement after a storm to see what the rains have wrought. Choose not to look, however, at your own peril. The owner of an old house knows that whatever you are ignoring will never go away. Whatever is lurking will fester whether you choose to look or not. Ignorance is no protection from the consequences of inaction. Whatever you are wishing away will gnaw at you until you gather the courage to face what you would rather not see.” Here, the very notion of being honest about a white-washed past has right-wing pundits outraged. How dare we question our shared history, our founding fathers or our Constitution? The truth and history have become a tool for propagandists to create distractions, so their supporters maintain their white grievance. Without that anger, the GOP would cease to exist. It is the only thing that fuels their base. The mere act of telling or searching for the truth is threatening to the white power structure and met with such forceful disdain that it’s practically impossible to make any real advancement we so crucially need. The GOP doesn’t want progress, because it doesn’t serve their needs. They consistently have spouted the same fallacies for decades. They encourage us to battle amongst ourselves about race, religion, reproductive limitations, children’s books, LGBTQ rights or any host of topics that can be used to divide us. They give power to certain voices that feign anger and relentlessly promote toxic ideas through social media and conservative “news.” They know telling the truth, education and organized efforts such as the Civil Rights movement would weaken their power. The voices of entitlement and white grievance would greatly diminish in numbers over time. They would not have the hold on a large percentage of the American public they do now. We only have one choice. It all comes down to this moment. The battle for American democracy will be decided within months. As Michiko Kakutani from The Guardian so eloquently states: “There are no easy remedies, but it’s essential that citizens defy the cynicism and resignation that autocrats and power-hungry politicians depend on to subvert resistance. Without commonly agreed-on facts –- not Republican facts and Democratic facts; not the alternative facts of today’s silo-world –- there can be no rational debate over policies, no substantive means of evaluating candidates for political office, and no way to hold elected officials accountable to the people. Without truth, democracy is hobbled.” The only way forward is to be honest. This was never a democracy for all. If we don’t come to terms with the idea of what actually constitutes a representative government for everyone, how can we reshape it? We can’t. We will undoubtedly be taken over by autocratic rule, and we will never know what could have been accomplished. We will be remembered as a failed nation and a country that, if it could have looked at its past without the façade, would have survived. And that will be a sad tale for the world to tell.