The fic­tion of ‘Truth’

Left­ists love lies, if the cause is no­ble

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Vic­tor Davis Hanson

We live in a weary age of fa­ble. The lat­est Hol­ly­wood mythol­ogy is en­ti­tled “Truth.” But the film is ac­tu­ally a fic­tion­al­ized story about how CBS News su­per-an­chor Dan Rather and his “60 Min­utes” pro­ducer sup­pos­edly were rail­roaded by cor­po­rate and right-wing in­ter­ests into re­sign­ing.

In re­al­ity, an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion by CBS found that Mr. Rather and his “60 Min­utes” team — just weeks be­fore the 2004 elec­tion — had failed to prop­erly vet doc­u­ments of du­bi­ous au­then­tic­ity as­sert­ing that a young Ge­orge W. Bush had shirked his duty as a Texas Air Na­tional Guard pi­lot.

The fab­u­list movie comes on the heels of the Beng­hazi in­ves­ti­ga­tions. An email in­tro­duced last month at a House Beng­hazi com­mit­tee hear­ing in­di­cated that for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton — just hours af­ter the at­tacks on the con­sulate that left four Amer­i­cans dead — knew al­most im­me­di­ately that an “al Qaeda-like group” had car­ried out the killings.

Mrs. Clin­ton in­formed ev­ery­one from her own daugh­ter to the Egyp­tian prime min­is­ter that the killings were the work of hard-core ter­ror­ists. Yet of­fi­cially, she know­ingly ped­dled the false­hood that a video maker had caused spon­ta­neous demon­stra­tions that went bad.

Ap­par­ently, the truth about Beng­hazi clashed with the 2012 Barack Obama re-elec­tion nar­ra­tive about the rout­ing of al Qaeda. For days, Mrs. Clin­ton, U.N. Am­bas­sador Susan Rice and the pres­i­dent him­self like­wise sold the fan­tasy of video-driven killings.

The Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment grew out of the fa­tal shoot­ing of Michael Brown by Of­fi­cer Dar­ren Wil­son in Fer­gu­son, Mo. The pro­tes­tors’ sig­na­ture slo­gan, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” evolved from the be­lief that Brown raised his hands af­ter Of­fi­cer Wil­son had fired the first shot and told the of­fi­cer, “I don’t have a gun, stop shoot­ing” in the sec­onds be­fore his death.

Yet the Jus­tice Depart­ment ex­on­er­ated Of­fi­cer Wil­son, con­clud­ing that Brown was shot af­ter strug­gling with, and then charg­ing to­ward, the of­fi­cer. Brown, who had al­legedly stolen cigars from a liquor store shortly be­fore his en­counter with Of­fi­cer Wil­son, nei­ther put up his hands to sur­ren­der nor was shot in the back while flee­ing, ac­cord­ing to the Jus­tice Depart­ment re­port.

Ut­ter dis­re­gard for old-fash­ioned truth is now deeply em­bed­ded in con­tem­po­rary Amer­ica, largely be­cause it ad­vances a par­tic­u­lar agenda. It re­minds of an ear­lier age of po­lit­i­cally cor­rect fa­ble, when ev­i­dence in the Al­ger Hiss case and the Julius and Ethel Rosen­berg case got in the way of ide­o­log­i­cally use­ful mytholo­gies.

In an­other ex­am­ple of fan­tasy rein­vented as re­al­ity, a Texas teen, Ahmed Mo­hamed, brought a strange con­trap­tion with dan­gling wires to class. He was promptly de­tained, un­der­stand­ably so in a touchy post-Septem­ber 11 cli­mate.

Ahmed claimed that he was a young in­ven­tor and was just show­ing off his cre­ation. He be­came a cause cele­bre — an iconic vic­tim of Texas-style anti-Is­lamic big­otry. Pres­i­dent Obama in­vited him to the White House. Sil­i­con Val­ley’s zil­lion­aire techies pro­nounced him a bud­ding ge­nius.

But the both­er­some truth again was not so glo­ri­ous. A num­ber of ex­perts have shown how Ahmed had sim­ply taken out the in­sides of an old Ra­dio Shack dig­i­tal clock, put it in a dif­fer­ent case with some wires hang­ing out, and passed it off as some sort of new elec­tronic time­piece.

No mat­ter. The myth of sup­posed re­li­gious and racial big­otry thwart­ing a young, mod­ern-day Alexan­der Gra­ham Bell proved more pow­er­ful than the ba­nal trick of repack­ag­ing a cheap clock.

Sub­se­quent fact-find­ing does not seem to dis­pel th­ese un­truths. In­stead, what could or should have hap­pened must have hap­pened, given that the no­ble ends of so­cial jus­tice are thought to jus­tify the means deemed nec­es­sary to achieve them.

The “60 Min­utes” memos about Bush’s Air Na­tional Guard ser­vice were never authen­ti­cated. Ev­ery­one now re­jects the myth that the Beng­hazi at­tack was a re­sult of a video. In­ves­ti­ga­tors proved that Michael Brown was not ex­e­cuted by Of­fi­cer Wil­son. Ahmed was nei­ther a young prodigy nor a vic­tim of bias.

But the leg­ends are cre­ated and per­sist be­cause they fur­ther pro­gres­sive agen­das — and the thou­sands of pres­ti­gious and lu­cra­tive ca­reers in­vested in them.

“No­ble lies” al­ter our very lan­guage through madeup words and eu­phemisms. In our world of fa­ble, there can be no such peo­ple as “il­le­gal aliens” who broke fed­eral laws by en­ter­ing the United States. “Work­place violence” is how the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion de­scribed the Fort Hood shoot­ings, rather than call­ing it ter­ror­ism. Amer­i­can ser­vice­men who shoot and die in Iraq are not sup­posed to be called “com­bat sol­diers.”

The en­light­ened ends of seek­ing racial and re­li­gious tol­er­ance, equal­ity of op­por­tu­nity and po­lit­i­cal ac­count­abil­ity are never ad­vanced by the il­lib­eral means of ly­ing. What makes this 2016 elec­tion so un­pre­dictable are fed-up vot­ers — in other words, Amer­i­cans who fi­nally are be­com­ing tired of be­ing lied to. Vic­tor Davis Hanson is a clas­si­cist and his­to­rian with the Hoover Institution at Stan­ford Univer­sity.

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