Sturm: Search For truth amid the propaganda
At a recent 11,000-strong Netroots Nation conference, irate protestors booed presidential candidate Martin O’Malley for proclaiming, “Black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter.”
That O’Malley’s echo of “all men are created equal” — the self-evident truth that fueled America’s civil-rights movement — was jeered reflects a disturbing phenomenon, one social critic Aldous Huxley called the propagandist’s purpose: “to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.”
By emphasizing differences and distorting reality, propagandists incite mistrust and hostility, compelling followers to line up dutifully behind partisan agendas, never to Think Again.
Yet as Adolf Hitler understood — and history proves — blind partisanship is dangerous. “What good fortune for governments that the people do not think,” observed modern history’s greatest propagandist and destroyer of humanity.
A 2013 experiment conducted by pollster Mark Mellman for the Bipartisan Policy Center confirmed Hitler’s insight, revealing how partisanship often overrides informed policy preferences, blinding people to their choices’ consequences.
Two groups of respondents were asked to select between Republican and Democrat education plans, with the labels on each plan reversed in each group. Rather than choose a plan based on policy preferences, Republicans and Democrats in each group overwhelmingly opted for their party’s plan.
“The evidence suggests that parties have considerable latitude to alter their positions without losing voters,” Melman concluded, “driving voters further apart on the issues if they choose.”
Consider how the Obama administration is wedging apart the long-standing bipartisan consensus to use all elements of American foreign policy — diplomatic, economic and military — to prevent Iran’s theocratic regime, and the world’s most lethal terrorist state, from acquiring nuclear weapons.
On the most consequential life-and-death issue facing Americans, administration officials have reversed their pledges to prevent an Iranian bomb while ridiculing those who won’t renege, branding them “warmongers.”
Meanwhile, the Iran deal would convey a jackpot of sanctions-relief, conventional arms and ballistic missiles, enriching and emboldening the world’s worst warmongers — the tyrannical ayatollahs whose declared goal is to establish a global caliphate and “raise the banner of Islam over the White House.”
Unfortunately, by prematurely sidelining diplomatic and economic leverage, the deal leaves America with few peaceful ways to counter Iran or secure our hostages’ release.
Normally, far-reaching international agreements — particularly nuclear-related ones — require a two-thirds Senate majority to assure domestic support. Fearful of constitutionally mandated scrutiny, the administration framed the deal as an executive agreement requiring no congressional approval. To reassert its treaty powers, Congress agreed that disapproval requires an unprecedented two-thirds majority in both houses.
Most worrisome, the administration has circumvented voters, the Constitution and American sovereignty by obtaining U.N. approval of the Iran accord — including secret side deals — before Congress’ review. Should Congress reject the deal, administration officials argue America would be violating international law.
Whose lives will matter most: those of pressured lawmakers or Americans whose lives, and way of life, are imperiled by the agreement?
The same question can be asked of policymakers who put the lives of criminal illegal immigrants ahead of law-abiding innocents by allowing immigration laws to go unenforced.
This month, an illegal immigrant with seven convictions, five deportations and multiple returns to San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” shot and killed 32-year-old Kate Steinle while she was strolling with her dad.
Similar to San Francisco, more than 300 jurisdictions routinely ignore immigration laws as tens of thousands of criminal illegal immigrants have been released into unsuspecting populaces. Between 2010 and 2014, 121 released illegal immigrants proceeded to commit murder — that’s two preventable tragedies per month. Yet propagandists obscuring these facts call sanctuary-city opponents racist.
Similarly, it’s a “war on women” to be critical of Planned Parenthood, even after secretly recorded videos exposed the human cost — and price — of salable baby parts, harvested from late-term abortions at their clinics.
In two viral videos, Planned Parenthood officials explain why their “less crunchy” techniques make them “very good at getting heart, lung, liver.” They crush above and below to “get it all intact.” A third video shows doctors discussing how to maximize fetal-tissue revenue.
It’s hard to reconcile a belief that “all lives matter” with the routine and lawful crushing of emerging human life. Yet a mother’s life and right to control her body also matter. Acknowledging these conflicting truisms is a mark of a healthy society, one capable of breaking through the propaganda to consider the question: At what point does the mother’s life stop trumping a baby’s right to life?
George Orwell said, “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it,” which is why O’Malley was booed for saying “all lives matter.” Reversing society’s drift requires citizens willing to risk vilification to search for the truth, people who’ll resist reality-distorting partisans.
Think Again — by reversing Hitler’s insight, imagine the good fortune for society when the people do think.