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Validating truth: The Left and the Right
By Bruce Walker
Debating with leftists is a waste of time. When I wander into the dreamy hope that leftists care about truth or principles, the easiest tonic is to ask my leftist friend "If I can prove A, B and C to you, by reference to multiple, independent and neutral sources, will it change your mind?' The answer - invariably - is "No."
There are several levels in which truth can be validated. The closer these are to the individual, the easier for natural processes to disclose the truth, whatever ideology may say, but liberals manage even at the most personal level to frustrate the validation of truth.
The purest level of validating truth is personal. "To thine own self be true" says Polonius in Hamlet. The individual knows his own sentiments and motivations, even if he does not always have all the external information to know the truth. Sensations, sentiments and cognition are only known by the individual, although these can be communicated well through a variety of media.
How can liberals keep individuals from being honest to themselves? All of us, to some extent, deceive ourselves, but we usually know when we are doing it. Nazis and liberals were the first moderns to make an absolute virtue out of "self-esteem" and through the exaltation of "feeling good about myself" the liberal and the Nazi can create an illusionary universe.
The Judeo-Christian tradition is in sharp contrast to this attitude. Whatever theological differences a Jewish mother and a Presbyterian minister might have, both would agree that a little guilt and a little shame is a good thing. If historically Western civilization has leaned too much toward self-criticism, there is no doubt that liberalism today is a virtual carte blanche on personal ethics. Lying, recall during Clinton's impeachment, may be a positive good!
Voluntary relationships with others is the next level of validating truth. Our family, our friends and our coworkers certainly fall into that category, but so do our clients, customers, and coreligionists at church, temple, mosque or synagogue. These people see us as we cannot see ourselves, and in a sensible world ought to be a counterweight to our tendencies to err in one direction or another.
Conservatives and other sensible people understand this. When we apply for a bank loan, for example, and the bank officer advises that we are not creditworthy at the level we sought, most of us understand that this is not malicious, conspiratorial machinations. In fact, the bank has done us a favor, by providing at no cost its professional expertise to advise us that households with this income level, this debt level, this pool of assets and this credit history is a bad credit risk.
Likewise, a coach who has us run laps because we have not performed well, or an orchestra instructor who has our violin section play again because our tempo was too slow and our pitch too high is also doing us a favor. All of us are unofficial hall monitors of each other in life. We provide each other with valuable, timely information about our behavior, our abilities and our knowledge. Liberals have tried to drain this natural correction of its value as well.
Beyond the level of personal and voluntary interactions with other people, there is at the grand level of social interaction another process for validating truth. This differs from the other two levels because those who judge what is true and what is not will not know each other and the sources of their information will be indirect.
How do people determine what to believe is true and what is false at this level? The process of education and information is intended to provide a common framework for discussion, but the Left intentionally has undermined this foundation.
Leftists go beyond presenting to the receptive minds of our young fanciful, almost surreal pseudo-histories, in which the brilliant eloquence of the Founding Fathers becomes patriarchal and mercantile mush, but the sheer depth of ignorance among Leftists is staggering. Whatever credentials their toadying to tenured professors may have gained these automata, they know almost nothing about geography, historical, economy, military science or actual political events.
The Supreme Court - in its flawlessly bad reasoning - removed from giant corporations engaged in selling information to the public any duty to be truthful in the infamous Sullivan v. New York Times case. The facts themselves are interesting. This huge, rich, powerful corporation invented or assumed certain things about a southern official.
The giant corporation was dead wrong, and Sullivan was dead right. But...multibillion dollar corporations - in the interests of "free speech" - are allowed negligence, carelessness, and casual destruction of lives, as long as "actual malice" was not involved. By sheer coincidence, by pure chance (or course!) Sullivan was a conservative Dixiecrat whose views on school integration conflicted with the nabobs of the Eastern elite.
This odd bifurcation of corporate responsibility - huge car manufacturers were held to the highest possible legal standards and huge information merchants were held to the lowest possible legal standard - created a world in which truth has simply died in public discourse. Libel laws mean nothing when dealing with important social issues, though everything when dealing with the caloric content of a bag of jelly beans.
Politicians lie with impunity. Leftists, protected by a Praetorian guard of establishment media, academic flaks, and paid victim advocates, simply do not care at all about details like truth anymore. This is appearing more and more about the elites of the Leftist media itself, who routinely lie. What can be done?
Much has happened already with the conservative revolution in communications. Text communications moves much faster than the boring leviathans of the Left filter and censor, and text can also be easily archived to protect against smugness or sloppiness. Talk radio relies almost entirely upon words, and the reversals of Leftists and Democrats on policy issues from year to year becomes increasingly hard for them to defend. Books too chronicle in the immutable form of printed words what Leftists cannot toss into the memory hole.
This conservation communications revolution also allows a constant critique of the Left and its lockstep attempts to keep information from the American people. Having the words of Bill Clinton or Tom Daschle recovered and replayed mocks these political hacks with serious whimsy.
There are other reforms which should be proposed. For example, in the competition among media, why not have the corporation issue a public and legally enforceable promise to the public not to present false or misleading information? Conservatives, who care about truth, want this anyway. This could create a self-imposed liability for Leftist media. And why not extent that as well to all the "scientific studies" and academic research of other liberal dominated institutions?
In short, challenge directly the honor and trustworthiness of these propaganda machines by calling on the to join conservative groups in being "socially responsible" on the issues of fair and accurate reporting to the public.
What not have politicians and party spokesmen agree to sign an affidavit under oath not to lie or intentionally mislead the public during policy debates about factual issues? So when Democrats accuse Republicans of proposing to cut Social Security, which is a lie, Democrats will have to either say "Oh, we never promise to be honest in our debates" or to expose themselves to actual civil and criminal penalties.
Both parties should include in their platform process for censuring candidates who lie and withdrawing party support from their candidacy. The parties could include in their platforms that elected officials who lie should be removed from all positions of power, denied future help in campaigns, and removed from any congressional committees.
These would be hard to enforce, at least in the beginning, but they have the distinct advance of putting Democrats in the position of defending lying to the American people. Moreover, a few Democrats - Zell Miller and Dianne Feingold come to mind - would accept these rules.
America needs to return to a serious respect for truth in our discussion and our decisions, and this is most true in the area of political and policy debates. Democrats and other Leftists do not consider truth their friend. It is time to make them pay a price for that embrace of unapologetic deception.
Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also
a contributor to Citizens View, The Common Conservative, Conservative
Truth and Port of Call.
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