Fake news has always been here

Dear Editor,

According to local chatter, another foreign phenomenon has arrived and taken hold of the nation’s attention.  Fake news is here, they say.  I say it has always been here, and in the face, too.

There is ready acknowledgement of slick political propaganda, oratorical voodoo, and rolling of the dice with truth and accuracy.  But most practitioners of the fine art of deception have been very careful when straddling the fine line that separates fact from fantasy, and foolishness from fallacy. They have all gotten very innovative and sophisticated through long experience and increasing sangfroid.  In time, the devious have become very settled in their dissembling.  There were embellishments and distortions (as well as psychoses) but there was an absence of full blown outright dishonesty, be such intellectual, or personal, or spiritual.

Having so said and written, I still table that fake news has been around these parts for a while now, and grows more significant daily.  My definition of fake news is simple and unambiguous: Fake news is those falsehoods spoken or written by fakers.  It is those hard lies that originate with the tricksters who tell them. That much should be inarguable.  It should be inarguable, also, that fake news take many forms in this untruthful society.

There are those political fugitives who flee from truth, whether standing in public or in parliament with one lie after the other issuing forth not just from their lips, but from their pores too.  They are known.  Then there are those activists and pundits who grind out titillations to play to the crowd, and bask in the glow of pulling yet another fast one on a slow audience.  Justice Brandeis once said that the most dangerous people are those who believe they (and they alone) know what truth is.  That is bad enough; the problem arises when they pursue their neuroses at length and at any cost. Historically, these kinds of people have ended up sowing the most destruction.  It does not matter in the local theatre. Guyanese prefer the entertainment of delusion and fiction over the drudgery of the real thing.  The latter is too demanding, too time-consuming, and too boring.  Excitement sells. When the pantheon of domestic divas is observed at work, it is clear that Guyana is well served by superstars in the fakery department, who are overflowing with creativity, imagination, and nuance.  I would have thought that the latter was a monopoly held by yours truly.  Nevertheless, I find it fascinating and repulsive at the same time.  If this is what ensnares the minds and hearts of natives, and what comforts, then this country had better resign itself to the filth and gutter, with nowhere to go.  This should not be found profound; it is just the raw awful truth.

But fake news is only half the story, the tip of the iceberg discerned and spoken about critically.  If memory serves me well, there have been fake letter writers, fake polls, fake voters, and fake marriage(s), at the start of a long sorry list.  There even has been a fake presidency.  Now it does not come higher or better than that. When combined, it is undeniable that Guyana and Guyanese have been in the make-believe business for a long time now. The latest example being the one where a failed drama queen turned fake sensationalist and fake performer for the nation in parliament of all places. If anyone thinks I am speaking of a onetime embassy cocktail hour embarrassment, I encourage thinking again.  There is a rich field of competing company present right over there in downtown Georgetown.  As Churchill once pontificated: truth can be so sensitive, so imperilling, that it must be barricaded from public view by a bodyguard of lies. And there it was for all to behold.  In today’s Guyana, both bodyguards and lies exist abundantly and willingly to obscure and obliterate truth.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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