Here is the mind-twisting fact about truth — it is versatile, it can be used just as righteously for good or for ill. The truth, plainly stated, will be agreed to by virtually everyone who hears it.
Here’s one: if you let somebody take over your mind and beliefs, they will be able to control you.
There is no question that this is true. The devil is in how this truth is applied to the larger discussion/argument. It depends completely on who the somebody is that is trying to control your beliefs. Are you warning against Charles Koch and his ilk controlling you by controlling the information you get and what you believe or George Soros and his?
I can find no fault with the absolute truth of the following statement by right-wing provocateur/opinion journalist Tucker Carlson, a celebrity newscaster and culture warrior I generally disagree with. In the clip below, Tucker’s statement is followed by opinion journalist Medhi Hasan, putting his finger on the larger problem — the mainstreaming of crazy beliefs across the conservative right. Hasan rightfully identifies that alarming trend as one of the big stories of our time:
Take Tucker’s comment by itself, out of context. It is hard to dispute the truth of it. Tucker is absolutely right, if a dictator takes over your mind, you are his mindless slave. When I read this to Sekhnet (omitting the reference to Q) she guessed Malcolm X had said it. I thought that was a good guess, Malcolm surely made the same point many times. Here’s Tucker:
(The real threat is a forbidden idea, it’s something called Q-Anon.)  Your mind belongs to you, it is yours and yours alone. Once politicians attempt to control what you believe, they are no longer politicians, they are by definition dictators, and if they succeed in controlling what you believe, you are no longer a citizen, you are not a free man, you are a slave.
Like so much in life, the entire enchilada is in the framing, the context, how the indisputable statement is used to support the argument it proves. Change just one word here — “forbidden” (the left doesn’t want you to know about this idea) to “dangerous” (if you believe this blood curdling fantasy you will do just about anything to save innocent children from these sick fucks who richly deserve death) and there is no problem at all with what Tucker said. It is 100% true. Add in some kind of indisputable right to act on your belief that you are fighting a powerful cabal of blood drinking child rapists and you have a different proposition.
But therein lies the cleverness of the skilled propagandist. Take a true premise nobody can disagree with — if your leaders control your beliefs you are their slave. Then, since that’s self-evident, and we all value our freedom — well, follow me, it’s a short step to convincing the gullible that whatever they believe, no matter how wildly improbable, no matter how demonstrably false, is their god-given right to believe and that no godless leftwing radical so-called “Truther” has the right to say anything about a fervently held belief of yours. They may not judge you! It is a matter of belief, not intellectual analysis. In many ways, belief is more powerful than mere knowledge.
This relates closely to the true concept that it is impossible to argue with a feeling. A person may be right or wrong to feel the way they do, but the feeling is real, and the feeling colors everything else in the conversation. The reality of the feeling must be dealt with first, before the facts of the cognitive matter at issue can be productively discussed.
At the risk of being tedious with a personal example I’ve offered before, here’s a scenario that illustrates this feeling/fact split to yer proverbial T. Watch how the end of this interaction with a very smart, intellectually capable friend, mirrors what Tucker stressed in that clip — the right to your belief is the thing that matters most. It is worth infinitely more than preserving your dearest lifelong friendship.
After my health insurance was illegally terminated for the first time in 2020 (the second time was during April of the pandemic), an old friend calls me to challenge me about my anger, which he says is disproportionate, out of control and which, my old friend stresses, concerns him greatly, as it’s very unhealthy for me to be so angry. He was angry about an email he got from me. He called my email snide and inaccurate, said it revealed an unfair anger directed at him, which was, in any case, totally misplaced.
After I managed to avoid a violent argument with him, declining his loud challenge to tell him to “go fuck himself” and we talked further, he conceded that my email had not actually been inaccurate, but that it was still somewhat snide, he said, particularly coming from someone who claims to be dedicated to ahimsa, non-harm. I do claim to be, and try to be, mild in my emotional reactions, to the extent I can be. There is a great value to not giving in to anger, whenever you can manage to. There is even value to the exercise when you fail.
Over the next few months we did an increasingly frustrating dance for clarity about whether I had a right to be angry about anything. It ended in him snarling at me and hanging up the phone in frustration at the implacability of my “righteous” anger. At one point he thanked me for my generosity in not blaming the blow up on him. That gratitude was soon outweighed by unbearable grievance.
In the course of our long email attempts to salvage our mortally wounded friendship, I mentioned the concept of Complementary Schismogenesis, which our impasse seemed to vividly illustrate (I know of no better illustration, actually). I wrote:
There is a dynamic called Complementary Schismogenesis — two people in an emotional cul du sac, locked in a conflict both want to solve, each of their best efforts to resolve things making the schism worse. Their conflicting styles and clashing emotional needs exacerbate the problem. One, when upset, needs a period of quiet to think, the other needs more talk, immediately.
A: “I need quiet to think, then we’ll talk” confronts B’s “I need to talk right now, then we can be quiet.” And here we go loop de loo.
