In the 1944 movie, “Gaslight,” starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, a husband attempts to manipulate his wife’s environment and experiences toward the goal of convincing her she’s going crazy. Why? Because he wants to cover up his crimes. The word “gaslight,” meaning to manipulate others with the goal of having them call into question their take on reality, was first used in 1961 and has become very popular in recent years, given the tendency of politicians and the media elite to “gaslight” the public on issues and policies.
The current administration seems to be honing this skill to perfection, with the assistance of their allies in the media. Until about two weeks ago, everyone who knew anything about economics knew that the country was in a recession when the GDP suffered two consecutive quarters of negative growth. The United States has suffered two consecutive quarters of negative growth. That’s a recession, right? Oh, but wait! President Biden insists that that is not the true definition of a recession, and that the U. S. is not in a recession at all. Right on cue, the media, including so-called fact-checkers and Facebook, adopted the shiny new definition and started declaring as “false” claims that the U. S. is in a recession and marking as “misinformation” posts by people who used the traditional definition to speak of the U. S. being in a recession. Even some economists went along with the ruse, most notably Paul Krugman of the New York Times, who insists that “real” experts don’t use the definition of a recession that everyone was using until two weeks ago. Krugman finally settled on the notion that it doesn’t really matter what you call the economy right now. Krugman went so far as to declare that the economy was enjoying a “Biden boom” because of all the jobs created over the last year and a half. Krugman failed to mention that most of those jobs are simply people being allowed to return to work after they were forced out of work by the pandemic, but I’m sure he would call that a technicality.
So, despite the number of people who have left work, despite record-breaking inflation, despite gas prices continuing to be high (though not as high – gas here is down about 40 cents but remains over $4/gallon – whoopie!), and despite the negative economic growth, Biden, Krugman, Facebook and our always trustworthy media elites want you to know that we are not in a recession. In fact, the economy is doing fine. What are you complaining about? So, you’re spending a bit more at the pump and in the grocery store than you have in several decades (actually, a lot more!). Paul Krugman says it doesn’t matter.
Alejandro Mayorkis, director of the Department of Homeland Security, recently announced that the border was secure. I’m so glad! I thought all of those people crossing the border from Mexico into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California meant that the United States was experiencing an unprecedented influx of illegal immigrants, drugs, and human trafficking. It must be American tourists returning from their vacations in Cancun. What else could it be? Mayorkis says the border is secure. In fact, the Biden administration’s immigration policy has created a human tragedy and a threat to national security. Many immigrants, desperate to escape the poverty, crime, and corruption of their home countries, are pouring into the U. S. in hopes of a better future. Many are women and children and not a few are children traveling on their own. They have nowhere to go. There are also great numbers of single men, some of them criminals who are lost in the crowds. As well, drug cartels and human traffickers are exploiting the situation, introducing fentanyl and sex slaves into the country. But don’t worry about it, Mayorkis says. Don’t believe your lying eyes. The border is secure.
Here is what Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda chief, had to say about gaslighting: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such a time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
The Russian Hoax. The Stolen Election. The Origins of COVID. We Must Lockdown or Everyone Will Die. The Mostly Peaceful Protests. Now, The Non-Recession and The Secure Border.
These are the names of just a few of the lies our political leaders and media elites have attempted to push on the American people, some more successfully than others. Perhaps I’m just cynical, but I’ve read a lot of American history, and I don’t personally recall a time when the accepted strategy of the ruling political and media class was to insist that the people were not seeing what they were clearly seeing with their own eyes. Politicians have always lied, of course. The media have always been biased, of course. But they usually saved their lies for those matters on which the regular folks had little information or insight. When Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964, few Americans had the necessary information to conclude that the Resolution was at least partly based on a fiction. Today, Americans are far better informed and have much greater access to events as they unfold. Cameras are everywhere. Journalists are everywhere. News cycles are 24/7/365. The strategy today seems to be to insist that the American people are not seeing what they are seeing, are not experiencing what they are experiencing. This is true gaslighting. “No, you are not experiencing an economy that is shrinking. No, you are not paying more for items at the grocery store. Sure, gas is higher, but it’s not my fault (oops! gas prices are down a touch! You’re welcome!). No, you are not seeing masses of people running over the border and entering the country at will. No, you are not experiencing more crime in those cities with progressive DAs and catch and release policies. No, Russia and China are not rattling their swords and exploiting a weak president. No, you aren’t seeing a president in mental decline.”
The list goes on.
In order for a republic to work, for the people to vote into office their representatives, the people must be well informed. It’s the job of the press to keep the government on its toes in keeping the public well informed. When the government and the press work in concert to purposefully misinform the public, to convince the public that they are not seeing or experiencing what they actually are seeing and experiencing, then that is the foundation of State-ism – the exaltation of the State as the primary institution in each citizen’s life, their source of what is true and what is false, of what is right and what is wrong, of their material needs, and the object of the first loyalty. We are quickly developing a ruling class that demands that the people acquiesce to the State definition of what is and what is not. That way leads to totalitarian rule.
Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). The truth sets us free whether it is a spiritual truth or a material truth. The American people have a right to the truth. The truth is not a pawn in some politician’s strategy for keeping power, or the media’s strategy for influencing the national agenda. The truth, as they say, is its own reward.
The only check the American people have on their political leadership is our right to vote. The only check the American people have on the media elites is the TV remote. We must not allow those who attempt to gaslight the people to be successful in their efforts. The buck stops with us.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.