caring what's true

You can’t fight evil with bullshit

Donald Trump has spent years telling outrageous lies. He’s continued to do so since assuming office, even lying about obviously verifiable things like what he’s tweeted about or the size of his inauguration crowd.

He is attacking the idea that truth matters, and trying to make people give up on telling the difference between the truth and a lie. This is dangerously disoriented.

In order to stay oriented, we need to care what’s true. This is easier said than done. In the short term, bullshit is often much more politically convenient than the truth. In the long term, if we create a world in which the truth doesn’t matter, we will end up defenseless. 

We need to keep in mind that being on the right side doesn’t make everything someone might say true. Good people can tell lies. Good people can get things wrong. Their goodness doesn’t make the lie true. 

Being marginalized doesn’t mean that someone always knows what they’re talking about. Being oppressed doesn’t make people infallible; being wrong doesn’t make someone privileged. 

Similarly, not every rumor about a bad person is accurate. Lies told about a bad person are still lies. (And not everyone who has a bad reputation is actually a bad person.)

Be careful about spreading rumors. Learn to recognize fake news, and avoid spreading it. If something doesn’t sound true to you, ask for citations or investigate. Everyone can be wrong, and you don’t have to believe anyone without being persuaded that they are right. Evidence matters, arguments matter. (And being a good person isn’t a substitute for either.)

You can’t fight evil with bullshit. In order to fight evil, we have to care what’s true.