follow link Last week, The Oxford English Dictionary announced that its choice for the 2016 Word of the Year is post-truth, defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.
“(T)he connotations embedded in “post-truth” commentary are normally as follows: “post-truth” is the product of populism; it is the bastard child of common-touch charlatans and a rabble ripe for arousal; it is often in blatant disregard of the actualité. But this interpretation blatantly disregards the actual origins of “post-truth”. These lie neither with those deemed under-educated nor with their new-found champions. Instead, the groundbreaking work on “post-truth” was performed by academics, with further contributions from an extensive roster of middle-class professionals. Left-leaning, self-confessed liberals, they sought freedom from state-sponsored truth; instead they built a new form of cognitive confinement—‘post-truth’. More than 30 years ago, academics started to discredit “truth” as one of the “grand narratives” which clever people could no longer bring themselves to believe in. Instead of “the truth,” which was to be rejected as naïve and/or repressive, a new intellectual orthodoxy permitted only “truths”—always plural, frequently personalized, inevitably relativized. Under the terms of this outlook, all claims on truth are relative to the particular person making them; there is no position outside our own particulars from which to establish universal truth. … “Post-truth” is the latest step in a logic long established in the history of ideas, and previously expressed in the cultural turn led by middle-class professionals. Instead of blaming populism for enacting what we set in motion, it would be better to acknowledge our own shameful part in it.”
As a word, ‘post-truth’ has been in usage since at least 2004 when it was incorporated in the title of a book by Ralph Keyes, The Post-Truth Era; Dishonesty and Deception in Contemporary Life.
Notwithstanding Calcutt’s historical explanation and the fact that the word has been in usage for at least a dozen years, the left is hard at work to ensure the public interprets ‘post-truth’ only as an epithet on Donald Trump; as a new term used to define a new and awful circumstance which he and his supporters brought about with the help of an enabling media.
- watch The Washington Post in a November 16 article titled ‘Post-truth’ named 2016 word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries – “It’s official: Truth is dead. Facts are passe. … Throughout a grueling presidential campaign in which accusations of lies and alternate realities flowed freely, in every direction, hundreds of fact checks were published about statements from both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Dozens of media outlets found that Trump’s relationship with the truth was, well, complicated.”
- Ann McFeatters, syndicated columnist, in a November 20 column titled Nothing’s sacred in ‘post-truth’ USA, spends the entirety of the column deriding Donald Trump. The implication raised by the title is obvious; Trumps victory has marked the beginning of ‘post-truth’ in America. She wrote, “…we live in a post-truth world where the president of the United States (referring to Trump) has lied repeatedly, pathologically and, apparently, without consequence. And, undoubtedly, will continue to do so.” In a remarkable exposure of her own ability to ignore objective facts and operate comfortably in the post-truth arena she wrote, “Trump has named as his chief White House adviser Steve Bannon, the head of Breitbart “News,” a white supremacist-supporting outfit that is mainly known for spewing hate and intolerance.”
- Margaret Sullivan, syndicated columnist, in a November 17 column entitled Three ways the press must cover Trump in the abnormal days to come, also implies that ‘post-truth’ is a new term appropriately used to describe the US after the election of Donald Trump. “In this post-truth universe, where established facts often don’t matter as much as appeals to emotion and partisan ideology, we also hear another word a lot: “normalize.” The question behind the word is this: In covering President-elect Trump and his presidency, should the traditional news media treat this like any other transition, and like any other run-of-the-mill administration?” Incredibly, she suggests that it is Trump’s post-truth presidency (as opposed to sound journalistic principles) which gives rise to a new “formulation” for a new media approach she has been hearing about “recently”; “scrutinize, don’t normalize”. How interesting that leftist media types are warming up to the notion that maybe they should do their job in fulfilling their constitutional role as a scrutinizing check on the government now that their party is leaving the White House.
As I wrote here, “in our self-governing society, the usurpation of language has always been a favored tool of the left. By controlling language, they affect messaging and ultimately thought. … Sometimes they co-opt words which have gained favor with the public and redefine them, presumably in the hope that the positive connotation will continue even after it has been redefined. There is perhaps no better example of this tactic than the progressives’ theft of the word “liberalism”. Once, “liberalism” defined a political perspective which valued individual and economic liberty, private property, very limited government and the strict application of the rule of law. Because the progressive movement stole the term and redefined it for its own purposes, this original conception of “liberalism” is now typically referred to as “classical liberalism” in order to distinguish it from modern liberalism.”
The left is now running the same play in the opposite direction. They stole the word ‘liberalism’, redefined it and co-opted it for their own use. Now they seek to redeploy ‘post-truth’, a word brought about in large part as a result of the left’s historical efforts to avoid objective truth and reality, and impose it as a permanent epithet upon Donald Trump and his supporters. It’s reasonable to suppose that they would like to see it forever tied around Trump’s neck; a descriptive albatross crafted by the left, amplified by the leftist media’s megaphone and drummed into the consciousness of the public as an adjective only applicable to Trump’s presidency.