I thought “Black Friday” was a day, immediately after giving thanks for all our advantages, when we were supposed to go collectively insane and buy everything in and out of sight because it was cheap because it was Black Friday which is always right after Thanksgiving….
Then, this past Friday, yesterday, I opened the Washington Post to the headline that President-elect Trump (hereafter just “Trump”) has chosen a general with the nickname “Mad Dog” to be Secretary of Defense. In case you missed it, the paper also reported that Trump has threatened U.S. companies with “consequences” for moving jobs offshore, details to come later. Meanwhile, back in Washington (aka the Nation’s Capitol, hereafter the NC), it was revealed that “rogue employees” of the NC’s Metro system have been falsifying reports regarding safety conditions for at least a year, placing thousands of daily commuters at risk for another fatal derailment. Management didn’t know. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, House Democrats are upset that Trump won’t explain how he will prevent conflicts of interest and violation of his lease for the Trump hotel on Pennsylvania avenue once he becomes the actual President.
Meanwhile, in Pakistan, the Post reports, thousands of protesters are marching in the streets about charges of corruption involving Prime Minister Sharif, whom Trump just days ago called on the phone, without, it appears, consulting anyone at the State Department or other U.S. agency with expertise regarding Pakistan, and whom Trump then declared was “fantastic,” according to a Pakistani transcript. Trump has not denied the adulation he heaped upon Sharif.
Meanwhile, back in the NC, Trump was reported to have picked former high-ranking officers of Goldman Sachs to manage the key financial agencies of the federal government. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the news, on Wednesday of this week, Ms. Scottie Hughes, known for her role as surrogate for Trump declared, on The DIane Rehm Show, that “facts” are no longer a … fact:
“… on one hand, I hear half the media saying that these are lies. But on the other hand, there are many people that go, “no, it’s true.’ And so one thing that has been interesting this entire campaign season to watch, is that people that say facts are facts—they’re not really facts. Everybody has a way – it’s kind of like looking at ratings, or looking at a glass of half-full water. Everybody has a way of interpreting them to be the truth, or not truth. There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts.” [emphasis added by ShiningSeaUSA.com]
Black Friday déjà vu all over again. No more facts. Imagine. A report for The Atlantic said Ms. Hughes stated later in the interview that she was a “classically studied journalist,” which may explain her position on “facts.” It was, in fact (sorry, couldn’t help myself), none other than Friedrich Nietzsche, writing in the 1880’s, who first said there were no facts, only interpretations. Ms. Hughes should be more forthcoming about her sources when she throws out lines denying the existence of facts.
Nietzsche also said:
“[D]eception, flattering, lying and cheating, talking behind the back, posing, living in borrowed splendor, being masked, the disguise of convention, acting a role before others and before oneself—in short, the constant fluttering around the single flame of vanity is so much the rule and the law that almost nothing is more incomprehensible than how an honest and pure urge for truth could have arisen among men. They are deeply immersed in illusions and dream images; their eye only glides only over the surface of things … their feeling nowhere leads into truth, but contents itself with the reception of stimuli, playing, as it were, a game of blind man’s bluff ….”
On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense, 1873, reproduced at http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl201/modules/Philosophers/Nietzsche/Truth_and_Lie_in_an_Extra-Moral_Sense.htm
Perhaps this is the root explanation for Trump’s popularity even among people who acknowledge that he is a remorseless liar. That, I suppose, would be a matter of interpretation whether you believe Nietzsche or not. I don’t pretend to have the answer. I am still trying to absorb Friday’s major news items, another Black Friday in what promises to be a long line of them. Buckle up.
It also occurs to me that if you were among the long-suffering college students who took philosophy and always wondered why, this latest skirmish about the meaning of reality may be the answer. People like Nietzsche sometimes come out of nowhere to explain, or at least give context to, the otherwise inexplicable. It helps to have at least heard of him, as Ms. Hughes would no doubt verify, but only, of course, as her “interpretation,” not as fact. For in her world, and in the world of our new Chief Executive, “the truth is whatever I say it is.” Hitler and Stalin would approve.