Lies, Democracy & Obama

obama-foreign-policy-policy-second-term-john-bolton-620x396The great French political philosopher Jean-François Revel once wrote, “Democracy cannot survive without a certain diet of truth. It cannot survive if the degree of truth in current circulation falls below a minimal level. A democratic regime, founded on the free determination of important choices made by a majority, condemns itself to death if most of the citizens who have to choose between various options make their decisions in ignorance of reality, blinded by passions or misled by fleeting impressions.” If Revel is correct, the rapidly diminishing level of truth in our public discourse suggests that we are in dire straits.

I’m not talking about the sordid lies politicians tell in order to survive. Lechers like Bill Clinton or Bob Filner caught in the act have lied from time immemorial. But that sort of desperate lie, whatever larger damage it may do, is nothing compared to ideological lies of the sort corrupting our society. Those lies reflect peculiarly modern ideas, particularly the notion that since truth is relative, presumed noble aims in the service of some bright future of peace and justice make it acceptable to tell lies or ignore the truth.

The history of communist support and subversion by those living in Western democracies is obviously filled with such lies and liars. Marxism, with its promised future world of equality, peace, and justice, made lying a moral obligation. After all, there were so many “enemies of the people” hindering and resisting the inevitable communist utopia, and standing in the way of a “scientific” political and economic evolution. Of course it was noble to lie away “inconvenient truths” that gave ammunition to reactionaries and fascists who, out of irrational spite or selfishness, were fighting against the paradise to come. Thus a Walter Duranty or a Lincoln Steffens could eagerly lie about the millions starved to death or slaughtered in the Soviet gulags, for nothing, not even the truth, could be allowed to derail the locomotive of revolution steaming toward the perfect world.

A similar form of ideological lie has compromised our understanding of Islam and the roots of Islamic terror. For nearly 2 decades now we have heard over and over that Islam is the “religion of peace,” that neo-jihadist violence is a “distortion” of Islamic theology, and that the violence, failures, and disorder rife throughout the Muslim world reflect stagnant economies, oppressive dictators, or the lingering effects of colonialism, imperialism, or even the Crusades. What is astonishing about this depiction of Islam is its complete contradiction of how the West consistently evaluated the religion of Allah for over 13 centuries, an evaluation based not just on the explicit doctrines of Islam and the records of its own historians, both of which celebrate and justify violence against the infidel, but on painful, first-hand experience of raids, invasions, plundering, and enslavement.

Winston Churchill, for example, in his 1898 memoir of fighting on the Northwest Frontier in what is now Pakistan, wrote of Islam, “That religion, which above all others was founded and propagated by the sword––the tenets and principles of which are instinct with incentives to slaughter and which in three continents has produced fighting breeds of men­­––stimulates a wild and merciless fanaticism.” Such comments were once unexceptional, for they were supported by the facts of history and the triumphalist chronicles of Muslim historians. They were true, as anyone alive at the time would have acknowledged, even those who admired Islam to some degree.

Of course today, Churchill’s description is dismissed as the bigotry of the imperialist telling lies to justify the continuing oppression of colonial peoples, and those like him who insist on repeating the truth once known by every schoolboy are attacked as “Islamophobes” or racists. Repeating such “distortions” must be avoided in order not to alienate all those millions of “moderate” Muslims who will reject jihadist violence and evolve into tolerant liberal democrats if only we convince them how much we respect and admire their wonderful religion. This bizarre view of truth is a toxic brew of Marxian “false consciousness,” pop-psychological self-esteem theory, and postmodern relativism in which power constructs “truths” that serve political and economic interests.

