February 8, 2023
by Thomas Buckley | The Brownstone Institute
As with misinformation, labeling someone who disagrees with the current standardthink as a “denier” has become, pardon the term, endemic amongst the woke.
Covid denier, climate denier, election denier, science denier – are all bandied about to immediately end debate, tar any difference of opinion as literally insane, and depict anyone who ever disagrees with you as stupid and evil. This epithet is now even being used pre-emptively to makes sure that no matter what anyone who now or ever questions the move to ban gas stoves will not be doing so based on facts or logic but because of their “gas stove denialism.”
Like so much woke terminology, the initial meaning of the term is far removed from its current usage, though it has the distinct advantage of being generally familiar, allowing it to be “Trojan Horsed” (admittedly, some arise sui generis) into public discourse.
Common usage of the term “in denial” (besides the joke about the river in Egypt) seemed to come to the fore mostly in regards to an inability to face up to an obvious, almost always, personal truth.
In denial about your drinking, in denial about the fact that your kids are actually monsters, in denial about your sexuality (nothing to do with today’s genderpalooza) and on and on.
But, like in almost every case in which the woke have stolen a term from the self-help/therapy movements the term has been utterly bastardized. For example, trigger and safe space are now used in the opposite way of their initial intent – see here.
All of these terms started as ways to focus on personal responsibilities and actions and not in any way, shape, or form carried societal baggage and/or implications.
And then, in the 1980s, there was a shift, though a rather understandable one. There are those who, sadly and stupidly, deny that the Holocaust happened, that Hitler didn’t kill millions of Jews and Gypsies and homosexuals and the disabled and political opponents and, well, it’s a very long and terrible list.
Hence the term “Holocaust denier,” an accurate and correct description of someone who, despite the overwhelming physical evidence of the event, denies its occurrence, almost always because of their personal political ideology.
It is crucial to emphasize that denying the Holocaust happened is extremely different from the current crop of dissent-crushing “denials.” The former involves a very specific proven fact; the latter – climate, election, etc. – all involve differences of opinions and reasonable and appropriate debates over whether something did, or is going to, happen.
But the appropriately fetid stench attached to “Holocaust denier” intentionally and destructively is made to come along with all of the current “denials.” In other words, if you are an election denier or climate denier you are just as terrible as a Holocaust denier even though nothing could be further from the truth.
If used in its initial meaning, a climate denier would be one who claims the climate doesn’t exist, an election denier would a person who said the 2020 election never happened.
And no – that’s not what is being claimed.
The debate over climate change is one that should be taken seriously and done impartially; the discussion around the glaring voting security issues that appeared in 2020 should be considered similarly. The science denier epithet attached to anyone who wondered about the risk and efficacy of the COVID vaccines is especially egregious because “science” cannot, by definition, be believed or denied – while technically a noun it is in fact a verb, it is a process and one cannot “follow the science,” just as one cannot follow a car one is driving.
Climate denier/denialism implies ostrich-like stupidity – how can a person possibly disagree with the fact that we’re all either going to drown or burn or freeze or dehydrate or starve or flood or desert or disease or war ourselves to death in the next few decades unless we do something NOW? Never mind that doing most of the things proposed NOW are unnecessary, contradictory, contra-indicated, and could end modern civilization as we know it and that, considering the utterly scientifically shoddy if not outright fraudulent actions many in the climate brigade have taken, should not even be included in any rational discussion of the topic.
The same is true with election denier. The 2020 election was quite possibly the most unusual election in the nation’s history. Barriers put in place years ago to try to ensure secure and accurate voting were obliterated, massive numbers of ballot were mailed out practically willy-nilly, the unconscionable practice of ballot harvesting was normalized in many states, counts were stopped and started and dragged on for days and on and on. Just these undisputed facts alone are enough for intelligent reasonable involved citizens to legitimately wonder if the election was truly fair and honest.
And it should be noted that in all three cases – climate, election, and science – that those who toss the “denier” term about are also those same people who ignore, denigrate, and outright block any attempt to actually figure out what exactly happened. Remember: If you can evade any impartial investigation, you can declare with confidence that no investigation has ever found fault with your claims of the final and definitive and certain truth of your position.
There are people who benefit from advertising “denialism.” From last week’s private jet and meat and booze and hooker and billionaire-fueled Davos event to legacy media desperate to keeps its subscribers terrified and therefore more likely to continue to subscribe to the tastefully decorated hallways and board rooms of massive financial institutions and international foundations and agencies and organizations to academics desperate to secure grant funding and make a name for themselves to tech giants who wish everyone lived by their algorithms because that would make selling ads so much easier to people who yearn for the psychological comfort of social acceptance and the feeling of being right all the time – these are the people that benefit every time someone outside their circle is called a denier.
In the end, for the truth to prevail, “denialism” must be denied its power to stifle dissent, obfuscate facts, and intellectually segregate those with other opinions, those with legitimate questions, those who are not in denial of reality.
Thomas Buckley is the former mayor of Lake Elsinore, Cal. and a former newspaper reporter. He is currently the operator of a small communications and planning consultancy and can be reached directly at email@example.com. You can read more of his work at: https://thomas699.substack.com/