I don’t often shout at books or bang tables. But in November, I interviewed comedian, social commentator and Triggernometry podcast founder and host Konstantin Kisin about his book An Immigrant’s Love Letter to the West. And when I read this excerpt, it caused so much gesticulating on my part that it woke up my baby daughter. That’s about as woke as Konstantin gets though…
Imagine you’re a normal person. The year is 2016. Rightly or wrongly, you believe most of what you see in the media. You believe polls are broadly reflective of public opinion. You believe doctors and scientists are trustworthy and independent. You’re a decent, reasonable person who follows the rules and trusts authority.
Imagine your shock, then, when Brexit – which you were assured wouldn’t happen because it’s a fringe movement led by racists for racists – actually happens. The polls, which widely predicted it wouldn’t succeed, were completely wrong. Not just a little off, but completely and utterly wrong. The experts and media pundits who told you it would conclude with a humiliating defeat for ‘Little Englanders’ were talking bullshit.
‘Oh well,’ you say. ‘I guess these things happen.’
Then, soon after, Donald Trump is running for president. You are told by your favourite media publications that he is going to lose. Some experts, including those at The New York Times, say his opponent has a 99 per cent chance of winning. ‘Three days before the election, Ms Clinton has a projected 312 electoral votes, compared to 226 for Mr Trump. A total of 270 electoral votes are needed to win,’ bragged the Princeton Electoral Consortium. Newsweek even published an election special with the words ‘Madam President’ adorned over a picture of a grinning Hillary Clinton.
So, imagine waking up on the morning after the election to discover that the pollsters, media experts and politicians you still trusted were wrong again. And now, the racist monster they told you would never get near the White House is the leader of the free world.
‘How did this happen?’ you ask yourself. ‘How could all the people in charge of informing me be so wrong?’
‘It was the Russians,’ they tell you. ‘The Russians also did Brexit and now they’ve got Trump elected, too.’
For the next three-and-a-half years you watch as the media and the political class run with the Russia collusion narrative. They tell you the how, the when and the where. The dossiers, the whistle-blowers, the peeing prostitutes. You are desperate for things to make sense again. The Muller Report is coming and it will set your world straight. Evidence of foreign meddling in the 2016 election and Brexit is coming to save your unsettled mind.
Imagine your shock (again) when you discover that Brexit and Trump had little to do with foreign meddling. The screaming about Russians and Brexit dies down as well. Bit by bit, you discover that events which the media and political class told you would not and could not happen not only happened, but happened without some sort of evil interference.
Instead, millions of your fellow citizens voted for them.
Again, you ask, ‘How could this happen?’ and again the media proclaims to have the answer: racism. ‘Your country is racist,’ they tell you. If you’re white, this seems strange to you. Other than a handful of idiots, you’ve never met a racist.
If you’re an ethnic minority immigrant like me, this seems even stranger. Why would people in one of the most welcoming, tolerant countries in the world want to convince themselves their country is racist when it’s so obviously not? Wouldn’t that be self-defeating and a bit weird?
Fortunately, the ‘evidence’ is right there on your TV screen.
Imagine your horror as a gay black actor, Jussie Smollett, is assaulted by ‘Make America Great Again’ hat-wearing thugs who racially abuse him and put a noose around his neck – on his way to pick up a cheeky, late-night Subway, no less.
Imagine your outrage as you see news reports of a bunch of MAGA-hat-wearing kids from a religious school contemptuously confronting a Native American elder. Reza Aslan, a forty-nine-year-old TV host and scholar who should know better, tells you the kid has a ‘punchable face’ – and while you abhor violence, it’s hard to disagree.
Then imagine that for days you watch coverage of these events, with expert after expert, pundit after pundit, sharing and fuelling your outrage about them. With every word, your belief that you are a good person, and that your country is a good country, wavers.
Try to picture when soon after, however, the Jussie Smollett story turns out to be an attention-seeking hoax – from which he escapes convictions for wasting police time. Imagine that you quickly discover that the Native American elder was the one who confronted the kids, and not the other way around.
