Pursuing the truth is a difficult venture. Not because of some postmodern shibboleth that “there is no such thing as truth; it is all a matter of perspective”, or something like that. But I can think of two reasons I may not speak the truth, though it is my intention. One, I have biases that may cloud my truth-seeking, and two, I may honestly think something is true, only later to realize I was wrong.
This is why Jordan Peterson’s Rule #8 is so helpful in “12 Rules For Living”-
“Always Tell The Truth or At Least Don’t Lie.”
Lying is intentional and destructive. It is no accident that lying makes the top ten in the commandments. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” It is no fluke that Christ himself gives a nickname for the devil, “The Father of Lies” (John 8:44).
I am a prude when it comes to lying. I don’t always tell the truth, but I don’t lie. Lying is my number one pet peeve of sin. My “life vision statement” or whatever we called it back in the 90′s has been, and is, the same in 2021.
“Seek the truth at all possible cost, with courage and consideration, and lead others to do the same.”
With this personal disclosure, you can understand why I am slightly perturbed by the state of public discourse. It is, perhaps, irredeemable. Corporate media has the goal of making money. Politics has the goal of getting elected and re-elected. Social media has the goal of making money if you are monetized, or at least being popular if you are not. It’s not evident that any of these goals has much to do with seeking the truth.
So, what is the most destructive lie repeated in recent time? For me, without a doubt, it is the “Fine People” Hoax of 2017. President Trump was speaking of the protest rally in Charlottesville, VA over whether a statue of Robert E. Lee should be removed or not. Historians, and those who considered Robert E. Lee an important historical figure, were protesting against the removal. Other groups, some self-identifying as KKK, neo-Nazi’s, Antifa and such, were there, as well.
President Trump voiced his condemnation of the violence that was perpetrated. He clearly said there were fine people who were on the side of keeping the statue in place, and fine people who wanted it removed. “Fine people on both sides”, in other words. He clearly condemned the “hate” groups like neo-Nazi’s, KKK, and Antifa, and made it eminently clear none of them were part of the “fine people.”
Then the Democrat Party intentionally lied about this, saying President Trump really calling neo- Nazi’s and KKK, fine people. Corporate media supported them by lying about what the President said, and doctoring the video evidence, leaving out his condemnation of the KKK, neo-Nazi’s and other hate groups.
This lie was perpetrated from that point on. It is one of the most destructive public narratives concerning the racial unrest in the US from that point until now. This lie was continually used to try to cast aspersions on President Trump’s racism, and more importantly to me, the alleged racism of all those who supported him. As one who seeks the truth, this was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. The Democrat Party and corporate media were attempting to spin that people I love and admire, people of integrity and good will, were racists and “haters” because they were Republicans.
Disclaimer: As a registered “Democrat” at the time, I was troubled by many of the party’s positions. I remained Democrat, though I would simply vote for some Republicans when I thought they were a better choice. But, in a large part, due to the “fine people” hoax, I formally left the Democrat Party. I didn’t become a Republican, nor did I vote for Trump, but I could no longer be supportive of this deceit.
Now fast forward to the latest election. According to President Biden, this lie was what launched him into seeking the Democratic nomination for President. President Biden knew it was a lie and still spoke of it as a call to seek the Presidency. As a pastor, speaking of one’s call takes on powerful meaning, and to purposely use this lie to make oneself look noble, this was beyond the pale. Then the President used this lie in his campaign speeches. Kamala Harris joined him in repeating the lie, as well. I was outraged. Then it continued in the Presidential debates. Actually, I lost respect for anyone who continued this lie to try to split people apart on racial grounds, in particular during such a sensitive time in our country. Yet, this continued all the way until the second impeachment proceedings of last week.
The Democrat House Managers of the impeachment proceedings used doctored evidence, troubling enough, but then they included the “fine people” hoax. They showed the standard doctored videotape of President Trump commenting on Charlottesville that corporate media continued to show.
Then, the truth was finally exposed because the defense team of President Trump showed the authentic, unaltered video of what the President actually said. As this was an impeachment proceeding, corporate media was compelled to broadcast the truth for the first time. Along with other doctored false evidence, the Democrat House Managers were exposed for all to see.
Now, I am not naive enough to think President Biden and the Democrat Party members who perpetuated the “fine people” hoax for political gain will admit they lied and ask for forgiveness. But, I do expect my friends and colleagues who were caught up in this lie, and publicly supported it, to do just that. This lie has brought untold damage to racial relationships in our country, communities, and families. Yes, politics is not pure, and you can continue to support President Biden and his policies in spite of this lie, but you are also compelled to tell the truth about it if you publicly supported it. And please, for your own integrity, and the sake of all people, if President Biden ever lies in such an egregious and damaging way again, I hope and trust you will call it out.