Nothing but the Truth
Truth-telling is a scarce commodity these days -- and probably has been since man was first given the gift of gab. For some reason, it is not in our nature to tell the truth, something our Creator must have known or at least observed in the earthly beings he created. Why else would the demand for honesty and the prohibition against lying figure so prominently in the Ten Commandments? Were honesty a sure thing, there would be no need to outlaw deception. It seems our ugliest inclinations -- murder, adultery, theft, envy, and deceit -- have always been in competition with our elusive but better angels and require the force of law to keep them at bay.
We need only look to children for understanding. Once they master language, they lie about darn near everything (even though at times they can be brutally honest). We have to teach them to tell the truth. How different life would be if honesty came as swiftly and instinctively as walking and talking and lying was anathema.
Honesty doesn’t really have any rewards other than the self-satisfaction that you did the right thing and the carrot that maybe someday good things will come your way or, as some religions promise, a reward in the afterlife. For many, self-satisfaction isn’t enough of a motivator to take the high road, especially when the reward for lying is getting what you want or avoiding responsibility for something you did or said. If the likelihood is low that your lie will be discovered and the punishment, if discovered, isn’t so onerous, many people will choose the lie in the hopes of profiting from it. If it is likely your deception might be exposed, the threat of a time out, school expulsion, public shaming, or jail time could be enough of a deterrent to compel you to come clean. .
As society slouches towards less religion and embraces moral relativism as its guide, retribution for dishonesty seems to have eroded considerably. If a celebrity or public figure is important or liberal enough, he or she can lie and keep his job and fortune, or hold onto her family and power. One has to wonder if any downside to lying still lingers or advantage for honesty persists as blatant falsehoods are increasingly replaced with euphemisms like “mistakes,” “misstatements,” “misremembrances,” “misrepresentations,” and “mischaracterizations.”
Intentional deceptions by the rich, powerful, and famous mysteriously morph into accidental, inadvertent, and downright magical occurrences. Apologies are offered in abundance but are almost always backhanded attempts to ask for forgiveness for something you did or said but didn’t really mean -- as if some pod person arrived from outer space and took over your body and mind while you slept.
The liar has little regard for the insight or intellect of his audience. Elites claim their fabrications are the result of conflated memories and confounding situations that often require subtle contextual analyses. Thus, the hoi polloi is forced to do a mental two-step and wrap its collective thinking around the absurd: the definition of “is,” leaving the White House broke, keeping your doctor, overseas contingency operations, workplace violence, random attacks on regular folks, sniper fire in Bosnia and RPG attacks on a helicopter that never happened, the execution of 21 Egyptian citizens, Yemen as a success story, Al Qaeda on the run, ISIS as the JV squad, an unknown video as the cause of the Benghazi massacre, or the miracle of jobs -- not military might -- to bring ISIS to its knees.
There comes a certain point when the simple lie sidles up to its bigger, badder cousin – propaganda -- and is no longer about skirting the truth for some kind of personal benefit but intentionally twisting the meanings of words to manipulate the public, suit a political agenda, and bring about political, economic, cultural, and societal change.
When challenged, the rank liar distances himself from responsibility for such misremembrances by claiming they were concocted during the fog of war and altered by the passage of time. But the professional propagandist never revises or defends his fictions, anticipating instead that they will become the new reality. Indeed, President Obama has never retracted, defended, or justified his comments that “you can keep your doctor and health plan,” even though he knew they were false. It was his intention first to win the public’s trust, have millions sign up for ObamaCare, lose their doctors and health plans, and ultimately become part of a single payer system.
Funny thing is, while lies can be devastating, they don’t bother us as much as the liar. And the worst kind of liar is the propagandist -- who controls information and insists on the absolute correctness of his disinformation to the exclusion of all else. If the lie is repeated enough, if outside information or opposing viewpoints are not permitted or tolerated, if those receiving the disinformation are hungry, dehumanized, uneducated, or tortured enough, anyone can become a believer in the inconceivable (that two plus two could really equal five) or the implausible (that global warming is a greater existential threat than radical Islamic terrorists).
This is how we came to believe there are dozens of genders even though thousands of years of science and human history confirm the existence of only two. This is how we came to believe that homosexuality is not a choice but an alternative physical attribute that cannot be controlled; that gay sex is equivalent to heterosexual sex, even though only the latter results in reproduction; that abortion is a social good and constitutional right that should be encouraged; that a family with two daddies is exactly the same as a family with a mommy and a daddy; that blended and broken families are just as good as traditional families; and, that fathers are superfluous.
This is how we came to believe that there is no G-d, only Darwin; that evolution is an absolute to the exclusion of any other theory; that science is paramount and settled when discussing evolution and global warming but not when discussing fracking, nuclear energy, or gender.
