A friend once told me “there is no better way of ruining a noble cause than by getting rogues to represent it”. That describes the process which has overtaken peacekeeping, environmentalism and even the campaign for racial equality. These causes, which are otherwise noble, will take decades to recover from the grifters who have made a fortune in their name. How on earth did peacekeeping get put in the care of Kofi Annan? Why was a guy like Al Sharpton allowed to assume the role of the racial conscience of America? How come Al Gore gets to pronounce on science?
The Narrative, probably. Always the Narrative.
NARRATIVE is defined by Mirriam Webster in the following way:
1: something that is narrated : story, account
2: the art or practice of narration
3: the representation in art of an event or story; also : an example of such a representation
Narrative is an essential element of the postmodern political rhetorical strategy to try to control or distort reality in order to gain power over others.
Here is an example of competing narratives as discussed by a political scientist:
Consider two accounts, the first of which resonates for most of the American public and the second of which baffles many Americans:
Two huge commercial jetliners smash into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Soon after, the buildings collapse. Fires rage for days; eyewitnesses tell of the horrors they saw or experienced. Thousands die as the public learns that terrorists willing to commit suicide hijacked four planes and turned them into weapons of mass destruction in the name of their political/religious beliefs. This is an evil act and an act of warâ€”a sneak attack like Pearl Harbor. It is perhaps a new kind of war, but a war nonetheless and the only response to being attacked is to attack back both to punish those responsible for the carnage and to prevent future attacks. Defending civilization against terrorism requires hunting down the supporters and perpetrators of terror and the regimes that support them.For many the truth of this narrative is self-evident. Anyone denying or even questioning it is either an enemy or delusional (or both). The link between the events themselves and the conclusions is seamless to those who accept it. But a different narrative also exists:
Two huge commercial jetliners smash into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Soon after, the buildings collapse. Fires rage for days; eyewitnesses tell of the horrors they saw or experienced. Thousands die as the public learns that terrorists willing to commit suicide hijacked four planes and turned them into weapons of mass destruction in the name of their political/religious beliefs. This may have been an evil act, but now the suffering Americans know what it is like to live in physical terror. It is an experience Palestinians and Iraqis and others in the Middle East have known for years. This will lead, once again, to attacks on Muslims, this time in Afghanistan, and perhaps in other countries. Once again, innocent civilians will bear the brunt of the suffering from the attacks from the western powers while corrupt regimes give tacit support to the US. As bombs fall from 30,000 feet and civilians die, new refugees will be created in a land that has already suffered from more than 20 years of on-going war.The two narratives start in the same place, but then head in different directions which evoke far different images. Where the first emphasizes the reassurance a strong, military response can offer, the second expresses fears that this strong response will quickly become a vengeful attack on a vulnerable religious community. Whereas the first invokes images of justice, the second predicts uncontrolled revenge and more of the injustice that has long characterized the relationship between the west and Islam. It asks, if Americans claim that justice is so important, why have Palestinians been neglected for so long and subjected to frequent attacks using American-made sophisticated weapons? Why are Iraqi children unable to meet their basic nutritional needs while its leaders literally live in palaces? In short, the second narrative expresses the deepest vulnerabilities, humiliation, rage at both the west and the leaders of Muslim countries, and fears of annihilation.
The second narrative is connected to the anger and resentment against the US in many parts of the Islamic world, but it doesn't mean that all Muslims agree with it or hate the US. The power of the narrative is its plausibility, meaning that it resonates with how many Muslims understand historical conflicts with the Christian world as well as more recent events in their own lifetimes. At least four events are especially relevant here: (1) American support for the Shah of Iran and complete opposition to the Iranian revolution; (2) unconditional support for Israel despite their refusal to take significant steps towards the achievement of a Palestinian state; (3) the Gulf War, which was justified in the west in terms of turning back Iraqi aggression but which was widely understood by Muslims as propping up autocratic, unpopular and corrupt regimes upon whom American oil supplies depended; and (4) threats to Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem resulting from not only American presence in the region but the more diffuse forces of modernization and globalization which threaten Muslim cultures. A psychocultural analysis points towards the deep fears and humiliations these events have unleashed and links them to parallel past experiences.
It is a fundamental truth of the postmodern political left that the difference between truth and fiction is not what it used to be--in
"Who controls the past", ran the Party slogan in 1984, "controls the future: who controls the present controls the past."
As Winston from that novel wrote: Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. What he meant was that Freedom can exist only when reality exists. Once you accept that there is an external reality, then the confusion generated by the postmodern narrative dissolves away; and Freedom is possible.
Let me again quote from a post at Belmont Club. In this one, Wretchard is writing about how the "reality based” community of liberals can’t believe what is happening all around them and how they attempt to NARRATIZE it all away. He quotes one noted HuffPo liberal:
>“Many of us already knew it, but Sen. Richard Lugar’s defeat in the Indiana Republican primary puts things into stark relief: In 2012 any vote for a Republican is a vote for crazy. Any vote. Any Republican. No matter how sane the Republican, it’s a vote for crazy.”
But Wretchard counters,
...it is his incredulity at what should have been obvious and rising discontents that is itself interesting. How could Casey have missed the rising gas prices, string of foreign humiliations, climbing unemployment, the stagnating incomes? How? How? As Naseem Taleb put it, most “unpredictable” events are really White Swans which are obvious in retrospect and were a long time coming. The only reason nobody saw it coming was that they didn’t want to. As Saul Bellow once wrote “a great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.”
To counter the Narrative that "REPUBLICANS ARE CRAZY" you do not immediately offer evicence that a psychiatrist has documented you are sane. Once you do something like that, it is too late: you have already accepted the left's faulty premise and are battling on their postmodern turf. You will not be able to score. As I pointed out in a previous post STOP ALLOWING THE LEFT'S RHETORICAL STRATEGIES TO DEFINE THE DEBATE on why the Democrats always seem to win the name-calling contests:
Not because they are actually correct or have truth on their side; not simply because they have the media referrees on their side, but because they always set the ground rules and they always insist on playing in their home court.
The "war on women" meme is not real, that is, it has no reality. Neither is the charge of Republicans being "anti-Black" or racist; or anti-poor. These memes are just a few of the ongoing, politically correct rhetorical strategies adopted by Democrats and the progressive postmodern left in general, to achieve their ends.
There is no desire for rational argument on the Democrats' part because Truth is not the objective of their rhetoric. Stephen Hicks in his book quotes Frank Lentricchia, a noted Duke University literary critic. Postmodernism, says Lentricchia, "seeks not to find the foundation or conditions of truth but to exercise power for the purpose of social change [emphasis mine]."
Postmodern rhetoric explicitly rejects truth, and because of this those who use it are completely indifferent to consistency and dismissive of reason.Hence they tend to loathe rational debate and make sure that any discussion of issues plays out with their rules.
The only way to counter these postmodern political narratives is to destroy the premise on which it is founded. I would say something like: "How DARE you sir/madam insinuate that I am crazy/racist/homophobic/sexist/stupid, when your own behavior [insert behavior here] is evidence to the fact that YOU are the one obsessed with [insert insult here]. You are engaging in psychological projection as a way of denying a painful reality about your own policies. The real issue that needs to be discussed is the failure of the Democrats on the economy/international relations/etc etc [and lay out your argument]."
In other words, refuse to play on their soggy postmodern turf and get back to reality.