Silence Is Not Golden

In the face of the recent shut-down of the E.P.A. (for all intents and purposes) including the directive to all employees to basically keep their collective mouths shut, one must object and do so loudly. I swore I was not going to allow myself to get all riled up by what this man does — after all, we saw this coming, didn’t we? — but the attempt to gag a Federal agency cannot pass unnoticed, especially an agency that can prove the lie that climate change is a Chinese hoax.

In looking for Voltaire’s famous comment about one’s right to speak, I came across an equally pithy and even profound comment that I would like to elaborate upon:

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

This is indeed profound and so very timely because it appears as though this Administration is losing no time whatever in doing precisely that, making us believe absurdities. What else is the nonsense about “alternative facts”? It appears as though the plan is to confuse the citizens of this country with alleged facts which are made up on the spot — such things as the claim allegedly made by Trump that the Women’s March on Washington was in protest over Obama’s presidency. If it weren’t pathological it would be funny. But it is pathological, it is becoming an almost surreal pattern.

One must hope that the Congress, fighting as it is with one hand tied behind its back, will not be cowed by this man and will stand in opposition to this blatant attempt to silence dissent and force-feed untruths to a stupefied public. One would also hope that members of the Fourth Estate would stand up and scream “foul,” but so far they have not shown the courage to take this man on. He is fearsome and clearly capable of silencing the media by simply telling them what he wants them to hear or refusing to allow them into his daily briefing sessions or press conferences. I am reminded of the shell game where the object is to confuse in order to win the game.

If the attempt to silence the media and bring it to heel succeeds this country will be in very serious trouble indeed. With the Newspeak that is coming out of Washington coupled with the recent attempt to shut down the voice of the E.P.A. in order to keep people in the dark about what is and what is not happening to our planet, we are closing in on the next step Voltaire notes, the commission of atrocities. Voltaire knew whereof he spoke and we would do well to listen.

In the meantime we must hope that members of Congress who still have a conscience — and there appear to be a few of them remaining — will speak out against the latest blatant attempt to gain control of the public mind. The rest of us can write to our representatives and hope they read and respond to what we write — and take action. And we can pray that the opposition to this most recent attempt to keep us all ignorant is opposed with loud and coherent voices. Silence is not golden. Not in this case.


22 thoughts on “Silence Is Not Golden

  1. It saddened me to see that ”he’ thought the Dakota Pipeline deserved to move forward — such an insensitive gesture as if those who deserve our land most are not worth considering.

    he should come inspenct the desecration of the Amazon where oil companies still say they’ve done no harm…..

  2. Thank you for this excellent and timely post. Yes, we must speak loudly and with clarity, as you have done. I will re-blog this and hope that more do the same, to reach as many as we can … as many as will listen. I fear more the lines of communication being shut down than anything else he has done or will do.

  3. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    I frequently share Hugh Curtler’s posts, as he is among my favourite bloggers – well spoken, intellectual, and his ideas are most always relevant to what is happening in our world. What is happening in our world today is what some of us have feared since the November election: the flow of information from government agencies to the press and the public is being curtailed, shut down, and we must protest this loudly. If you read nothing else today, please take a moment to read this post by Hugh, and if you feel so inclined, pass it along. This needs to be protested loud and clear, for if we are kept in the dark about what our government is doing, if we are kept in the dark about what is happening in our nation, we will soon lose our ability to make choices about our own future.

  4. Much to react to and act upon here, Hugh. I am toying with emailing a massive amount of media requests to all the agencies that have been muzzled and/or told to funnel all requests for information and interviews to their new “handlers” for lack of a better word. Just to show the absurdity of such rules. I do hope conservatives who think too much Is already overly centralized in the federal government push back hard on this, as do state agencies, universities and private industries that rely on access to federal agency info, forms, personnel. Obviously news organizations and the general public — which has the same right to public info as reporters or other agencies – fight this fiercely, too.

    Such muzzling and centralization have all the hallmarks of the first steps of a totalitarian regime.

    In defense of my colleagues in journalism, I must disagree with you — respectfully, of course! — and your comment about the Fourth Estate not having the courage to take this man on. Au contraire, my friend. News organizations are fighting Trump and his aides at every turn, with hard-hitting fact-based opinion commentary, hard, fact-based original straight reporting and face to face in news conferences. The new White.House press secretary was so addled at two recent news conferences he looked like a strange, shouting clown at the first, and withered so much under nonstop questions at the second he babbled, groveled and prett much wet his pants. If you can, you should look up up Nina Totenberg’s grilling of him. Newspapers ranging from the mainstream NY Times and Washington Post to the alternative paper Mother Jines have given the muzzling high-profile coverage. Many, many papers have run editorials and columns saying the White House was wrong or lied about the size of the inauguration crowd — a steady pounding thst led to Kellyanne Conway’s comment about alternative facts. When a group of professors sued Trump earlier this week over his foreign investments, etc., the story made the front page of the NY Times. The New Yorker magazine posts blistering assessments of events, and Trump, each day on its website. And more.