This idea found its most influential and baneful voice in the work of the late Edward Said, a Westernized Arab, child of affluence, and left-wing postmodern literary critic who lied about being a displaced Palestinian refugee and transformed himself into a Third-World victim of Western historical crimes.  Given that pedigree, unsurprisingly Orientalism has become one of the most popular books for progressive academics and multiculturalist propagandists, and has shaped 4 decades of academic studies on the Middle East. All this despite the fact that it is, as historian Robert Irwin writes, “a work of malignant charlantry in which it is hard to distinguish honest mistakes from willful misrepresentations.” Worse yet, its influence has been particularly destructive in Middle Eastern programs, the discipline government often calls on for help in determining policy in the region. According to Martin Kramer and his invaluable history Ivory Towers on Sand, Said’s work “crippled” Middle Eastern studies with a “take-no-prisoners assault, which rejected the idea of objective standards, disguised the vice of politicization as the virtue of commitment, and replaced proficiency with ideology.”

The lies told today about Islam have been given their intellectual and moral justification by Said’s distorted and philosophically garbled interpretation of history. Unfortunately, that interpretation, Lee Smith points out, “set the terms by which Western intellectuals and reporters could write about Arabs and Islam.” The facts once known by every scholar of the Middle East Said reduced to “a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.” Everything written by a Western scholar serves only to justify this domination, and so “every European, in what he could say about the Orient, was consequently a racist, an imperialist, and almost totally ethnocentric.” In a later book Said decried academic work critical of Islam for displaying “both a peculiarly immediate sense of hostility and a coarse, on the whole unnuanced, attitude toward Islam.” Such scholars are reflecting “national and corporate needs,” and as a consequence “anything said about Islam by a professional scholar is within the sphere of influence of corporations and governments.” Said was particularly disdainful of “speculations about the latest conspiracy to blow up buildings, [and] sabotage commercial airliners,” which Said called “highly exaggerated stereotypes.” Of course, the “stereotypes” soon became horrific reality, but that hasn’t stopped Said’s apologist disciples from repeating this line about jihadist terror.

This ideological lie persists because it serves the anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-Zionist dogmas and aims of progressive politics. It has shaped the thinking of many intellectuals and journalists, and has become an unthinking reflex for those like Obama whose world-view reflects the fashions of the left-wing university. Indeed, so pervasive has been this malign influence that even some who should have known better, like George Bush, unwittingly indulged some of these fantasies about the “religion of peace.” But the Obama administration has most severely compromised our foreign policy in the Middle East by indulging this delusion. The ideological lies most famously articulated by Edward Said have made him one of Obama’s “founding fathers,” as Dinesh D’Souza put it, his influence traceable throughout Obama’s foreign policies and statements, from his groveling Cairo speech, his appeasement of the mullahs, and his precipitate overthrows of Gadhafi in Libya and Mubarak in Egypt, to his lies about Benghazi, his attacks on Israel, and his designation of Nidal Hasan’s jihadist murders at Fort Hood as “workplace violence.”

Following Revel, we can say a healthy democracy is one in which truth is allowed to circulate freely and inform citizens so they can make the right decisions. But today institutionalized lies have more influence than the truth, with baleful effects visible all around us. This suggests that we are a sick culture, and our condition is worsening.

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  • objectivefactsmatter

    Please republish this once per week. You can’t persuade many people about anything depending on ideology until you rectify their fundamentally false beliefs.

  • Hank Rearden

    Allen West

  • camp7

    “Anything is better than lies and deceit!”
    ~Leo Tolstoy

    “This suggests that we are a sick culture, and our condition is worsening.”

    I can’t argue this premise. But the reality of faith is believing without factual evidence. The lies of this administration and supporting ideology will be their demise. The lies of tribal religionists will be a catalyst for transition the world has never experienced at this scale. It will be painful, many will suffer for the cause that will bring us to a place where truth will be the only survival medium as the continuer of human endeavor.

  • Chez

    I keep telling my father and friends and anyone who will listen: The failure of democracy is not just Obama-centered and is not unique to America. America’s rising debt existed long before Obama (though he has dramatically accelerated its growth)…..and every other industrial democracy is deeply in debt, some obviously much worse than others. All have large entitlements that insure systemic deficits for the foreseeable future. All got into this blind alley because of democratic norms and electorates that chose to live beyond rather than within their means.

