Orchestrated Amnesia

Remember when the NYT kept track of the lies told by Rump? The Joker has proven to lie at such breakneck speed that efforts to establish a public record have ceased, thus creating ideal conditions for orchestrated amnesia.

Those who cannot remember the past are prime prey for the dictator. Recall Stalin’s show trials. Rewrite history, erase public memory, and control the future: the recipe for tyranny.

How long does memory survive? Generations? Decades? Years? Days? If memory doesn’t at least last months then we have already lost the struggle to preserve our free thought in the face of a campaign of orchestrated amnesia.

A coronavirus case study: Warned in early January of the oncoming pandemic Rump lied about it for more than two months. After the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, Team Rump along with their partner Fox news began a campaign to erase the history of the prior two months. Can we even remember what we read, saw and heard a couple of months prior?

The internet, supposedly a tool for democratic empowerment, is used to abet tyranny by sowing confusion and erasing memory. Only memory allows us to discern whether statements are true or false, relevant or diversionary, probative or inflammatory. Knowledge requires memory.

Clickbait culture is poison to memory, spreading inflammatory unmoored information tidbits. Has the digital right to be forgotten become the right to erase memory? Have tech giants abetting tyrants in their mutual quest for profit erased free thought?

2020 was supposed to be a year of clear vision. But if we can’t think straight then we can’t see straight. Accurate memory is vital for free thought. On November 3 we will learn if all hope is lost.

William A. Cohn, a member of the California Bar, teaches critical thinking in Prague and online.