Misinformed About Misinformation

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Brian Stelter, formerly of CNN, recently hosted a panel discussion at Davos for the World Economic Forum, and the topic was disinformation. Other folks might call it misinformation. Tomayto, tomahto. But regardless, in Stelter’s appearance there, we should find a cautionary tale.

Davos, for those who don’t know, is a place in Switzerland where the world’s elites periodically gather in order to save us all from these darn carbon emissions. They of course all burn a small ocean of fossil fuel to get there in all of their private jets, and I even hear that the swank factor of their wealth is such that many of them even order egg omelets for their breakfast. Ostentatious, I call it.

Back to Stelter. To have a gentleman like that host a panel discussion on disinformation exhibits what might be called a lack of self-awareness. If they ever were to develop some scientific way to measure such things, the needle would be bouncing on the right side of that little hand-held cluelessness meter.

But perhaps it is not cluelessness.

Perhaps the people who are dominating the world’s agenda did not get where they are by being stupid. What else might be happening?

The Meaning of Misinformation

When average folks hear a word like misinformation, they assume that a claim is being made about the way things are out in the world. They hold to a common sense correspondence theory of truth, meaning that if someone says that “it is raining outside,” and you go look out the window and see nothing but bright sunshine, you have a right to say that this person was “wrong.”

If it is a larger issue, one with political ramifications, you might say that he was purveying “misinformation.” The idea is that in order to be true, statements have to conform to the state of affairs that they are pointing to—out there in the world. In other words, the verbal statement needs to conform to the facts in order to avoid being misinformation. Now this is a good statement of what ought to be used to evaluate truth and falsehood, but it betrays a thundering naivete about what is actually being done to us.

For some decades now, tucked away in the floor joists underneath obscure departments in prestigious universities, certain termites—postmodernism, relativism, subjectivism, and other forms of goo-thought—have been industriously eating away at all such notions of objectivity. But the mistake of some critics who have seen this happening has been to think that the ultimate goal of said termites is simply the destruction of truth as such, after which the building falls down. But something else is actually happening.

The left actually wants to replace the floor joists with something else—their own supporting structure. It may appear that they want the anarchy of a free fall, but that is mistaken. They want to replace the supporting joists of facts with the supporting joists of narrative.

And so one thing has remained constant. Misinformation continues to be a failure to conform. But in the olden days it was a failure to conform to the way things actually were, and now it is a failure to conform to the narrative. The fact that the narrative can change overnight is neither here nor there. As Orwell put it, “The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.”

This replacement of the facts with narrative is an essential feature of totalitarianism. The fact that it is currently being crammed down our throats is the central indication that we are being prepared for the totalitarian moment.

Such a totalitarian moment can be identified when these two things are present. The first is a sophistical disregard for the objectivity of truth, particularly revealed truth from God, and the second is that we see a fundamentalist zeal when it comes to enforcement of the current narrative. When those two things are present together, you can rest assured that you are in the middle of a humanist power play. The fact that it is so erratic does not keep it from being mandatory.

Do you doubt what I say? We live in a time that does not believe in any kind of transcendent truth at all. We are on our own . . . dust in the wind, motes in the sunbeam, plastic cups on a river in flood. And at the same time, and not unrelated, the enforcement mechanisms regarding various aspects of the dominant narrative have been ruthless and savage.

Tell me, are you surrounded by a “live and let live” attitude when it comes to vaccines? Masks? Lockdowns? Pride month? Wokeness? Critical theory? Indigenous peoples? Patriarchy? Whiteness? To ask the question is to answer it. The current narrative, whatever it is, will be enforced with a club, the kind of club that has spikes coming out of it. There is no such thing as truth, but the narrative will be enforced as though Tomás de Torquemada had been made Director of the Ministry of Truth, thumbscrews and all.

And so whenever you are dealing with some ministry of truth or other, always remember that you are actually dealing with a ministry of the narrative.

