Why Leaders Lie

Why Leaders Lie

‘Politicians lie.  Everybody knows that.  Well, did you know the lies our leaders are telling these days are bolder and more brazen than ever and that they threaten to imperil the quality of American life for generations to come?  A President looks straight into the camera and promises the people “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” knowing full well that is a promise ObamaCare cannot keep.  After conceding over twenty times that a president cannot alter our immigration policies because “we’re a nation of laws” and the president’s “job is to execute the laws that are passed,” because he cannot “bypass congress and change the law [himself] . . . that’s not how democracy works,” that president goes ahead and fundamentally alters the nation’s immigration laws.  How can the president lack constitution authority one day and suddenly acquire it the next?  Days after a U. S. Ambassador and three brave members of his security detail are slaughtered in Benghazi, Libya, our leaders (from the President, Sec. of State and UN Ambassador on down) pledge to bring to justice the amateur American film maker responsible for the slaughter.  Protesters protesting ‘rampant” police racism in America run into the streets and onto professional stadium fields raising their hands and chanting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.”  And this, despite a preponderance of eye-witness testimony and forensic evidence proving that Ferguson’s Mr. Brown did and said no such thing the night he was shot.

Prominent leaders and a noticeable segment of the American public seem determined to believe what they want, willfully disregarding any and all available evidence to the contrary.  Agitators are not ashamed to look their minions in the eye and lie through their teeth.  So what’s going on?  And what does this trend portend?

There is a certain “prejudice” that attaches to the accusation that this or that leader is lying. It presumes there is an absolute truth to which the “lie” can be compared, a “certainty” that things are not as they are being portrayed. In all its guises and manifestations a lie seeks to evade reality.  But what if there is no absolute reality to evade?  What if there is only this opinion or that, i.e., ” a variety of “plausible” narrative reports?  If there is no truth, there can be no lie.  Hardly foreign to our culture, it is prescribed practice in every American courtroom. Adversaries who serve as counsel for the opposing sides seek to persuade judge and jury of that account most conducive to the interest of the party each represents.  Is it an accident that the most successful courtroom attorneys go into politics, pleading for our votes and pledging to do their honest best?

The practice was not born yesterday.  It has long since spilled out of the courts and onto our political “streets.”  In the Communist Manifesto Marx bellowed that “the ruling ideas of any epoch are merely the ideas of the ruling class.”  The masters have ever invoked hallowed ideals to mask their ugly acts.  If the founders truly believed in every person’s right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” they would not have bought and sold African slaves, plundered the property of native American tribes and kept women in legal and marital bondage.  Cherished ideals are but empty sounds designed not to convey a grand truth, but to achieve a wicked purpose, to exploit and oppress.  The Declaration of Independence stood for one thing.  The life and times revealed something else again.  “Truth,” says the savvy skeptic, is but a trick and trap to justify injustice and pacify a gullible populace.  In Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky explained:

If you actively opposed the Nazi occupation and joined the underground Resistance, then you adopted the means of assassination, terror, property destruction, the bombing of tunnels and trains, kidnapping and the willingness to sacrifice innocent hostages to the end of defeating the Nazis.  Those who opposed the Nazi conquerors regarded the Resistance as a secret army of self-less, patriotic idealist, courageous beyond expectation and willing to sacrifice their lives to their moral convictions.  To the occupation authorities, however, these people were lawless terrorists, murderers, saboteurs, assassins, who believed that the end justified the means, and were utterly unethical . . . . in such conflict, neither protagonist is concerned with any value except victory. It is life or death (P. 27)

Like the Ferguson marchers and Wall Street Occupiers today, Alinsky’s Nazi occupiers started out a faint voice in an ideologically diverse political wilderness.  But tough times and promises of restored glory brought a mighty orator to power.  Powerful rhetoric and a chest-pounding push for power gave rise to the twin sorrows of terror and tyranny.  Propaganda, indoctrination and the silencing of all dissent led a nation and world to ruin. It’s a tale poignantly depicted in the 1940 movie, The Mortal Storm (starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan).

The story is set in a quaint Austrian village nestled in the high Alps not far from the Swiss border.  As the curtain rises village life is idyllic. Viewers are introduced to a wise and warm-hearted professor.  Preaching liberal tolerance toward all, it is his great fortune to be surrounded by a loving family and admiring students and colleagues.  Then comes the Nazi occupation and the world is turned upside down. As students report to class in Nazi uniform, spouting the party line, intolerance toward dissent and everything Jewish reaches into every corner of the popular psyche.  Bearing Jewish blood, himself, the mild-mannered professor is stripped of his academic post, shunned by his students, taken from his family and sent to prison where he falls ill and dies.  For James Stewart and Maureen O’Sullivan, trapped in a world gone stark raving mad with intolerance and a full-throttled suppression of thought and expression, there was only escape across an inhospitable Alpine pass to neutral Switzerland.  The trek does not end happily

Dennis Zahalla lived through the Nazi’s rise to power and explained in a recent Facebook post what the early days were like.   “Very few people were true Nazis, but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come.”

Alinsky intended his Rules to be “A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals.” These are the folks who have signed up for a war on America’s cultural values and institutions, in a word, “capitalism.” And, for them the war won’t be over until a more congenial, socialism has taken firm hold on American soil.  They begin by telling us what we can and cannot say (aka political correctness). In time, they’ll tell us what we can and cannot do (witness the ObamaCare mandates).  The tools in their ideological shed are on full display:  the convenient double-standard, the “victim’s” anguished appeal for “justice,” the phony “war on women,”  the odious claim of “equivalence” (e.g., Nazis and an underground resistance, Israeli and Palestinian strikes, etc.) or the shameless display of “do as I say not as I do.”

Since there is no final truth or objective reality, just a matter of which side wins and gets to write the “history” of the times, these progressives are free at any moment to affirm whatever narrative spin suits their “noble” purpose. The aim of the exercise: to enable government to pick our pockets and place an ever-heavier burden on our backs.  Though there is no absolute truth, these sly crusaders are somehow certain that social justice trumps mere “old-fashioned” justice (where people are allowed to live free and enjoy the just fruits of honest industry).  They’ll also tell you that man-made climate change is “settled science” and that the global warming “deniers” need to be silenced and shut out of their professions.  Since there is no reality (wink, wink) there are no lessons of history to heed. It’s a world where “anything goes,” And to the victor will go the spoils.

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Jerome Huyler is a former assistant professor at Seton Hall University. He earned his PhD in political science from the New School University in 1992 and his bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College, where he majored in philosophy. He is also the author of: Locke in America: The Moral Philosophy of the Founding Era. And Everything You Have: The Case Against Welfare.

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