This is how we came to believe that anthropogenic global warming results from deleterious human habits like eating, breathing, defecating, farming, ranching, building, driving, and surviving; that we are the cause of climate change, despite millions of years of climate volatility without the involvement of mankind; and, that carbon dioxide is bad and punitive policies are good, even though they will stifle innovation and plunge civilization back to colder, darker, more dangerous times.
This is how -- to our great undoing -- we came to believe that global warming is a more potent threat to our survival than radical Islamic terrorists; that radical Islamic terrorists are just a handful of crazy outliers who randomly target their victims, without an ideology that espouses hatred for and promises death to the apostate Muslim and the infidel Jew or Christian.
Sigh. As George Orwell said “political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” Ain’t that the truth.
Indeed, the persistent dissemination of a rigid ideology based on lies is how ordinary Germans came to believe that the Jews were the problem, their mass extermination the solution, and that the commission of beastly atrocities was wholly justified. This is how the Soviets came to believe that capitalism was the cause of all the world’s ills and the imposition by brute force of a planned, centralized economy while cracking down on liberties, was the answer. And, this is how millions of Nazis and Communists came to believe in their superiority over all others and that whatever was necessary to eliminate their enemies was warranted.
It should come as no surprise, then, that this is how millions of radical Muslims came to believe in the righteousness of their religion, so much so that the crucifixion of children, the beheading of Christians, the kidnapping of young girls into sex slavery, the gunning down of Jews throughout the world, and the tossing of homosexuals off buildings, is justified in the name of Allah.
George Orwell noted that “In a time of universal deceit -- telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Instead of being ubiquitous, the truth is so scarce that demanding it from our political and cultural elite is now considered revolutionary. So be it.
We must insist on the truth every minute of every day. We cannot let the administration, the activists, the academy, and the press dictate and get away with an endless barrage of falsehoods. We know that hateful Islamists want to kill us because we are non-believers. We are Christians, Jews and atheists. We are liberated women. We are Americans. Contrary to the fanciful musings promulgated by the Obama administration, these terrorists generally are not uneducated, unemployed, misguided youth who will turn from their evil ways with slogans like “Make Jobs. Not Terror.” They are a well-armed, well-financed, well-trained marauding throng of thousands growing in strength and territory every day. They are not an organization, but a state intent on establishing a global caliphate.
To claim that they do not pose a mortal threat is either sheer stupidity or utter complicity. These warped Islamists see eternal life in a martyr’s death and salvation by killing the non-believer -- including unarmed and innocent men, women, and children. Oh mercy, they are a grave menace -- not only because they repeatedly inform us of their desire to exterminate us, not only because their religious leaders and texts instruct them to execute infidels and apostates, but because they have a long history committing capital crimes that evidence their intent. Their transgressions are legion: tossing an elderly, wheelchair-bound Jewish man into the sea; flying airplanes into skyscrapers; bombing numerous embassies and cafes; lopping off the heads of journalists and misguided converts; burning to death a Muslim pilot and 35 Kurds; decapitating 21 Egyptian Christians; and kidnapping and enslaving 300 Nigerian girls. It doesn’t matter if it’s the PLO, Hamas, Hizb'allah, the Taliban, Al Quaeda, AQAP, Boko Haram, or ISIS -- they all share the same ideology, the same war plan, and the same enemy. Jobs will not stop them. Climatic events will not pre-empt them. The only weapon that stops a fanatic on a killing spree in the name of his G-d is a bullet.
Meeting our doom at the bloody hands of these barbarians is more terrifying than our possible demise from a less than 1 degree rise in temperature over a hundred years. Mother Nature has been taunting the planet long before man appeared and deaths caused by her wrath are not to be taken lightly. But deaths from Acts of G-d that are beyond our mortal control are not equivalent to the gruesome murders perpetrated by identifiable savages in our midst.
Only a propagandist could get away with saying that death by something as disputed as global warming or as unpredictable as climate change places us in greater peril and thus requires more of our resources and attention, than death by a keffiyeh-covered, sword-wielding, AK47-shooting, zealot screaming Allahu Akhbar with a resume of decapitation, slaughter, rape, crucifixion, and torching others to death.
As guardians of the truth, each and every one of us is obligated to call out the propagandists for their lies and stand between them and society’s most gullible. As foot soldiers in the War for the Truth, it is incumbent upon us to combat the lies circulated in our schools, houses of worship, by the press, and the government. The only weapon that is effective against a jihadi is a bullet. And the only weapon we have against the propagandist is the truth. And history has shown -- time and time again -- just how effective a weapon the truth can be. Let’s use it.