Useful Idiots

The phrase useful idiot has been attributed to Lenin, but that has not yet been confirmed. Nevertheless, whether or not he said it, he should have. That kind of person played into his success, and they were all around him. The common usage of the phrase today applies in many situations, and refers to a patsy who is cunningly used by some ruthless power broker higher up. Brian Stelter does not appear to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, and yet, there he is, leading a panel discussion at Davos, with elite heads all over the room nodding in agreement.

This is an ancient tactic. When certain syncretistic agents of compromise were establishing their mash-up religion back in old Israel, what did they do back then?

“So they feared the Lord, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.”

2 Kings 17:32 (KJV)

Low priests for the high places. That’s the ticket.

Now unfortunately the Christian world has supplied these behind-the-scenes-leftists with an almost endless supply of these useful idiots. We have been a veritable seminary for such low priests. Nurtured as they have been on a deracinated Christian faith that applies a truncated gospel to the minimal task of getting their white little hinder parts into Heaven, they then have to fill out the content of the rest of their thinking from other sources. So for the remainder of their worldview, they depend upon what they can pick up from NPR, uplifting quotes on their Starbucks cups, and casual conversations with the cashiers at Trader Joe’s. The end result is a soggy sad bag of bromides that is subbed in for thinking like an educated Christian. Even if they don’t call it woke, they are being wokenized, which is kind of like being tenderized by one of those meat mallets. When the treatment is over, you are constantly aware of how any true statement you might make could be misunderstood by somebody else, and how it could possibly hurt their feelings. And at the mention of “somebody’s feelings,” a bailiff comes out of that little door on the side and cries, “All rise!”

So even when such Christians are not woke themselves, they are not at all aware of the crucial differences between the facts and the narrative, or the radical changes in the editorial staff of our official dictionaries that have taken place in the last few years, or just how off-putting being winsome is.

Classical Christian Education Was Born for This Time

As many of you know, I have been deeply invested in the cause of restoring classical Christian education in our time. We have been successful in many ways, but we are also going to be under siege for that very same reason. The kind of education we are providing, rightly provided, is the kind of education that enables our graduates to see through this postmodern cavalcade of claptrap. We were established for this moment, and must make sure we do not flake at precisely the wrong time.

And we must be careful. There are some in the classical Christian world who already care too much about what the diseased world of academia considers reputable—they are either “too friendly with,” or “not suspicious enough of.” They want what we are doing in the classical Christian school movement to be recognized, to be taken seriously in the academic world in the long run.

But why in the world should we want something like that? The modern academic world has been the source of many of our modern ills, and the cataract of nonsense that pours out of that world is precisely what we were established to fight. We started an alternative school system precisely because the current one is so toxic, and because a large number of parents were put off by all the green pus around the edges. We really must avoid the “please respect us” disease that afflicts a certain kind of evangelical . . . in effect, such brothers want to say to the liberal world, “I’ll call you a Christian if you call me a scholar.” It ends with Christians aching for the respect of the most disreputable people on the planet. Here is the strategy of such clueless Christians, stated plainly:

“If we intend to continue to find our way, we must in the first place win the respect and admiration of those who have thoroughly lost their way.”

One of the central blessings that comes with a genuine classical education is that it enables one to take off the provincial blinders that each generation tends to have. The provincial blinders in our day are fashioned out of selective winsomeness, respect for marginalized voices, a climate conscience, a zeal for diversity hires, and a secularized comstockery. C.S. Lewis once said, in response to the relevance-mongers of his day, “Whatever is not eternal is eternally out of date.” These are words to live by. The permanent things are never to be determined by a voice vote of a flash mob on a justice jag.

Speaking of Lewis, he dedicated The Allegory of Love to his friend Owen Barfield, and in the Preface said this about him.

“Above all, the friend to whom I have dedicated this book, has taught me not to patronize the past, and has trained me to see the present as itself a ‘period.’ I desire for myself no higher function than to be one of the instruments whereby his theory and practice in such matters may become more widely effective.”

C.S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love, p. viii

The permanent things are inextricably tied to the way things are, the way they always have been, and the way they always will be. They are not in any way tied to the narrative.

A Concluding Parable

Let the reader understand . . .