‘If this is such a racist country, why would they need to make up stories of racism?’ you ask yourself. As you ponder this, you remember that you’ve been expected to believe what others tell you for years. You’re expected to believe that whether you’re male or female is not as simple as you once thought. Whatever you learned about biology at school is wrong. You no longer know how many genders there are and it seems dangerous to try to find out.
Imagine reading that the experts at the American Psychological Association say traditional masculinity is ‘pathological and harmful’. Could this be true? You still want to believe the media and their experts, but now that requires you to think your country is racist, men are bad and gender is a social construct, whatever that means.
It is at this point that a pandemic emerges on the other side of the world.
You are initially unconcerned, but as scenes emerge from Italy and other countries, it is clear that something big is happening. You watch nervously as politicians give press conference after press conference, flanked by experts, to explain the situation. The ‘racist’ Donald Trump shuts down travel from China. In response, the mayor of Florence advises citizens to fight racism by ‘hugging a Chinese person’ like some sort of drunk Westerner after a particularly enjoyable meal at a Chinese restaurant.
Shortly after, Nancy Pelosi, a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, visits San Francisco’s Chinatown to explain, ‘there’s no reason tourists or locals should be staying away from the area because of coronavirus concerns’.
‘Thank God there are some sensible non-racist people who aren’t overreacting,’ you say to yourself.
Imagine watching as Trump doubles down on his ‘racism’ by claiming the virus may have come from a lab in Wuhan. ‘Nonsense’ you think to yourself as you wonder how best to protect yourself and your family from this deadly disease – perhaps by wearing a mask?
You’ve seen visitors from Asian countries wearing masks. But the UK’s chief medical officer tells you not to wear a mask, and to wash your hands instead. As lockdowns are introduced around the world, you diligently follow all the rules. You stay at home, only go out once a day and live off savings or government grants. You are proud to be doing your part. Thanks to you and millions of your fellow citizens the first wave of the pandemic does not overwhelm the healthcare system. While thousands sadly die, you’ve helped to protect the NHS.
Imagine your confusion when the same people who have spent three months telling you masks don’t work and you shouldn’t wear them introduce mask mandates. We’re ‘following the science’, they tell you. This makes little sense – but a pandemic is no time for questions. As you cautiously go to the supermarket, you notice that masks have made people far less likely to socially distance. You remember reading somewhere that bicycle helmets work similarly: they give the wearer more confidence and the result is more accidents and injuries, not fewer.
‘Silly people,’ you say to yourself. ‘If only they would follow government advice.’
Then you turn on your TV to learn that shoppers at your local supermarket aren’t the only ones who have been ignoring the rules. Neil Ferguson, the man whose projections were used as the basis for lockdowns, appears to have broken his own rules to get some action with his married lover. Boris Johnson’s chief advisor, Dominic Cummings, drove halfway across the country to ensure he had a better place to isolate. The journalists who berate him for this are later found to have attended a birthday party in breach of the rules.
The lockdown continues. However, a man is killed in Minneapolis while being arrested for a petty crime. The man is black. The officer is white. The arrest is captured on video and quickly goes viral around the world. Imagine your horror as you watch an officer of the law kneel on another man’s neck until he passes out and later dies. ‘This is disgusting,’ you say to yourself. ‘I hope they throw the book at him.’ Overnight, a huge campaign for racial justice springs up around the world.
No one explains what racism had to do with the incident, but they don’t need to. As you know by now, the West is racist and therefore any time a white person does anything bad to a black person, there can only be one explanation. The fact that an almost identical incident happened to a white man called Tony Timpa in Dallas in 2016 is never mentioned for context.
While the lockdown rules remain in place, the protests against injustice spill out onto the streets. Tens of thousands of people crowd into major cities. Few wear masks and social distancing is non-existent. Clashes with police ensue, and in America protestors loot stores, attack residents and start fires. A retired black police officer called David Dorn is among dozens of people who are murdered in the chaos.
