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The ‘Right’s’ War on Truth

The ‘Right’s’ War on Truth

Wednesday, 10 February, 2021 - 11:15

It is not without its indications that “right” and “truth”, at least in Arabic, have the same linguistic origin (Haq and Haqiqa, respectively). With that, the differences between them are many. For “right” is a broad, abstract concept that can be controversial; it is difficult for one who claims to possess it to always prove that this is the case.


Those who have differences or are in dispute may share a claim to being right. As for the truth, it is a palpable event - great or small - that is rarely susceptible to misinterpretation and being shared by two factions, as the identity of the culprit is clear, and so is that of the victim. It is an event whose existence can be proven, and it can be exposed if it were concealed or obscured. This is not done with ideas and arguments in the first place; searching, experimenting, judicial investigations, and police activities reveal it.


The right is not necessarily equivalent to the sum of accumulated truths, but it is certainly not a negation of those truths. When this becomes the case, it means that there is a problem with the righteousness of this right and its advocates’ claims that it is right.


This happens particularly with those who see themselves as possessing every kind of right and ascribe absolute righteousness to themselves. Sometimes, they don’t find earthly arguments sufficient for reinforcing their claims, so they claim to speak in God’s name to fortify their message. Thus, they designate themselves the “party of God” or the “partisans of God”, thereby inviting the Divine to their side.


However, their path may lead them to come in conflict with all truths: they falsify, deny or fabricate them, or they suppress them or kill those who know the truth to prevent its revelation. Truths work against their “right,” and the “right” of those who find themselves in such a situation is rarely righteous.


The clash between “the right” and truths, in our region and in the world, is relatively old. “The right” has always been skeptical of freedom, the judiciary and figures, because all of them, in different ways, may lead to the truth. But things don’t stay this way for long. Some of this absolute righteousness becomes a pretext for tyranny. Some of it becomes outdated. Some of it is tested by trials and is met with failure...


On the other hand, the number of people who know more may increase, as could the number of those who, with their own flesh and bones, discover that the cost of this “right” is much greater than that of its nonexistence. The number of those who are bored by the promotion of this “right”, which has not changed much since the 1950s, may also increase. More significantly, it may become clear to many that this “right” is a source of power and livelihood for the very advocates of this “right” but a source of subjugation and plunder for them.


Overall, this “righteousness” becomes antithetical to the truth, unable to coexist with it. Indeed, eradicating and destroying facts become a requisite for its existence.


There are exemplary cases that have become very well known for their insistence on forcibly denying the contradiction between “the right” and truth. Under totalitarian regimes, for example, the insistence persists that scientific and other truths are consistent with “the right” which those regimes defend. This is why regimes of “the right”, before they fall, resort to falsifying or fabricating truths, generalizing lies and punishing those who say they had seen it or present hard facts gathered from reality to contradict “the right’s” narrative. The truth becomes, as a famous Baathist saying goes, “a weakening of the nation’s temperament.”


American scholar, Lisa Wedeen, previously described the rhetoric in Assad’s Syria as structured around an “as if”; that is, let us go about lying and pretending we believe. Before Wedeen, Czeslaw Miłosz, the Polish poet and novelist, discussed the alteration and falsification of speech in communist Poland and people’s adoption of “Kitman” or “Taqiya” in their socialization, one that fails to connect anyone with anyone else. A few days ago, Omar Kaddour, a colleague, suggested, sarcastically of course, that we ought to say that Israel had killed Lokman Salim. We would thus be able to turn the page on the issue and stifle the truth in the way that the “righteous” have desired.


For the Lebanese in particular, the things they have learned since 2005 have been astonishing. After Rafik Hariri and his companions’ assassination, and the subsequent successive assassinations of politicians, journalists and officers, discovering the truth became the most pressing demand. But a mere year later, through a war we were dragged into, abiding by “the right” returned to block the truth: oh God!


Israel, with the US behind it, is attacking us, and you want to identify the murderer! The resistance was put up against the judiciary. What couldn’t be ascertained with certainty was put up against what could be. The only acceptable “truth” was to say that Israel killed Hariri. That is what fits in with “the right.” Whoever says the opposite exonerates Israel!


Over many years, the truth has been working against the “the right” in our area. Over many years, “the right” has been working against the truth. Denying it. Falsifying it. Murdering those who carry it. This cannot, in any sense, be righteous.


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