    It’s heart-breaking to acknowledge…and I can’t offer any alternatives – I’ve been a proud and ardent proponent of human freedom my whole life – but in my mind, democracy is a failed social-system. Eventual insolvency and systemic collapse is almost a certainty. The public trough is open to all and no one dares to shut it down. China and other authoritarian countries would be wise not to follow our path.

    • WW4

      Good points. Likewise, Obamacare will doubtless be blamed for what would have happened even had McCain be elected: the inevitable collision of our health care system with the reality of its costs–something literally predicted for 30+ years. There’s already a culture shock being felt–and this is before the ACA has been implemented.

      Not that Obamacare is anything great: it’s a half-@ssed way to deal with this inevitability. Most of us are going to get less for more.

      There is a kind of brutal upside to it that I think conservatives can appreciate: people are going to learn a lot more about actual costs, which they previously had no idea about. They are going to viscerally understand that the responsibility for their health is theirs. They are going to have to deal with the consequences of their lifestyles. There will be competition for your health care dollar. And there will HAVE to be real discussions about entitlements.

      The thing about lies–official ones, personal ones–is that they eventually run up against reality. Most of us, now, did not experience the Great Depression or World War II in our lifetimes. Hard times have a way of clarifying things and dispelling b.s. Good times are great for allowing imagination to flower, but sometimes that leads to fantasy, complacency, and negligence.

      • Chez

        Unless of course Obamacare devolves into what Harry Reid and the Dems want….a single-payer, universal health-care system. Then, it will be the taxpayer – that ever-shrinking number of Americans who are still net contributors to government outlays – will pick up the tab for everybody….and no such lesson of personal responsibility will be learned at all by the majority, the trough-feeders.

        In any event, in 10 years time, people will be pining away for the old, “broken” health care model we’re about to discard. One can only guess what other things we’ll be pining away for ten years from now?….a functioning economy?….police and fire depts?…electricity?…running water?

        • WW4

          The irony is that a single payer system would be a vast improvement on this. I mean, no contest.

          Of course, its flaw is precisely as you’ve noted–at some point, the stone stops giving blood! Advances slow, quality declines…etc.

          My point was that the trough feeders who will be pining away for the old system (which brought us here) in this case were not even necessarily government dependents; they were feeding from their employer’s trough, largely insulated from the actual costs they were incurring.

          With health care, I think some way of combining mandatory coverage with the ability to still compete and profit from an insurer and provider’s standpoint is the best way to go. Switzerland!

      • ken

        Well Said +100

      • Jmaharry

        This post begins with a delusion widely held on the right — that Obama is exploding debt and deficits due to his secret belief that America is a malignancy on the world. (Other causes cited include Obama’s naïveté, Obama’s Machiavellian tactics, and Obama’s hidden affinity for Muslims, Communists, Terrorists, Sharia La and/or Reggie Love.)

        But, of course, the point about increased deficits is wrong.
        See, among many sources, this: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/jul/25/barack-obama/obama-says-deficit-falling-fastest-rate-60-years/

        This simple fact obliterates what has become a right wing article of faith. Just as it illuminate as absurdly comical so many of the charges that flow from Crazy Town, formerly known as the Republican Party.

  • davarino

    Truth will prevail as it always does, and liars always play their hand to early.

  • wildjew

    Bruce Thorton wrote: “This ideological lie persists because it serves the anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-Zionist dogmas and aims of progressive politics….. Indeed, so pervasive has been this malign influence that even some who should have known better, like George Bush, unwittingly indulged some of these fantasies about the “religion of peace….”

    I am sure conservative readers tire of my criticism of former President Bush. I am a life-long (better the 40 year) registered Republican who voted for George W. Bush in 2000. My late father was our Republican party Chairman, State Committeeman, etc. I remember early into Bush’s first term, I would discuss this problem of Israel, Islam, etc., with my father. Dad assured me Bush (every president for that matter) had some of the best minds in the world advising him. Why was it, within a few months after the 9/11 Muslim-terror attacks I was able to get up to speed on Islam by reading Robert Spencer and other scholars, and Bush was not able to get up to speed on Islam, not even for seven long years after the attacks!

