By definition, a fact is a truth: “something that has actual existence” or “a piece of information presented as having objective reality” (thank you, Merriam-Webster online). For the past several years, people in our government (wave hello, Kellyanne) have been downplaying the importance of actual facts. They have a new name for the lies that they tell baldly that fly in the face of the facts that they don’t particularly like – alternative facts.
Huh. I’m pretty sure no one ever said, “As a matter of alternative fact…” Should they have, they would have sounded utterly ridiculous. Besides, the whole point of a fact is to be truth, information that is correct, or scientifically proven. The only “alternative” to truth is lies.
Obviously, that’s the first problem with our (the U.S.’s) government’s use of “alternative facts”. But there is a more sinister reason to use the word “alternative”. Consider the following and how you may feel about them:
- Nicotine alternative
- Sugar alternative
- Alternative medicine
Do those phrases make you feel hopeful? Do they make you feel as if the alternative is surely better than the original? It’s how they are supposed to make you feel. They are supposed to make you believe that you have a choice and the ‘alternative’ one may actually be better.
So, if you don’t consider that there are not choices for a fact – it either is, or isn’t – and so many are inclined to believe the mouthpieces of the White House and US Government (because previously, you could), the ‘alternative fact’ sounds pretty damn appealing.
This is just one tiny piece of how our current administration is chipping away at our nation’s integrity and its people’s ability to trust its leaders. It’s not even about this particular administration in the short term, although that is horrific enough. But going forward: erosion of trust, lack of confidence in our leaders, the knowledge that power is power and most of the people we have elected across the country have fallen victim to it, and slaves to their mighty backers instead of the people who stood in the voting booths.
Fact: It’s going to be very hard to recover from this. We are being broken and history will not be kind.