Empathy should, ideally, not have to be requested, especially when a friend is up against a concrete circumstance that is both frightening and unfair, is at wits’ end, and cries out for help. A can say: but this IS me being empathetic; B will say: feels like you being defensive.
A hurt feeling does not go away because an intelligent, analytical friend says “you really shouldn’t feel that way, it isn’t healthy, cortisol’s a killer, I don’t understand why you have such a strong feeling about this thing that happened to you, you seem disproportionately angry. To make matters more upsetting, you’re not explaining it very well, I don’t know what you actually expect of me since you’re not being clear and you’re also not letting me get a word in, even as you unfairly accuse me of things I can’t even understand. Can I defend why I feel this way? Do I get a chance to defend myself against your unfair charge that I’m hurting you?”
A feeling may turn out to be unreasonable, and when it’s shown to be, after its intensity has faded a bit, hopefully the misunderstanding is over and a lesson learned — but the time to debate the validity of the feeling is not when the strong feeling is still incomprehensible to the friend who keeps demanding a rational account of why the strong feeling is not unreasonable.
In our case, the more times he told me he had no idea what my issue was and asked me to please explain again, the more pointed my explanations became as I had to tamp down more and more frustration at his inability to understand or empathize — and his repeated refusal/inability to engage with or respond to anything I wrote.
That was probably the single factor that made me more and more pessimistic about saving our long friendship — his silence on any point I raised. Though he repeatedly asked for my thoughts, and further clarification, and I’d expressed several times how hurtful silence is to me by way of response, his only response to anything I raised was silence, and telling me he still didn’t understand why I was so unforgiving. When he eventually told me he was sorry, for whatever he might have done that was hurtful, my position remained that accepting an apology for something you insist you don’t understand the hurtfulness of is a piss-poor sign for the future of a mutual friendship.
Predictably, in hindsight, my analysis fell on deaf ears, in spite of several attempts at simplifying, clarifying. I heard nothing back on any point I raised — including how hurtful I find it not to be responded to — only more genuine confusion about what I was actually talking about, what exactly had hurt me so much in his series of inadvertently hurtful acts. All this as though I do not express myself clearly. He simply would not even allow that I express myself with reasonable clarity.
My friend claimed that although he regarded me as his closest friend, loved me like a brother, he truly had no idea why I’d been upset. He expressed pessimism that anybody could truly understand what is in the heart of another person, even someone he’d been friends with for fifty years. I spent many, many hours writing and refining my replies to him, in hopes of getting through to his analytical mind. We were in the realm of feelings, though. Accordingly, he wrote that in spite of our long conversations and many words by email, I’d never given him any hint as to why I felt it necessary to be so mean to him in the end, after being so mild for many years. The long correspondence, from his point of view, was simply me trying to angrily out-lawyer this longtime successful litigator with lawyerly tactics. That was a battle the experienced litigator was not willing to lose.
In the end, for him, it all came down to me being, as originally charged, irrationally, disproportionately angry, and hurtful, and a supreme hypocrite unforgivingly insisting on the righteousness of my maddeningly superior nonviolent viciousness, directed at my innocent friend who loved me dearly, and unconditionally. He was totally justified in feeling as though I’d simply reamed him for no reason (“reaming” was the metaphor he chose, I never touched the boy, your Honor…). In the end, he wrote, I hadn’t given him a single clue as to the basis for my feelings, or convinced him of anything. He closed his final email by noting that he had searched our many emails in vain for “any clue” of what the hell had made me so insanely hurtful to him.
So, again, you can be as smart as you like and analyze things as clearly as you like. State them simply, boil them down to a point nobody can disagree with — nobody should tolerate being hurt by a thoughtless friend, even one who claims to love you. Then it is only a matter of framing and delivering your irrefutable conclusion, based on an unshakable belief: it is the fucking Jews (people like me, for example) and angry Blacks who are the real tyrants and oppressors!
Beware of people who often express hatred, suddenly bearing indisputable truths. These truths will be put to their usual uses, for better or worse.
This sentence, by itself, means little: “the real threat is a forbidden idea, it’s something called Q-Anon.” It seems to be a statement — someone, possibly Tucker (?), believes the real threat is this forbidden idea. Why is it a forbidden idea — because it is objectively bad? Because it is so ugly, inflammatory and improbable as to be unthinkable? Because, while there is no proof of any of its claims, it so easily leads to violence against the evil conspiracy set out in the idea, if you believe the forbidden theory? To forbid is to censor, to cancel, to negate someone else’s freedom of inquiry and belief.
The Q-Anon “idea” is simple enough at its root: Q is a highly placed insider of secret identity who states that Donald John Trump is the only person who can defeat an evil conspiracy of very powerful elites [top Democrats, Hollywood celebrities, wealthy liberal donors] who are pedophile sex traffickers who occasionally drink the blood of their innocent young victims. These are extremely dangerous pedophile cannibals of amazing cunning who are also, horrifyingly enough, child-murdering cannibals.
Just an idea, you dig, the details of which are constantly evolving through a kind of online crowd-sourcing. Just like Liberal Cancel Culture, you know, to “forbid it”.