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Chapter Two: A Nation Held in the Grip of Lies
While the truth sets a people free, lies demoralize and enslave. We are a nation held in the grip of lies. These are multiple lies, deliberately and sternly enforced. Let me be specific. There are at least three categories.
First, I would refer to the adjectives racist and anti-Semitic (and, to a lesser degree, such terms as sexist, homophobic, etc.) which hold our people in bondage. These pejorative labels, used by particular groups against others, turn any reasoned argument into an ad hominem attack. They stifle free speech and intimidate discussion by demonizing persons who express opinions that threaten the self-image of certain politically aggressive groups.
White persons who say anything negative about blacks, individually or collectively, are candidates for the racist label. The same is true of persons who say anything negative about Jews; they are considered perpetrators of anti-Semitic hate. Any discomforting or critical statement found offensive by representatives of the black or Jewish communities is interpreted to mean that the person who expressed it has an unfocused, all-consuming hatred of those groups which controls his thinking. He is someone who wants to lynch blacks or is another Hitler.
These are lies. With respect to race, the lie consists of judging white people as a group for their perceived attitude toward blacks when the Civil Rights movement was based on the principle that it was wrong for whites to make any blanket judgment of blacks. White acceptance then of that principle - that it was wrong to be prejudiced against blacks - has led to and even more strident and pervasive form of prejudice directed against themselves now. The concept of white guilt is promoted at the highest levels in our society.
It is simply untrue that whites alone have those generalized, hateful feelings about members of other racial groups which are termed racist; yet, when the same tendencies are observed in African Americans, they are either ignored or defined out of existence. The lie also consists of ignoring the disproportionately high crime rate within the black community or, if this is acknowledged, claiming that it is white peoples fault. And, no, affirmative action does not uphold the principle of equal justice under the law. Some whites seem even more committed than blacks to enforcing these lies. Some day, I may be hauled into court as a perpetrator of hate crimes for even thinking about them in this way.
With respect to anti-Semitism, an anti-Semite can be anyone who accuses Jews of nearly anything, especially in suggesting their hidden influence in society. While this term has the ring of clinical precision to it, anti-Semitism is used with reference to Jews exclusively, ignoring the fact that Arabs and Palestinians are also Semitic peoples. The concept of anti-Semitism falsely suggests that the world revolves around the Jewish people - that the enemies of Jews are the enemies of humanity - and we must all engage in narrow sectarian fights to aid this particular people.
I do not think it a stretch to say that American Jews are disproportionately represented in influential positions in Hollywood, the news media, and other opinion-setting institutions; or that these institutions present a consistently negative message toward fundamentalist Christians or anti-Semitic individuals or types of people and a sympathetic one toward the state of Israel. Yet, such a statement is said to reflect anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. This attitude helps to perpetuate the lie that the U.S. government is aiding Israel because it is a democracy rather than because a well-financed and determined domestic interest group is pushing for this. That is the genesis of Americas problems with terrorism and may well have contributed to the U.S. decision to invade Iraq.
Because this whole subject is charged with such rancor, I feel obliged to state that the purpose of my comments is not to build a case against Jews or black people, or start any kind of group argument, but to seek a basis of fair and open discussion about such matters. The current arrangement serves only to intimidate personal expression and drive feelings and thoughts underground. Human relations are a two-way street. It is not fair play to apply moral interpretations to any group, be it Jew or non-Jew, black or white. Even as I object to the racist or anti-Semitic stigma, I must also separate those who would irresponsibly use such one-sided terms from individuals in the groups they purport to defend. There are innocent persons who may not wish to be dragged into this kind of demonizing discussion.
Also, its hard to see how these concerns
could be raised constructively in the context of a political campaign.
A second type of lie is expressed by the U.S. business community in regard to its relationship with government. I would characterize this as the heads I win, tails you lose philosophy. Business officially supports the idea of free markets and open competition. Government should get out of the way of what can be accomplished in this environment. Low taxes and minimal regulation of business are the best economic policy.
Business does not want people to notice that its numerous lobbyists in Washington and at the state capitols, along with its huge campaign contributions, are directed toward securing special favors from government. As part owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, George W. Bush did not become rich from winning pennants or shrewdly managing the team roster; he did this by convincing the Texas legislature to use taxpayer money to build the team a new stadium. Profits are not made by maximizing competition but by persuading government to impose regulations that will restrict the competition or by providing direct subsidies or contracting opportunities for politically well-connected firms. Money is made by private interests when costs or risks are externalized to the taxpayer and business can cherry-pick the more lucrative parts of the operation.
