Veracity vacuum

For a while I have been wondering about what makes certain societies / cultures more receptive to a veracity vacuum. One such society is Russia where everyone simply expects, but also goes along with, the idea that most of what they hear (from the government, from the media, from others) is not true. The default option is to assume it is not true and somehow this is OK.

Another example is the Arab countries where the public at large seems to be curiously accepting of the most preposterous of lies. Or at least is not challenging them. Examples that come to mind are many. The "mother of all wars"; the Iraqi Information Minister; the widely held belief by the "man in the street" across the Arab world that 9/11 was really work of the CIA (and the shock that followed recent admission by Bin Laden in a video that they did it).

The most recent example are rumblings in Arab media about what the "reasons" were for the tsunami disaster in Asia. Some of the choice lunatic fringe suggestions are that the Americans did it; that it was God's punishment for the fornicating ways of tourists in Thailand or that it having happened around Christmas was a clear sign it was directed at non-Muslims.

Can you imagine what would happen if the Daily Telegraph or the LA Times published something saying it was all God's punishment for the mostly Muslim population in Banda Aceh? And yet, that and worse is almost mainstream in a lot of Islamic countries and nobody is really attempting to confront it by saying it is utter garbage. Even if it is evidently utter garbage, there is a need to confront it, to fight it or else garbage is the only thing that is out there.

I will end with a quote. Sheik Fawzan Al-Fawzan is a member of the Senior Council of Clerics, Saudi Arabia's highest religious body. He is also a professor at the Al-Imam University. His religious books are used to teach 5 million Saudi students, both within the country and abroad, including the United States. He said:

"The fact that it happened at this particular time is a sign from Allah. It happened at Christmas, when fornicators and corrupt people from all over the world come to commit fornication and sexual perversion."

Not that any proof is necessary that Muslim clerics don't hold a patent on garbage:

Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS, - "It is now widely reported that at least 5,000 Swedes are dead as a result of the tsunami's which ravaged Thailand and the other lush resorts of that region, and thousands more are unaccounted for...Scarcely a family in Sweden has been untouched by the devastation. Bible preachers say, THANK GOD for it all! We pray for all 20,000 Swedes in the tsunami's wake to be declared dead. These filthy, faggot Swedes have a satanic, draconian law criminalizing Gospel preaching , under which they prosecuted, convicted and sentenced Pastor Åke Green to jail -- thereby incurring God's irreversible wrath....Sweden [is] diseased, blind, perverted, irreversibly cursed of God and damned. We propose to hold these images in the faces of Swedes, as they will be in Hell for all eternity."

And a late edit here, courtesy of Bernie who sent me this 19th century quote from Russia:

"Falsehood. This is the sickness of the Russian state. Falsehood and its sisters, hypocrisy and cynicism.”

So even then, there was so much falsehood. After centuries and centuries, does it just become the only thing there is?

Comments

Miljenko Horvat said…
A review of a book in The Economist makes a point I have made in the past regarding Russia "how the country's rulers in the past century treated their own people as badly as other empires have treated their colonies."
Miljenko Horvat said…
More from The Economist: "Russia .. a land of imitation political parties, stage-managed media and fake social movements, undergirded by the post-modern sense that nothing is genuine. ... called his creation 'sovereign democracy', a term whose vagueness revealed its flexibility."

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