In this time of rancor and ill-will toward our fellow man – wait a minute, isn’t it still the holiday season? – we can all agree on something: Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is an impartial source for nonpartisan definitions. And here is a definition from Merriam-Webster:
Pandemic: “An outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area, such as multiple countries or continents, and typically affects a significant proportion of the population.”
That sounds like what we are experiencing with COVID-19.
Yet the latest from the post-election stump, at a recent post-election stumping, was spelled out to a mostly maskless crowd by Bob Good, congressman-elect from Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, who conjectures that COVID-19 is “a virus, it’s not a pandemic ... this is a phony pandemic.”
While not found in Merriam-Webster, but descriptive of Good’s statement, is the psychotherapeutic phraseology “willing intertransactional deception,” more commonly understood as “selling the B.S./buying the B.S.”
So let’s play a game. Which of the following quotes was not actually said by Good to the crowd:
1. “(You’re) a group of people that gets it.”
2. “And remember, what separates us from Democrats and Socialists is our ability to accessorize (said while waving an automatic rifle).”
3. “You stand up against tyranny.”
4. “Thank you for being here today, thank you for saying ‘no’ to the insanity.”
If you guessed No. 2, you win. Good would have said No. 2, but while folks gave him a microphone, they apparently drew the line at giving him an automatic rifle just to make a point.
In listening to Good, we know one thing for sure. We know from experience that there is a better than 50-50 chance that what Congressman-elect Good told the crowd will now become the latest mantras for other newly elected officials.
We also know there is a lot going on in those quotes, a lot that begs comment.
1. If by “a group of people that gets it” Good means COVID-19, well yes, better than a 50-50 chance he’s right.
3. Regarding “standing up to tyranny,” we go again to Merriam-Webster: “Tyranny: A government in which absolute power is vested in a single ruler.” So, people who voted for a guy who acted like he was above the law, in accordance with his Attorney General’s opinion that, “(There are) no limits on the president’s authority to act on matters which concern him or his own conduct,” and who cheered the same guy who yearns for “single ruler” status, are now being told that they are standing up against “absolute power.” What kind of philosophical contortionist yoga do you have to do to arrive at a place where this sounds like consistent logic, let alone sounds sane?
4. That segues perfectly into “Thank you for saying ‘no’ to the insanity.” What? To understand this, we go back to definitions and look at a word that is now in vogue: Gaslighting (formerly known as propaganda).
Gaslight: “A form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception or judgment.”
So Good follows the Steve Bannon/Donald Trump playbook, telling his crowd that by casting reason aside and wholeheartedly buying into and conjuring up more conspiracy theories and allegations that have no basis in fact, they are fighting insanity.
Well, at least we now know there are multiple words for that: gaslighting, or as previously referenced, willing intertransactional deception.
When hit with a barrage of outrageous assertions, it is understandably hard to tell whether something is really true or not. People need something they can fasten their anchors to. So find hope in the fact that, in our country, there is an exercise to decide what is true or what is false: by voting.
As 2020 showed us, that’s always to surefire way of getting an undisputed, decided-once-and-for-all outcome.
Josh Joswick lives in Bayfield.