Following contemporary politics brings back this ancient wisdom: The explaining away of wrong is as pernicious as the misdeed itself. 

Socrates was loath to call himself a wise person, for the official teachers of the day, the sophists, “made the worse appear to be the better cause.” With cleverness and skill, Socrates stung the people into truth through inquiry — the Socratic method.

In contrast, whenever Frederick the Great called for his court historian, he would shout, “Bring me my liar.” Today that would be a press secretary or lawyer.

Entrenched power tends toward concealment. When instances of criminality begin to leak, appointed functionaries are rushed to the propaganda ramparts. Their assignment is to deny the obvious, distract from the evident and spin a false narrative. In other words, to replace truth with a lie and substitute self-interest for science. Like some devious magician, they attempt to perform a sleight of the mind trick through rationalization: “Now you see it, now you don’t.”

Sanitizing wrong is no better than a conscience under anesthesia. Eventually you either wake up, or you are dead. If you don’t think about them, injustice, corruption, racism and voter suppression aren’t so bad. Especially not if you have a reprobate Republican Party to enable an amoral president. “It is what it is!”

Socrates was condemned to drink the hemlock, because he dishonored the gods of Athens and corrupted its youth. There you have your enigma. But in a better mind, truth lives on.

Eugene Clemens