The media describe these events as ‘mostly peaceful protests’ as their reporters stand in front of burning buildings. After months of harsh restrictions, the media and political class offer no criticism of protests which violate every element of lockdown.
After months of telling you to stay at home to avoid spreading Covid, doctors explain that rather than being a mass-Covid-spreading event, ‘protest is a profound public health intervention’.
Big Tech companies go into overdrive to stop the spread of disinformation. All discussions of alternative points of view regarding the efficacy of masks and lockdowns (as well as the origins of the virus) are censored. Attempts to discuss the negative impact of lockdown on health and mental well-being are suppressed.
As the year runs on, with a pivotal American election looming, President Trump promises a huge push to develop a vaccine. Kamala Harris, who is later elected vice president, says that she would not take the vaccine if Trump told her to.
On the eve of the election, a publication in America releases a damaging report about Hunter Biden, son of presidential candidate Joe Biden. The story alleges corruption which may involve his father, as well as drug-taking, use of prostitutes and more. Twitter and other social media companies prevent the story from being shared, they claim due to questions about ‘the origins of the materials’. The media lines up commentators to claim the story was ‘Russian disinformation’. Once his father wins the election, it becomes clear that several key elements of the story are likely accurate and the laptop from which the information was recovered is in fact Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Meanwhile, the numbers of Covid patients and deaths turn out to have been wrong. For some time, anyone who died at any point after a positive Covid test was counted as dying of Covid, even if they were killed by a drunk driver. This figure is later revised again. The number of people who are in hospital because of Covid also turns out to be incorrect.
Now that ‘racist’ Donald Trump is no longer president, closing borders is no longer considered xenophobic and is widely advocated for in the media. The racist conspiracy theory that the virus came from a lab is now also allowed to be discussed and appears likely to be the most credible explanation.
Imagine your horror as you learn that the reason thousands of people died in the first wave of the pandemic was that elderly hospital patients with Covid were released back into care homes. This is especially true in the UK and in New York, run by Governor Andrew Cuomo, brother of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. Governor Cuomo’s publisher suspends promotion of his book about leadership during the pandemic amid the enquiry into nursing home deaths. Meanwhile, Texas and Florida (which take a drastically different approach from most other US states and remain ‘open’) continue to thrive.
In the UK, the health secretary, the person responsible for saving lives, is found to be cheating on his wife with a married aide in breach of social distancing rules. The man making the rules for you does not follow them.
It is at this point that the vaccine, which you were initially told would need to be given to the vulnerable before restrictions are lifted, becomes the main drive of government policy and media commentary.
The same people who told you Brexit would never happen, Trump would never win, that when he did win it was because of Russian collusion, then because of racism, that you must follow lockdowns while they don’t, that masks don’t work and then that they do work, that protests during lockdowns are a ‘health intervention’, that riots ransacking black communities in the name of fighting racism are ‘mostly peaceful’, that Jussie Smollett was a victim of a hate crime, that men are toxic, that there is an infinite number of genders, that Covid didn’t come from a lab and then that it probably did, that closing borders is racist and then that it’s the most important thing to do, that the Hunter Biden story is Russian disinformation and then that it’s not, that they would not take Trump’s vaccine and then that you must take the vaccine, that Governor Cuomo is a great Covid leader and then that he is a granny killer, that the number of Covid deaths is one thing and then another, that hospitals are filled with Covid patients and then that many of them caught Covid in hospital…
These same people are now telling you the vaccine is safe, you must take it, and that if you don’t you will be a second-class citizen. This is why the Western world is now dealing with vaccine hesitancy.
It’s not all they’re dealing with!
And that rant certainly needs some updating for claims about vaccine efficacy and safety…
But do you see the underlying trend here? About the cracks in the foundations which our Ministry of Truth is built on?
If you do, don’t forget to get a copy of Konstantin Kisin’s book An Immigrant’s Love Letter to the West here, or in your book store, for Christmas the holiday season.
Editor, Fortune & Freedom