Unbearable Truths About Our Current Political Moment What happens to a people when it can’t handle the truth?
Victor Davis Hanson – May 11, 2020
“You can’t handle the truth!”
—Col. Nathan R. Jessep, “A Few Good Men”
Sometimes the truth is like mythical kryptonite. It radiates power and yet promises great destruction. And so reality is to be left alone, encased in lead, and kept at bay.
Take the Chinese genesis of the COVID-19 epidemic. We started in February with the usual Chinese deceptions about their role in the birth, transmission, and worldwide spread of the virus.
No one, apparently except Mike Bloomberg and Bill Gates, was surprised by the accustomed politically correct prevarications of the Chinese-purchased World Health Organization, whose transparent lies were passed off as truth—and led to tens of thousands of deaths.
On cue, our own obsequious media accepted Chinese and globalist myths—their shared antipathy for President Trump meant whatever he is for or says, they are against and deny.
But by late March the bits and pieces of the truth had emerged. All that gobbledygook talk of a Chinese wet market, of patient-zero bats, snakes, pangolins and such, were likely ruses to deflect attention from a conveniently nearby level-4 Chinese virology lab.
We are beginning to learn that Chinese scientists were conducting research on—surprise, surprise—coronaviruses in general, and in particular, methods to enhance their lethality, all for the ostensibly exalted humanitarian aim of discovering cures and vaccinations, although how that was to be so was never quite disclosed.
China’s patient zero almost weekly was backdated by communist party officials from late January to mid-November. When the lying is exhausted, we may well learn the virus was known to the Chinese even earlier.
In addition, we learned that China variously threatened to cut off medical supplies in transit to the United States. It stopped all flights in and out of Wuhan on January 23, but called America racist for waiting a week until January 31 to issue a travel ban on China—including, but not limited to, ending direct flights to the United States from Wuhan. Consider the Chinese communist logic: running-dog American capitalists mimicked Beijing in forbidding Chinese from flying—but only after a week-long interlude of bourgeoise debate and puerile reflection.
Were the Chinese embarrassed that they had accused Washington of being racist for belatedly doing exactly what they had done earlier? Of course not. In their eyes, weak decadent Westerners welcome such help in aiding their own self-abnegation and debasement.
Unbearable American Weakness in the Face of a Growing Chinese Lie
China went on to spin lies that the U.S. military deliberately had created the virus to harm the poor noble Chinese. They seemed intent on peddling to the Trump-hating leftist media the talking points that China as the victimized “other” served as a convenient object of racial hatred by the deplorables and clingers, who, of course, nurse their racism on “conspiracy theories” about viral labs.
China destroyed the original data concerning the discovery of the virus. Brave, gullible and naïve scientists who were willing early on to speak up about the existential danger of an epidemic ended up “disappeared” or were silenced. News censorship stopped critical early foreign knowledge of the Chinese epidemic. On various online metrics, China’s case numbers and fatalities from the virus calcified, as if the country with the most cases magically now had suffered among the least. If it was good to lie about the Wuhan virus’s birth, then all the better to lie about its adolescent spread and mature lethality.
China’s behavior follows years of patent and copyright theft, forced technological appropriation, dumping, currency manipulation, crackdowns on Hong Kong democracy, and sophisticated espionage within the United States. It now threatens sovereign nations in Asia and the Pacific, if they dare blame China for the pandemic. Its military embarks on more aggression in the South China Sea, as rumors swirl of its stealthy violations of nuclear proliferation agreements.
Americans began grumbling that China almost seemed to have made war against the United States, in a peremptory fashion that dwarfed Pearl Harbor. At least it seems so when tallying up the over 80,000 dead, the trillions in destroyed market equity and GDP, and, most importantly, the likely larger human toll from suicides, family and substance abuse, lapsed medical procedures and tests, and wrecked businesses and lives from the lockdown.
So that was an unbearable truth. But what to do?
Cancel U.S. debt held by China? That is likely a terrible idea that would undermine the world’s entire financial system.
Cut off all relations? Embargos, sanctions, social distancing on a transnational scale? Expel all Chinese students? Bring home every American business in China? Seems unlikely.
The truth is that Americans know that to restore deterrence they must do something. But that “something” is equally difficult in the case of a 1.4-billion-person nuclear nation, which has systematically leveraged and compromised many of America’s own corporate, entertainment, media, and academic elite.
The result is that everyone from Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates to the CNN/MSNBC crowd know the truth that China despises the United States, feels that America is a spent and increasingly toxic society, and is ever more emboldened to humiliate its rival. Yet Beijing wagers that we will not do much, even if we could. It sees that weakness as laxity to be exploited, not at all magnanimity to be appreciated, much less reciprocated. So, for a while longer we know the truth, but apparently it is unbearable and preferably should not be known and just go away. And it probably will.