‘Gaslighting’ Is the Word of the Year for Good Reason

Jeffrey A. Tucker Jeffrey A. Tucker
November 29, 2022Updated: November 29, 2022

Commentary

Every year, Merriam-Webster picks a word to capture the culture of a moment in time. The choice is based on the frequency and quantity of searches as well as the departure from the norm. This year, the choice seems perfect: gaslighting. It’s drawn from the 1944 film noir starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman.

The term means to be subjected to extended psychological trickery to cause the victim to question his or her own reality. In the film, Boyer plays a handsome stranger who meets the beautiful heiress Bergman on a foreign journey and they fall in love. He convinces her to marry and move back together to London to her family home, whereby he embarks upon a subtle campaign to convince her she is bonkers while he secretly searches the home for legacy jewels he intends to steal.

It’s painful to watch, but the experience connects with our own as we watch mainstream media, see respectable scientists canceled for supposedly spreading disinformation, or when we watch a White House press conference. They try to convince us that they are normal and we are the crazy ones, probably guilty of wrongthink or not aware of the full facts. The more they insist on their version of truth, the more we are invited to see ourselves as nuts for failing to give them all the benefit of our doubts.

The film has this crucial moment when Bergman flips from believing that she is a broken spirit and confused person suddenly to realizing that she is the victim of an elaborate hoax. Once she realizes this, and all the pieces fall into place, she calls him out as a fraud and a thief. The film ends as this genre must in those days. He is arrested and the victim is made whole.

So it is for all of us over this past year, as vast numbers of people realize that we are being gaslit by major media, Big Tech, and government. We were told that we faced a crisis so grim and horrible that we had to surrender our freedoms in the name of pathogenic control, even though we could clearly read the data on the risk. They closed schools, businesses, and weekly worship and told us it was for our own good.

To this day, they won’t admit that they were wrong. They were gaslighting us the entire time.

Tellingly, last year’s word was vaccine. The year before was pandemic. So you see how this goes. Pandemic to vaccine to gaslighting. Yep, that pretty well sums up the past three years in a nice narrative from beginning to end. One hopes that we’re all now waking up to the scam that has been perpetuated on us.

The notion that it was the “worst pandemic in a hundred years” is certainly disputable. We still don’t have real clarity on precisely how many people died from COVID, and this confusion is due to vast false positives of PCR testing backed by subsidized and rampant death misclassification. To this day, we don’t know precisely how many people died from COVID or merely with COVID, or even if they truly had symptomatic COVID at all. None of this do we know for sure.

Then we can talk about the vaccine, which was never sterilizing the virus simply because it isn’t possible to create such a thing around a fast-mutating coronavirus, a fact that we knew long before the pandemic began. So they called it a vaccine and lied that it would prevent infection and stop transmission even though that was never possible. Once this became obvious, and the whole point of mandates disappeared, they demanded we get it anyway at the pain of losing our jobs.

Now, we have major media outlets admitting that more people are dying with the vaccine than without. And yet we are supposed to move on with our lives as if no one ever said anything false. There are no regrets, no apologies, and no admissions of guilt. Even now, foreign nationals can’t travel to the United States to see the Statue of Liberty without showing proof of vaccination!

In a word, we’ve been gaslit at every turn.

One hopes that Americans watching events in China today get the point. Zero-COVID was never about epidemiology. It was an ideology of totalitarianism, a great excuse to do to us what bad actors in tech, media, and the government wanted to do anyway but couldn’t get away with in normal times. China easily migrated from a virus-control theater to full surveillance. Even now, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is combing through cellphone data to ferret out political dissenters. The point is to punish in ways that weren’t possible decades ago.

Sadly, it likely will work. If your ability to work and live, and feed yourself and your family, are contingent on political obedience, the party in control enjoys more security in ways that dictators of old could only have dreamed.

The heck of it is that our own experience with virus control was in fact copied directly from the CCP model. In the third week of February 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci sent his deputy assistant Clifford Lane on a WHO junket to Wuhan and other cities. The WHO produced a disgusting report that wholly recommended the China approach to the world. It said:

“Achieving China’s exceptional coverage with and adherence to these containment measures has only been possible due to the deep commitment of the Chinese people to collective action in the face of this common threat. At a community level, this is reflected in the remarkable solidarity of provinces and cities in support of the most vulnerable populations and communities. Despite ongoing outbreaks in their own areas, governors and mayors have continued to send thousands of health care workers and tons of vital PPE supplies into Hubei Province and Wuhan city.

“At the individual level, the Chinese people have reacted to this outbreak with courage and conviction. They have accepted and adhered to the starkest of containment measures—whether the suspension of public gatherings, the month-long stay-at-home advisories or prohibitions on travel. Throughout an intensive 9-days of site visits across China, in frank discussions from the level of local community mobilizers and frontline health care providers to top scientists, Governors and Mayors, the Joint Mission was struck by the sincerity and dedication that each brings to this COVID-19 response.”

In a word, barf. Actually, Fauci, Lane, and everyone else involved in this gaslighting deserves full moral condemnation. They told us that it was the right way to manage a pandemic, but their virus control very quickly and easily became political control.

This is true not only in China but also in the United States. Early on, any protests against lockdowns were regarded not only as contrary to public health but also politically seditious. The media played along with this. And later with the vaccines, the refusal to get the shot was treated nearly as an act of treason.

Which is one of many problems with lockdowns. Not only do they not work at stopping the pathogen over the long term—at best they “slow the spread” for no good reason—but they intensify political control over society and attack fundamental rights and liberties. Fauci himself made frequent statements that disparaged the very idea of freedom itself, while meme culture jumped on the idea and started a deliberate misspelling: “freedumb.”

The movie “Gaslight” is a painful experience as the viewer watches a wretched man gradually crush the spirit of a sincere and trusting woman. It’s utterly abusive, but at some point, she wakes up to the racket and works to see justice done. So should we all.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Jeffrey A. Tucker is the founder and president of the Brownstone Institute, and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press, as well as 10 books in five languages, most recently “Liberty or Lockdown.” He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He writes a daily column on economics for The Epoch Times and speaks widely on the topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.