One of the head-scratchers that I’ve been confronting over the past two years of COVID-19 is the sudden propensity of previously skeptical folks to insist that we have to take the U.S. government at its word on everything from the origins of the pandemic to the effectiveness of masks and vaccines.
***Obligatory note: I am vaccinated and boosted. I think it’s the smart play. I’ve dodged catching the Rona despite multiple close contacts, and the friends and loved ones who have caught it and are vaccinated have fared well. I’ve known some unvaccinated folks who died from it. I think people should get the jab, but I don’t believe they should be forced to do so.***
What many of these folks once knew and seem to have forgotten or chosen to shove down the memory hole is that the U.S. Government is an elite-level purveyor of misinformation and disinformation, and has been for generations. From the Gulf of Tonkin Incident to WMD in Iraq to the stability of Afghanistan, the U.S. Government has straight up lied to the American people over and over and over again.
Now it seems that the “you’re gonna have to trust us on that” and “take our word for it or you’re a terrorist sympathizer/Russian stooge” technique is failing to work. The U.S. Government peddled the story last week that Russia was going to drop a graphic video that would serve as a pretext for invasion of Ukraine. Now, that may be true. It certainly fits the Soviet/Russian playbook. But an AP reporter, perhaps remembering how a compliant press helped Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz and that cabal gin up a causus belli for the invasion of Iraq, did his job and asked a State Department briefer for, y’know, some evidence. Roll the tape.
Ned Price actually offered up a transcript of his remarks as evidence to support his remarks. AP’s Matt Lee pointed out that, um…
“That’s not evidence, Ned. That’s you saying it. That’s not evidence, I’m sorry.”
Gosh, why would anybody doubt the credibility of the U.S. Government and the British government? It’s not like they’ve served up a “slam dunk” case for existential threats that turned out to be BS, after all. Have they? When you’ve got a track record of lying, condescending obfuscation and utter lack of accountability, you’ve sacrificed the right to ask anybody to take you at your word.
I am not a Grover Norquist “shrink government till you can drown it in the bathtub” radical. I believe that the Federal Government has a vital role to play in modern life. We need it to function well — and one of the ways to ensure that it functions well is to call BS when it’s purveying BS, to demand accountability for failure, and to insist that government stay in its lane. As my friend Erik Dolson points out, robust government is necessary to check the leviathan power of corporations, but it is a lousy substitute for family and congregation.
A healthy skepticism is always the right stance. It’s a wonderful thing that Matt Lee’s joust with that State Department dweeb went viral. More of this please.