A new and exciting development this week in the Great Smearing War, as a wholly novel epistemological category is introduced to delight a jaded and weary populace, that of the ‘probably true’.
Because ‘true’ — well who has time for that anymore? True is over now this dazzling and innovative newcomer has arrived. Thanks for all the facts and everything, true, but your audience has moved on, your book is remaindered and your tour cancelled with reports of low ticket sales.
Unlike the energetic media presence that is David Baddiel, whose book is not remaindered and whose media tour is not cancelled, quite the opposite. In fact, it’s been difficult to move this week without tripping over some media reference to Mr Baddiel, whose message is that he has been silenced. SILENCED! The reverberations of this silencing are ringing in my ears as I write. The silencing of Mr Baddiel has been so complete and effective that he has been forced to appear on TV a great many times, in a heroic and selfless attempt to break the silence about his new book (which is about being silenced).
But what has this to do with the developments in epistemology promised above? Mr Baddiel is once again the hero of the story. Here, epistemology and the more mundane matter of shifting units combine in a dance of extraordinary potency. For, in breaking the silence about the book about how he’s been silenced (on TV), Mr Baddiel has revealed one of the darkest secrets of the silencing so far — a leaflet, distributed at a Labour Conference, about the Holocaust — and it doesn’t mention Jews.
I know, right? How could this have been kept from us for so long? What malign and sinister conspiracy had hidden this outrage against history since — well, since when it happened. And somehow, against all odds, it had been so successfully covered up that, not only could the leaflet itself now no longer be found, but no-one who had seen it at the Labour Conference in the year that it happened in could be produced even to confirm its existence. It had been ‘memory-holed’ into oblivion.
Almost as if it had never happened at all.
But history has strange corners, and Mr Baddiel was history’s mouthpiece as he informed the nation that ‘someone on the NEC’ had told him about it, and — damningly — ‘it was probably true.’
The category of things that are ‘probably true’ is so obviously the advance we’ve been waiting for that we can only wonder at its late arrival into our lives.
But it’s a new dawn now. Anything is possible, because anything is ‘probably true’. Labour party leaflets about the Holocaust without Jews? Coming right up. Anything you like, and with no tiresome griping about ‘reality’, which is now rebadged as ‘one of many probably true realities’. Future generations may designate this ‘the Baddelian Age’, as ‘probably true’ things envelop us in their glittering carapace of delight.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man.