Fake news? Beyond the pale

Dear Editor:

I’m writing this from the perspective of two days after a violent mob attacked the United States Capitol, resulting in several deaths, significant damage to our Capitol building, and irreparable damage to the stature of the United States. 

This mob was driven by the spread of lies. Lies that were spread intentionally, for the purpose of inflaming a group of people, so they would donate money to Donald J. Trump and those allied with him.

How could so many Americans, undoubtedly many who care deeply for our country and its people, come to the point that they were willing to smash windows, destroy offices, and threaten our Congress and their staff – all while chanting, laughing and high-fiving one another on social media? 

One of the reasons is exactly the kind of social and information, isolation, and disengagement being promoted by Joe LaFiandra in your paper. He makes numerous claims in his article which have been roundly dismissed as untrue by reputable sources. He promotes “news” organizations that are proven regularly to have significant bias, of the sort he blames reputable news organizations of having. And he encourages disengagement from curated news, in a way that will further intensify the echo chamber currently being experienced by people.

If we don’t hear alternative points of view, or we don’t believe anyone, ever, who contradicts our point of view in the slightest way, or if we don’t ever accept that there is nuance and grey area between viewpoints, we will continue to divide as Americans and drift further and further apart until we can’t talk at all. Violence is all we would have left. 

The answer to our current situation is more engagement, locally and nationally, with each other, with others who have varying points of view. None of us is right about everything, or knows enough about everything to have an opinion about everything.

We trust our representatives to do exactly that, represent us, in matters great and small because we cannot know everything.

I trust the election officials who certified our elections, because I cannot demand that everyone prove to me everything about every topic. We have processes in place, and I trust they were followed. I trust that the courts who examined the lawsuits and found them without merit. Why? Because I can’t demand that every claim be proven to me.

And likewise, we have to be able to find media organizations we can trust as well. We have to be able to believe in what we read and watch. Discounting and demonizing all other news organizations except the one you watch is an unreasonable position to take. The Washington Post is not a leftist organization because it says the President has lied to us. Newsmax is not a reputable news organization because it says he did not. 

I’m sure Mr. LaFiandra was not aware that those he was addressing would violently rise up against the United States, but I hope that now seeing what his recommended news regime has wrought upon us all, he, and the Blue Ridge Leader, will think twice about encouraging Americans to withdraw, pull back from any information other than what is true.

Let’s not further divide our nation. 

Rob Martin


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