    I cannot say I buy Mr. Thorton’s rationale that Bush “unwittingly” indulged some of these fantasies about the “religion of peace.” Even to this day, I’ve not seen or read where Bush said, “I was wrong about Islam,” about Barack Obama’s birthright. Why weren’t conservative titans like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others who carried Bush’s water able to get up to speed on Islam? Why did all these conservative activists and Republican leaders parrot Bush’s “war on terror,” albeit it’s not as pernicious as Obama’s war on “violent extremism?” Why did conservatives allow Bush to lie about Israelis “illegitimately” occupying Muslim land. Bush made the establishment of a Muslim-enemy state in Israel a formal goal of U.S. policy.

    Conservatives lecture me, “get over it. Bush isn’t the president,” as though it is not necessary to know “what went wrong.” Or care to know? I know as a conservative Bush made lots of mistakes which redounded to the Democrats favor in 2008 but his unwillingness (NOT unwittingness) to define the enemy led inexorably to the election of this dangerous Muslim-born nightmare who I consider a foreigner. I am not talking about citizenship.

    • Texas Patriot

      Way to go, WJ. Great post. I don’t get it either. But there’s something very funny going on here. My take is that it probably started When FDR met the original King Saud during WWII, which set in motion the Saudi oil dominance which exists to this day. No American president since has been able to say “no” to Saudi oil, and the result has been the virtual destruction of the U.S. economy. Now, for the first time since the thirties and forties, America and other Western nations have the technology and resources to get off middle eastern oil altogether. Once we do that, it will no longer be necessary to defend the indefensible. But you’re right. It’s not just Obama. It’s been every U.S. president since FDR up to and including Obama.

  • poest

    A concordant description of Obama and Democratic strategy:

    “Not every item of news should be published: rather must those who control news policies endeavor to make every item of news serve a certain purpose.”…Joseph Goebbels

    “And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’, ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past’”…George Orwell, “1984″

  • DontMessWithAmerica

    Revel was a dreamer. Shaw
    was a realist: “Democracy is the right of the incompetent mass to elect
    the corrupt few.” Democracy will never be an effective form of
    government as long as all incompetents, ignoramuses and marginal morons get a
    vote. Only lucky accidents for brief periods in the course of history provide
    countries with effective and productive governments. America seems to have run
    out of luck.

  • http://www.clarespark.com/ Clare Spark

    Jean-Francois Revel’s great book, How Democracies Perish, is a must read: see http://clarespark.com/2011/04/09/jean-francois-revel-and-father-mapple/. I paired him with Melville’s Father Mapple. “Jean-Francois Revel and Father Mapple.” Both were indefatigable searchers for truth in history, letting the chips fall.

  • John P.

    I knew this, but to be reminded of it
    refreshes my hatred of our Marxist leader.

    • Jmaharry

      Such a cogent, fervent analysis. Emblematic of what passes for insight on the right. Especially the bald lie that’s at the center of accusing our president of being a Marxist. What possible shred of evidence do you have? I mean excluding any of the fictions that have wafted your way from Alex Jones, World Net Daily or the 700 Club.

  • simplynotred

    Turn off the TV sets. Turn off the TV News. Toleration of a bastard lying thug for a president and his so-called rating is over. Most people do not like the man, his politics, nor his administration. The house of cards needs to come crumbling down, for the scandals are all True, and the Lies that are told regarding them are all telling. They are telling how desperate this man is to not face reality. This country needs truth taken from reality in order to care for and protect its citizens.

    This coward (another indicator of what this liar represents) has no interest in anyone but himself. To begin a nation wide boycott of this mans actions needs to occur now. Don’t listen to his words. Don’t promote his ideas. Shout down anyone who supports him. Laugh at his every fickled motion. Remove from office all those that support him. What ever and where ever you are make all of this known that Barack Obama is “No longer the President of the United States.” but a fool floundering in the wind.

  • WW4

    “George Bush unwittingly indulged some of the fantasies about the ‘religion of peace.”

