Lying Liars and the Marks Who Love Them

Dear Reader (Especially any of you who’ve been busy rescuing baby elephants from manholes),

I know it may not seem like it, but I’m actually weirdly tolerant of wrongness. It may not always come across that way in my writing, but that’s because writing about and debating ideas is different from dealing with people. I kind of like wrong people—i.e. people with wrong opinions and beliefs—if they come by their wrongness honestly. I’ve had fun and interesting conversations with everyone from animists, to Communists, to all manner of reactionaries (I even loved a whole book by a guy who thinks we’d be better off as serfs). Hell, I’m really good friends with David French, and he thinks Aquaman was a great movie.  

What I have a big problem with is lies and the lying liars who tell them. Part of it is just the insult. Some lies rest on the assumption that I’m stupid enough to believe them and cowardly enough not to say anything. But it’s also the feeling of being manipulated. If you’re a big sports fan, you’ve probably met someone who claimed to be a lifelong fan of your team when you know they got into it only when, say, the Mets started doing well. If they said, “Yeah, I wasn’t really into them until recently, but now I’ve got the fever,” you’d have no problem. But when they try to act like they’ve put in the time all those years, it can piss you off. It’s not the best analogy, but that feeling is sort of what I’m talking about.

Anyway, if you want to tell me that Stalin was a great leader who had to do terrible things to drag the Soviet Union into the 20th century, I can have a fun conversation with you. Even more fun is finding the rare fool who actually buys the more theoretical arguments for Stalin. If you believe he was a necessary instrument of the Hegelian dialectic to hasten the inevitable triumph of scientific socialism, I can talk to you for hours. But if you start telling me that Stalin didn’t kill lots of people or some other B.S., I’ll start to lose my temper. And if it becomes clear that you don’t actually believe what you’re peddling but you think it’s necessary to lie for the cause, I’ll really get angry.

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