We need to cut the tax rate on capital gains, they say, to stimulate capital formation and create jobs. In fact, most big employers purchase capital equipment for the purpose of eliminating jobs as human labor is no longer needed. The stock market is a place to gamble as much as it is to raise new capital for business. Its untrue that that most people work long hours do so of their own volition or that massive layoffs lead to a healthy long-term restructuring of the economy. The reality is that, after layoffs, the lean and mean organizations work their remaining employees to the bone and costs are cut further through outsourcing of employment to low-wage countries. The CEOs then reward themselves for a job well done on behalf of the shareholders.
Its a lie that free trade policies will help the U.S. economy grow or that we can afford to part with our manufacturing industries by specializing in post industrial, brainpower functions. And, of course, a college degree is needed to develop the cognitive skills to cope with challenges in that environment! And, chronic trade deficits are of no concern so long as foreigners use their dollars to buy our assets and debt. Workers who lose their jobs to free trade must believe that there is nothing we can do about globalization. Thats a lie - we could impose tariffs. That option is dismissed not by reasoned arguments but by dire warnings delivered by media pundits or academic hired guns about economic isolationism, protectionism, or building a wall around America. Nonsense, a tariff is only a tax; the free-traders must attack straw men to make their case.
Some say the problem of trade deficits could be solved by including labor standards in trade agreements; yet it is no violation of any internationally recognized labor standard for workers in China or Bangladesh to be paid so little. We lie to ourselves in thinking that our failure in the trade area is due to unfair competition by evil foreigners. No, this is a failure made in the USA. Public officials charged with protecting our national interest are asleep at the switch; or, they have effectively taken bribes.
A third lie has to do with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. U.S. government officials have concluded that President Kennedy was assassinated by a lone gun man, Lee Harvey Oswald, who fired three shots with a rifle from an upper-story window of the Texas School Book Depository building. A blue-ribbon committee headed for former Chief Justice Earl Warren came to that conclusion. Most responsible observers concur.
Yet, an overwhelming body of evidence uncovered mostly by free-lance investigators suggests overwise. Even a subsequent Congressional investigation concluded that four shots were fired, some at angles inconsistent with Oswalds presumed location A lone gunman shooting from above and behind Kennedy could not have produced that result. We have medical testimony and even photographs of a front entrance wound in the dead Presidents neck. We have eyewitness accounts of a hole in the front windshield of the Lincoln in which the President was riding, now mysteriously removed. We have evidence that the FBI and Secret Service controlled every aspect of the investigation.
Each piece of evidence deserves to be questioned, of course. The idea that top U.S. government officials could have had advance knowledge of the Presidents assassination or even have been involved in its execution is truly mind-boggling, as is the idea that the nations chief investigative and intelligence agencies were involved in a cover up. Yet, in totality, critics of the Warren Commission report have built a strong case with many mutually corroborating details. Many books have been published on this subject. The History Channel devoted a whole week of programming to testimonies that conflicted with the Warren Commission report.
A majority of Americans today doubt the Commissions conclusions. Still the U.S. government, forty years after the assassination, refuses to release key evidence about it. Some respected organization needs to spearhead a continuing investigation. Since federal agencies are widely implicated in a coverup, it cannot be the federal government. News organizations have more credibility in this regard. Yet, our nations top newspapers, television networks, and other media outlets - the History Channel excepted - decline to pursue the story with the persistence it deserves. Someone needs to tell them this is a bigger story than Watergate. Theres a Pulitzer prize waiting out there for some enterprising reporter.
God help this country if its top political leader could be assassinated in a motorcade and the crime could be covered up for forty years. Are we children who could not handle the news that some government agency or respected political leader was involved in killing the President? Whether or not one agreed with President Kennedy politically, all red-blooded Americans should be troubled by his callous murder. Its a stain on our national honor. We are not this free and open society where the truth will out but a place easily cowed by authority figures who ridicule conspiracy theories and keep the official lies under wraps. Really, were no better in that regard than the rest of the world.
Truth matters. A nation which willingly gives itself over to lies has a spiritual problem. It has a problem with self-esteem in allowing itself so to be violated. I suggest that it ought to be a priority for patriotic Americans to correct this problem, for lies bore at the society from within. People become demoralized, angry and confused, and are easily misled. Any political activity in which I take part should have a truth-telling component.
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