I have the impression that some people enjoy being lied to. They seem to particularly like big lies which they can cling fast to, and help promulgate themselves, and dedicate their lives to with a zealous passion. I suppose that’s why they read newspapers published by billionaires, which tell them daily that the poor and disenfranchised are the cause of all their woes.
In turn, I suppose that’s how communities battered by austerity and now dependent on food banks and local goodwill come to believe that their best hope is to vote into power a party of millionaires which has presided over a decade of cuts to welfare provision, whilst simultaneously spending billions on military intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
If their former prime minister — marketed to them as rebel leader, anti-establishment scoundrel, man of the people — is factually shown to be a pathological liar, the very same people do not care. At first they may claim principles, defending the man, calling the claims themselves lies. But in the end, they simply say: “It doesn’t matter; we rather like his lies.”
They like his lies, because they’re also their lies. They are the lies they want to believe in, and they will believe in them, regardless of the evidence. People like lies which make them feel warm and fuzzy inside. They also like lies which cause them hypertension, which cause their face to turn purple, and rant and shout at length.
More of those lies are bubbling to the surface now, the muttering in online forums becoming a clamour. Though we may once have laughed at the chap from Barnsley who told a Channel 4 journalist that he voted for Brexit to keep the Muslims out, now we realise that sentiment is widespread. Imagine the horror of those voting to stop immigration from the east waking up to discover they have an Indian prime minister.
I’m sorry to say this, but the bulk of our population does not have a sophisticated understanding of diverse identities. A Tory member might be derided for likening our new prime minister — a practicing Hindu — to members of al-Qaeda, but that is exactly the dynamic nowadays witnessed on school playgrounds and in the workplace everywhere.
Muslim, Islam and “Islams” — not to mention al-Qaeda, ISIS, terrorist and extremist — have become catch-all terms deployed to describe anyone of a non-white background. This is of course incredibly annoying for the Hindu or Christian with distinct beliefs and identities of their own, but the common racist really isn’t interested in the particulars.
Extreme fringes of disenfranchised minorities might now feel the need to make those distinctions absolutely clear, so there can be no doubt. “We’re not Muslims!” they chant, sick of decades being the target of anti-Muslim hate crime. But they have missed the point: racists aren’t intelligent people. They judge people based on the quantity of melanin in their epidermis. The term Muslim is simply politically-correct shorthand for the non-white other.
If you have spent the past two decades blaming the Muslims for your predicament as a brown non-Muslim, sick of being tarred with the same brush, you’ve missed the point. Many victims of so-called Islamophobia happen to be non-Muslims. That’s because anti-Muslim sentiment is simply a mask for good old-fashioned racism. Muslims are just people like anyone else, of whom some are good and some are bad. The fact that they are disproportionately presented as the evil other ought to give us pause for thought.
What is actually going on? Well, let’s see. One fifth of the UK population — 14.5 million people and 30% of children — now live in poverty. While energy companies reap gargantuan profits, millions of people cannot afford to heat their homes. Hospital waiting times are at an all time high. Pay has stagnated, while the cost of living is spiralling out of control. The nation is simultaneously being prepared for massive tax rises, cuts to public services and the prospect of war with Russia and Iran.
But never mind. We have lies, and the lies taste good. The lies are our kind of lies, which make us feel good about ourselves, giving us a buzz. They’re the kind of lies which mean we neither have to take our leaders to account, nor ourselves. They’re lies about insignificant people who have no real impact on our lives, who can be casually blamed for every ill of society, though they have little to do with it at all.
They’re lies that enable white males — whipped into a frenzy by a diet of unending lies — to embark on violent terror campaigns against the foreign other, and yet still not be labelled terrorists, nor receive wall-to-wall media coverage for weeks on end. We are living through incredibly hard times for so many, but we choose to believe the narrative set out for us by billionaire media moguls — amongst the very people who benefit most from the status quo.
The latter have reason to promulgate lies unceasingly. But what about the rest of us? Let the people be guided by traditional wisdom, whatever it is they hold fast to:
God will say: “This is the Day when the truthful will benefit from their truthfulness.” For them are gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever, God being pleased with them, and they with Him. That is the great attainment.Quran (Islam)
The highest faith is the pursuit of truth, and higher still to live truthfully.Guru Nanak (Sikhi)
Nothing is higher than the law of righteousness. The weak overcomes the stronger by the law of righteousness. Truly that law is truth; therefore, when a man speaks the truth, they say, “He speaks righteousness”; and if he speaks righteousness, they say, “He speaks the truth!” For both are one.Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (Hinduism)
There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.Book of Proverbs (Judaism and Christianity)