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Rebecca Solnit: They Think They Can Bully the Truth

Literary Hub: “Cousin to the noun dictator is the verb dictate. There are among us people who assume their authority is so great they can dictate what happened, that their assertions will override witnesses, videotapes, evidence, the historical record, that theirs is the only voice that matters, and it matters so much it can stand tall atop the conquered facts. Lies are aggressions. They are attempts to dictate, to trample down the facts and those who hold them, and they lay the groundwork for the dictatorships, the little ones in families, the big ones in nations. Black Lives Matter has shown us policemen who continued to insist on their version of events when there is videotaped evidence to the contrary, or when physical evidence and eyewitnesses contradicts their account of events. You realize that they had assumed they could dictate reality, because for decades they actually had, and they were having a hard time adjusting to reality dictating back. As one of the Marx Brothers quipped long ago, “Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?” The police assumed it was neither our eyes nor the evidence…That victims will remain voiceless was the presumption behind much of the sexual abuse that’s been uncovered in the #MeToo era. Getting away with it is the same thing as assuming that no one will know, because your victim will be intimidated or shamed into silence, or that if he or she speaks up they can be discredited or menaced back into silence, or that even if they don’t shut up no one will believe them because your credibility crushes theirs. [emphasis added] That yours is the only version that counts, even if you have to use savage means to make it so. Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow reported of former New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman’s four victims, “All have been reluctant to speak out, fearing reprisal.” But it was he who faced reprisal in the end, because the rules changed, because a critical mass of women broke the silence and the system that perpetuated that silence, because the media that largely ignored or trivialized these stories began to take them seriously…” h/t JLS]

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