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Thursday, August 31, 2017

One Thing Liberals Can Thank Trump For

I know, I dangled a preposition in the title, but there's actually something political liberals should thank President Trump for.1 For the first time in a long time we don't seem to be afraid about talking about "truth." For too long we've been enamored with postmodernist notions of moral relativism, but we finally seem to be okay with the idea that not all news is "fake news," that "facts" do exist, and that not all of reality is socially constructed ("The Social Construction of Reality (Sort of)." This shift was brought home to me while reading Timothy Snyder's, On Tyranny, which contains 20 "lessons" on how to prevent the U.S. from devolving into tyranny. The tenth lesson is entitled, "Believe in Truth," in which Snyder argues that
To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is not basis on which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the the most blinding lights. ("On Tyranny," p. 65)
This does not mean that our perceptions of reality aren't colored by our social location, but it does suggest that lying behind those perceptions is a reality, a truth, that we can catch a glimpse of from time to time, and our goal should be to adopt methods for capturing that reality. So, let's thank our President for bringing us face-to-face with the fact that there really are facts. It's one of the few positive things he has wrought in the few short months he has been in the White House.

1 There I go again, but phrasing it that way makes a lot more sense than saying, "there's something for which political liberals should thank Trump." Undoubtedly, that is why Winston Churchill once remarked, “This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.”

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