    Why be an apologist? There was nothing “unwitting” about it. It’s statecraft.

    Whether you are running a country, a company, or even a family, sometimes the absolute truth is just not prudent. The problem, as this article pointedly states, is when the lies are “institutionalized.” But maybe that is overstated. I don’t think the Obama Administration is any more delusional that the Bush Administration. Foreign policy remains relatively consistent, as always. And I don’t think the public, deep down, is really on board with the “religion of peace” thing.

    My problem is not so much with the lies as with the secrecy. Lies can be dealt with, lies are expected, lies can be countered by observable reality. But secrecy–the valuing of secrecy and the de-valuing of privacy–these things concern me. They turn government into and “us and them” situation. This is different than, say, the secrecy required in the Cold War. So when Obama goes on Leno and says “We’re not spying on Americans,” we know he’s lying. We EXPECT that he will. And any president would lie about it. That is EXPECTED. What isn’t really apprehended, though, is the spying, itself.

    I don’t have an answer, because this is the technological reality we live in, and it involves the dimension of security, as well. But I do think privacy is fundamental to human dignity. And when we compromise that….

  • physicsnut

    The Jim Hightower ‘Lowdown’ for August has a piece about the
    Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    Evidently it is no more about ‘free trade’ than NAFTA was. There are bits about relocating factories, about internet monitoring, etc.

    Another bit is “Last year, Obama’s top trade rep, Ron Kirk, declared that locking out the people is necessary, because the deal’s details would outrage Americans and spook Congress from rubber stamping it. In short, to win public approval of TPP, the Obamacans say they must keep it hidden from the public.”

    how about that from a Lib !!!

  • Donald J DaCosta

    It is amazing and distressing to observe just how difficult it is for reasoned, intelligent, knowledgeable, discourse to overcome previously inculcated versions of an ideologically adjusted “truth.” The result is a vast swath of non Muslims so indoctrinated that any suggestion that Islam is not a religion of peace is met with immediate condemnation and dismissal, not worthy of even cursory consideration.

    It must be conceded that Muslims, dedicated to infiltrating western society, have succeeded, to a disturbing extent, in demonizing all dissenting voices by claiming they emanate from hate filled, rabid, right wing, spittle spewing, Islamophobes and claiming themselves to be the victims of nonexistent prejudice or acts of violence while the readily available evidence to the contrary, that occurs on a daily basis around the world, is completely and purposefully ignored in the west. It does not fit the paradigm.

    The west sees an aberration, a few bad actors that have hijacked a religion, a view that must be reinforced, also on a daily basis. Any attempt at exposure is met with hysterical accusations of hate speech followed often by subpoena’s, the Muslim Brotherhoods favorite means of retaliation and control called lawfare. They often lose if the case goes to trial but expect the plaintiff to settle and pay them a handsome sum to avoid the cost of litigation. Either way the financial penalties to the plaintiffs can be enormous. The initial front page kerfuffle serves its intended purpose then rapidly disappears. The end result, the considerable cost, in reputation, time and money, to the often vindicated but hapless plaintiff is of little to no interest to a complicit media.

    And so it goes. Repeat ten times, “Islam is a religion of peace.”

    • russedav

      For validation/support of your truthful observations see http://www.thereligionofpeace.com especially its piece on the “taqiya” doctrine that fools most of today’s “useful idiots.”

  • Ethan Stanton

    haha this is great. are you guys a spin off of the onion? I love it. You almost convinced me that you were serious! Or is this a middle school project?

