Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 618, May 8, 2011

"A tale told by an idiot, full of
sound and fury, signifying nothing"

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Macbeth, Act V, Scene V
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

Thirty years ago or more, there was an interesting commercial spot on TV meant to answer the then-current environmentalist whining about plastic.

While a completely forgettable voice-over droned on, the spot showed a typical American home as, one by one, every item made of plastic was removed. Telephones, wall clocks, countertops, utensils, appliances, floor coverings, and furniture disappeared. In the end, the place looked pretty much as if the Grinch had been redecorating it.

Sometime later, somebody else did something similar, removing everything that hadn't been manufactured in America. The result was identical. East Berlin in 1946, stripped and gutted. Our culture is as dependent on plastics and imports as Neanderthal culture was on stone. For the record, I believe in the freedom to trade, think everything we do with plastics now is wonderful, and don't object to any of this at all.

Recent events have left me wondering what such a demonstration would reveal—how much of American civilization would remain—if you removed the lies on which its foundation apparently rests, pounded into us by generations of politicians, bureaucrats, putrescently corrupt educators, and the round-heeled mass media. Would it look like Hiroshima shortly after Little Boy? Or more like Nagasaki after Fat Man?

And is there a significant difference? To switch metaphors, we all, each and every one of us, swim every day in an ocean of lies. Eventually we grow exhausted by their accumulated weight, sink, and drown.

I made a speech, a few years ago, in which I described America as an "Empire of Lies", citing a handful of the more obvious untruths—the sinking of the Lusitania, the Gulf of Tonkin "Incident"—that have distorted history and destroyed lives over the last couple of centuries.

Almost everything that people have been led to believe about the War Between The States—its actual origins, its true nature, how and why it really started, the hidden reasons it was fought—is a lie. It's reasonably obvious that Lincoln's assassination was engineered by Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War, who declared martial law and attempted to pull off a coup d'etat as soon as the President was dead. The only reason the U.S. didn't become a banana republic right then and there is the unexpected bravery of Vice President Andrew Johnson.

This is not to imply, not by any means, that political lying was invented here. Those who possess power, or who desire to, have been offering an archaeopteryx in every pot since before they were entirely human.

It's altogether possible that history will never know the truth behind the murders of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. All we know for sure about Ruby Ridge, Waco, Oklahoma City, and the World Trade Center is that the official stories are bald faced lies.

Which brings us to Osama bin Laden.

This is the guy, a member of the Saudi Arabian aristocracy, who was originally put in place and propped up (not unlike the late and unlamented Saddam Hussein) by the US government. This is the same guy who was reportedly responsible for what happened on September 11th, 2001. The same guy it took a hundred governments, millions of policemen and soldiers, ten years, and several trillion dollars to find.

When they finally did find him, somebody popped him a couple of times, and what did the folks who paid for the whole extravaganza get for their money and pain? Within two hours of the hit, we'd heard six conflicting stories about it. All we have is the word of individuals who have proven themselves to be habitual, pathological liars again and again and again. Nothing else. No prisoners. No body. No film at 11. No proof that any of it ever happened. Nothing. Nada. A skinless balloon.

Frankly, my dear, I no longer give a damn.

Lyndon Johnson asserted on numerous occasions that government has a right—even a duty—to lie to the voters and taxpayers for reasons of national security. Of course Johnson was a tyrant and a murderer.

I say to hell with Landslide Lyndon; consider the bullshit flag thrown forever. Anybody who professes to believe anything that any bureaucrat, politician, or policemen tells him—Chris Matthews and Bill O'Reilly come immediately to mind—brands himself henceforward as just another—secondhand—liar, or an ignorant, feeble-minded cretin.

Conservatives are extremely fond of blathering about what they call "American exceptionalism", the idea that this country is unique, different from any other country in the history of the world. I agree with them about that—someone once said "America is the best idea anyone ever had for a country"—while recognizing that everything they do, everything their ideological enemies the "Progressives" do, every policy they propose and enact, results in America becoming more and more like those sad, threadbare polities covering the rest of the planet.

I say that you can't be exceptional if you don't occasionally do something exceptional. I say the ultimate exercise in American exceptionalism would be to pass a Constitutional amendment mandating that any bureaucrat, politician, or policeman duly convicted of lying to anybody for any reason (or, for that matter, keeping secrets) should be hanged—publicly—by the neck until he can't lie any more.

If not, then life will continue to be what Shakespeare said it was, "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing".


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