Truth Has Stumbled in the Streets
What happened in Benghazi has been hashed and rehashed so many times now anyone with the slightest ability to reason should know there are serious problems here. If it looks like a skunk, smells like a skunk … But in the world of politics reason is often abandoned for blind faith and skunks are often willfully confused with rabbits. The only truth politicians and pundits are interested in is the one that furthers their agenda.
This explains the politicians, but how does it explain the media's mishandling of the story? At one time a journalist or reporter's goal was uncovering the unbiased truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In pursuit of this goal, reason was an indispensable tool, as well as a fundamental understanding of right and wrong. This is not the case today. We have become completely polarized as a nation and, sadly, the media seems just as polarized. It is clear the so called “mainstream” media is slanted to the left, but when you consider the media as a whole, you see two sides of an ongoing argument. There is no neutral party. Fox news is not any more “fair and balanced” than CNN. We have come to the place that our president, in front of some sixty million people in a national debate, can insist that because he used the phrase “acts of terror” in his Rose Garden speech on September 12, he was not guilty in the days following that speech of misleading the American people into believing the attack was the result of a spontaneous riot in response to an anti-Islamic video. Now that President Obama has been reelected, he appears to have gotten away with this deception. Now, for just over half the electorate, all accusations of obfuscation against this administration are baseless and politically motivated, and, therefore, not credible. In a partisan world the representative of a party can say or do nearly anything, and still retain the approval of most of his or her party, especially after winning the election. It goes without saying the mainstream media has a liberal bias and, therefore, has lost interest in the truth. What about the people? What about us? Is the media reflecting us or are we being influenced by the media?
In Hans Christian Andersen's story, “The Emperor's New Clothes,” a young boy stated the obvious – the Emperor was naked. Then, all of the people repeated it and everyone cried: “The boy is right! The Emperor is naked! It's true!” We clearly do not live in a world even resembling the world Hans Christian Andersen imagined. We live in a country dominated by two political parties. Because we have two people vying for the position of “emperor,” half of the voting populous is always willing to continue admiring the emperor's clothes even after the boy's outcry. Those who have a stake in the outcome will always feel some sort of ownership in their candidate. If he is wrong, they are wrong. So he cannot be wrong … or naked.
It is amazing to watch intelligent people, whether in the media or affiliated with a political party, spin the truth to their liking. They know they will not be held accountable, except by the other side, and the other side is the enemy. No matter how shaky the ground on which they stand, roughly fifty percent will stand with them. We have become a society dominated by conflict, where there are seemingly always and only, two sides.
The postmodernist functions very well in this dualistic world. Bill Clinton comes to mind. In politics a postmodernist has a great advantage. He or she is not hampered by the truth. He says what needs to be said to win and the ends always justify the means. While this person is willing at times to make slight concessions for the greater good (the greater good of course being his own advancement), he ultimately plays for the team, his team. And there is safety in numbers. In this worldview the greatest good is to win and the greatest evil is to lose. People then begin to believe what they want to believe and what most serves their interests. Then they become entrenched. They no longer seek the truth. The truth is not their ally; their allies are the ones in the trench with them. Their enemies are outside the trench. Truth has no place and many times is itself the enemy. It is war and there are no rules. In a world of self-interested factions not tethered to any foundational principle (constitution), right and wrong are immaterial; being elected is supreme.
Couple this with the fact we have become of nation of consumers and you have a recipe for democracy in its worst form. This has led to the media's primary focal shift from the truth to entertainment and popularity. The truth is not always easy and cannot always be conveyed in a sound bite. The media in this country has in the past functioned somewhat like the Old Testament prophet did in Israel. The prophet kept the people and the king accountable to the truth. He, and in some cases, she, was not concerned with being popular. However, in that time just like in our time, people would often rather hear a lie. Isaiah said it this way regarding the people's general distaste for the truth: “Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits…” Here begins the process of redefining the truth, calling good evil and evil good.
We must hear the truth. We must have access to it. But we also need to receive it. It must have a place to take root. To some degree the media has told us what we want to hear. Granted, this is not taking into account the media's willful efforts at deception. I am simply attempting to show that much of the blame is ours. It cannot all be laid at the feet of the media. The media has denied us the truth to some extent because we no longer have an appetite for it. The mainstream media has become sort of a modern day false prophet, “prophesying deceits.” There is a scarcity of truth because there is no demand for it and, in a consumer driven society, it is all about supply and demand. To quote Isaiah again: “… justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter.”
If we want to change the political system we must change the culture. If we want to change the culture we must change the people.