  • russedav

    Granting all this as true, Thornton sadly conveniently ignores a comparable truth (or lie) no less significant, that as it’s false to call the degenerate religion of Islam true, it’s also false to fail to call the Christian religion true, that on which America’s Founders built the greatest nation of the world. People today are such stupid “useful idiots” that they successfully vie one with another on who can be the most ignorant fools about said two religions, failing to recognize the profoundly destructive nature of Islam’s “taqiya” doctrine (look up its meaning (lying or deception) at http://www.thereligionofpeace.com), stupidly imagining it no different from Christianity in requiring truth, peace and love, when the opposite is true of one of the most murderous & fanatical religions, like its founder, due to which so-called “modernate” Muslims are either ignorant of their own religion and how it DEMANDS violence from them or really actual heretics who reject said violence requirement, found in all legitimate interpretations of the Koran, thus making them false Mulsims whom the Koran demands orthodox Muslims MUST kill as the infidel, like they must kill us. Incredible Americans are such stupid fools they don’t realize the guy that’s in the White House is sword by his Muslim faith (only stupid fools or evil liars groundlessly pretend he’s not a devout Muslim scheming to destroy us) to kill us. God save us, for only He can.

  • you suck

    why did you delete my message? cant stand criticism?

  • fuckyousuckbags

    fuck you you dumb hillbillies

  • Danny Caplan

    This is a competent description of the lies, bought eagerly in whole cloth by the Western neo-Marxist (I know it’s redundant) intellectuals who are brainwashing our children and leading our foreign policies doctrines. Only the truth, which is the motive of the truly courageous (a very rare sort) can save us.

  • USA Retired

    The biggest lie of all is the fact that an illegal immigrant and criminal is allowed to remain in office, occupying the oval office illegally!

  • D.Paul.Beck

    Truth? You decide: http://vimeo.com/64316255

  • Ellman48

    “If Revel is correct, the rapidly diminishing level of truth in our public discourse suggests that we are in dire straits.”

    The election, and especially the reelection of Obama, is indisputable proof that Revel is correct. Most Americans still know NOTHING about Obama other than the fantasies and myths fabricated in his books and the propaganda media. We have elected someone that we don’t know for one reason alone, which we are very well acquainted with: he is black. This alone entitles him to extraordinary allowances in self-disclosure and in prevarication. Voting for a black man for president is now more important than the truth. But then, how many Americans are even capable of discerning the truth anymore? Most prefer their comfortable, reassuring lies to the truth. Truth is the first casualty in a leftist revolution (with or without the force of arms), which means that the people of Egypt displayed a rare perception of the truth and acted in accordance with it when they denounced and removed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Such perceptiveness and activism are rare and probably out of the realm of possibility in the USA.

  • Ellman48

    “This suggests that we are a sick culture, and our condition is worsening.”

    We are sick and getting sicker. The lunatics are running the asylum.

    The Left and Islam have, however, an irreconcilable ideological conflict which will never be resolved. The Left thinks that truth is ‘relative’, therefore, by definition not absolute. There is no absolute truth (except perhaps Marxism). Islamists, on the other hand, believe their religion is synonymous with truth, incontrovertible, ordained by Allah, and the standard of perfection for all men for all time. What a perfect example of two complex and comprehensive systems and ideologies based on complete fabrications and challenged minds to make Bruce Thornton’s point!

  • gunsmithkat

    You cannot defeat an enemy if you cannot name it. Geller, Spencer, Greenfield and others have been making this point for years. The Great Lie that kills.

  • Jmaharry

    This is the funniest bit of delusion I’ve read all day (admittedly, it’s only 8 am). Obama, hero to millions, won 332 electoral votes just nine months ago. Now, supposedly, “most” Americans do note like him?

    My proof that the opposite hold is in the votes just cast by over 160 million people. Before we remove thousands of Democrats from office, as you so passionately and hilariously demand, perhaps you can provide proof that substantiate your insane, paranoid raving.

    • simplynotred

      The total adult population is 310,644,240 out of which 169,000,000 Registered to Vote in 2012 which is 54.5 % of US Adults. Obama pulled 65.6 million or 51% of 129,000,000 which is 76 % of the Total Registered voters, which is 41% of the Total Adult Population of the United States. Which says that on the day of the election, Obama had 38.8% of the support of registered voters, and 21.1% of the support of the Total Adult Population of the United States. Since that time his popularity has fallen from 51% to 35% of the registered voters who voted in the 2012 election, which is 45.2 million adults, which is now 13.5% of the Total Adult Population of the United States. YOUR GUY SUCKS BIG