    Sorry to sound preachy. But journalists aren’t on the sidelines. I’m actually quite proud of my profession these past few weeks.

    But, yes, neither they nor any of us– as you said, Hugh–can let up on the throttle. Silence is not golden, indeed. Not when it is imposed, not when sit idle and silent. This guy is incompetent. Some of those who work for him seem even worse — they’re idiots. And yet they’re grabbing power. That’s dangerous..

      • You’re welcome, Hugh! And like I wrote before, I hope I don’t sound too contrarian or cranky but there is some dogged journalism going on. The key is that it will need to continue. Trump and his aides won’t let up, either in their badgering of journalists or their incoherent, unethical and, we’ll see how far they stretch it, possibly their illegal behavior.

        It’s been funny to watch and read some of the Trumplets’ responses, in which they say they want to focus on policy decisions and wish the media would, too. But they, and Trump himself, almost immediately negate what they just said by tweeting or sputtering crybaby comebacks about negative media coverage, or dragging in some wild sideshow idea that overshadows serious policy debate. Today, for instance, Trump called for a “major investigation” into voter fraud in the past election, even though his own lawyers have said — in court filings — that there was no fraud. It’s all about the Trumpet’s ego. He doesn’t like that he did not win the popular vote, so he’ll spend a ton of money trying to show that he did. And if the results aren’t there, naturally, he’ll blame it on the investigation process or some new scapegoat.

        But we all need to hold him accountable on that stuff, as you and I have both said — all of us, journalists and the public. To that end, I hope folks support news outlets that consistently do serious journalism, hard and original reporting and persistent questioning of officials. I guess that means, in some ways, buying their newspapers and magazines, tuning into broadcasts with actual reporting, not talking heads, and supporting the businesses that advertise in those publications. It takes time and money to do good journalism, and the fact is that it is an ever-degrading financial climate for most news outlets. So they need our support more than they have in a long time.

        Thanks for the platform! (By the way, I’m glad you are back and doing your own courageous challenging of Trump and the ilk that follow him!) It is courageous. If they can put a gag order on federal agencies, why not on web sites that criticize the president? God, I hope that day does not come, though.

      • You’ve hit on the key point here which is getting people to take account of what serious journalists are doing not just headlines or FB memes. Which means buying into online versions if not the paper copies and taking the time to inform themselves … Time. Sigh. Twitter is at least somewhere that serious journalism can get out its message in short, sharp bursts and reach those unwilling/unable to spend money or take time. I’m liking the new Alt science sites springing up. #resist. Keep on pushing!

      • Thanks! Yes, time. We have it. We need to use it more wisely. I like the use for Twitter you mention — a concision that’s similar to the Golden Era of newspapers, when papers ran most of their stories in one-column format with Twitter-like headlines that were summaries of the stories. You could scan the top of a page, get the gist of six or seven major stories just by reading the extended headlines.

      • The real problem here is that those who do try to speak out, the courageous journalists of whom you speak, may have their voices silenced. Trump simply needs to refuse them an audience, and he is inches away from doing just that. It will take real courage to hold this man’s feet to the fire. He is powerful and the Congress seems inclined to let him have his way.

  5. I wish you good luck. If there remains conscience in Congress I assume it belongs to the minority Democrats. none of the majority Republicans seem to be saying much against him and in fact must be siding with him, having passed his appointments so far when they can’t be ignorant of his intentions through those appointees.
    I imagine he expects a very easy ride now he’s told the spooks that he likes them really. No doubt he’ll cosy up to some of the fourth estate and shut the rest out. Divide and conquer. It’s going to take some humongously big balls to face him down and say NO, as he should have been told at a very young age.
    Europe is worried, Putin is no doubt laughing and the U.S. will be suffering if the oil drilling, the fracking and the pipelines go ahead.

    • We are all going to need good luck in the coming months! I do believe you have figured out his strategy! Make sure you have plenty of booze on hand; it’s going to be a long haul!

  6. Hugh, Voltaire’s quote is quite meaningful. Our new President is relentless in his effort to confuse the truth. People poking around Russian influence, raise voter fraud issue and investigate. Some of his stuff is related to his fragile ego, but I think more of it to distract us as he steals Jill’s marbles. We must watch his actions not his words. Keith

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