October 21, 2003

Ideology and "facts"

I read this comment on the General Boykin affair and got angry.

But then I read Cal Thomas' take on the situation and got curious.

Has Boykin been "silenced" by the Bush Administration or not? The Washington Post thinks not; Cal Thomas thinks so.

This may be just a minor factual dispute, but it may be a revealing instance of how ideology can sometimes be determinative of the "facts." Six months from now, the "fact" that Boykin was "silenced" will probably be unquestioned by the religious Right. Meanwhile, others will take as established historical fact that Boykin was "not even reprimanded" by the President.

Both sides will wonder what kind of crack the other side has been smoking. The disagreement will probably seem to each side as evidence that the other is willing to willfully lie, or at least to bury its head in the sand in the face of uncomfortable "truth." But the truth will be buried so deeply under the manure pile of ideological commitments that even if it were dug up, it wouldn't command anyone's allegiance. And so an event will cease to be a historical reference point at all. Instead, it will become entirely a narrative and a bedtime story which serves the ideological interests of the people who tell it to their children at night. On one side: the story of Big Bad Boykin, the Lapdog of the Wacko Religious President. On the other: Muzzling our Patriotic Soldiers for the Sake of our Politically Correct Capitulation to Murderous Islamic Fanatics.

Both stories will make the people who tell them feel good about themselves. It will make them feel superior to their opponents. That's what it's all about.

Posted by Carey at October 21, 2003 08:27 AM