Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Enlightenment: German Edition

One of the enduring myths of old regime Prussia was the White Lady. Allegedly when a Prussian monarch was slated for death the White Lady appeared on a stair case. German speaking enlighteners hoped upon hope that proving there was no such thing as ghosts despaired of their failure to purge this mythic vision from the popular imagination. They didn't, however, quit trying to purge this mythic vision from the popular imagination because, they correctly thought, that purging this mythic, which is to say incorrect, vision from the popular imagination would benefit the population at large in two ways. The first would be the specific falsehood and the second would be the general. It was an optimistic  assessment of humanities ability to learn the difference between fact and fiction. Despite the specific failure, humanistic optimist like me support this kind of action. Fictions need to be shown to be fictions.

Today President Obama released his "long form" birth dealio proving he is an actual American citizen. Many on the Intertubes and its related nets are baffled by this decision. Their argument is, essentially, that these birther yahoos can never be satisfied and, therefore, Obama was wrong to try and show that their fictions were, in fact, fictions.

For me, Obama's decision was one more of the many ultimately successful attempts of making facts more powerful than fictions. So, I say, well done young pirate and way to continue the endless and necessary commitment to truth's triumph over lies.

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