BYRON YORK: Has anyone actually read the El Paso manifesto? Much discussion was spurred by an article in the New York Times with the headline, “El Paso Shooting Suspect’s Manifesto Echoes Trump’s Language.” The story quoted just 28 words of the nearly 2,400-word manifesto.
The nice thing about the Wayback Machine is that eveery lie ever told on the Internet is preserved. Dystel & Goederich Literary Management’s bio on one of their clients: BARACK OBAMA is the junior Democratic senator from Illinois and was the dynamic keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
BARACK OBAMA is the junior Democratic senator from Illinois and was the dynamic keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He was also the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He was born in Kenya to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, has been a long time New York Times bestseller.
If you have ever written a bio for a publisher, you know these are not made up by them. They start with your version and edit. Maybe he was lying to make himself sound better, but if someone actually believed him, that’s Obama’s fault.
As long as people are combing through everything President Trump says, writes, or tweets for anything that can be called a “lie”, here’s a list of President Obama’s “lies”. (Hey… Sauce, goose, gander. Right?)
“The Lid” compiled this list, and makes no claim as to it being a complete list. (See linked post for the complete list, details for each claim, and links to sources.)
Some of the things on this list are major events that should scare the daylights out of any true libetarian or any one else who cares about civil liberties.
Other things on this list are medium things that some Obama supporters may dislike but would be willing to overlook in light of the things that Obama has done which they like.
And some of the things on this list may seem trivial, but they are still are an interesting reflection of how Obama ran his Administration.
Every claim made in this list is sourced.
1) Carried out military interventionism in Libya without Congressional approval
2) Gave a no-bid contract to Halliburton cronies – just like Bush did
3) Has an administration full of lobbyists, after promising he wouldn’t have any
4) Has close ties to Wall St., but pretends to support Occupy Wall St.
5) Broke his promise to close Guantanamo Bay
6) Supported the $700 billion TARP corporate-welfare bailout just like Bush
7) Waged the biggest war against medical marijuana of any president, which was the opposite of what he had promised
8) Nominated a six-time tax cheater to head the government agency that enforces the tax laws
9) Gave tax dollars to AIG executives, then pretended to be outraged about it
10) Expanded Bush’s unconstitutional government faith based programs
11) Supported Bush’s “unconstitutional” Patriot Act
12) Increased the national debt more in one term than Bush did in two
13) Agrees with Bush’s support of unconstitutional, indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without filing any charges
14) Agrees with Bush’s support of unconstitutional, warrantless wiretapping
15) Avoided prosecution of Wall. St criminals
16) Had four U.S. citizens killed without judicial process
17) Ordered private company to fire 1,000 employees
18) Stole money from retired teachers and police officers
19) Supported release of convicted mass murderer
20) Illegally put thousands of guns into hands of criminals
21) Fired Inspector General for discovering that Obama’s friend had embezzled government funds
22) Lied about putting health care negotiations on C-SPAN
23) Lied about letting people keep their health insurance
24) Lied about the cost of Obamacare
25) Gave tax dollars to campaign contributors and lobbyists, and falsely claimed the money was for “green energy”
26) Had “off the record” meetings with lobbyists
27) Falsely claimed to believe in public education
28) Had armed SWAT agents raid a law-abiding guitar factory because it was owned by a Republican
29) Shut down Amish farm
30) Rewarded his fundraisers by giving them federal jobs
31) Ignored constitutional requirements for appointees
32) Gave tax dollars to corrupt private contractors to build 504 units of mice infested, slum housing, with backed up sewage
33) Used tax dollars to glorify murderers
34) Falsely claimed that the U.S. Supreme Court had never overturned any laws that had been passed by Congress
35) Supported new bailouts for speculators who caused housing bubble
36) Spent $205,075 of taxpayer money on a shrubbery which nurseries sell for $16
37) Spent taxpayer money to see if using cocaine helped rats to enjoy the music of Miles Davis
38) Tried to outlaw family farms
39) Auctioned off ambassadorship to the Netherlands
40) Claimed that written tests are a form of “racial discrimination”
41) Made the TSA even more abusive and ridiculous than it had been under Bush
42) Illegally demanded monetary payment for Freedom of Information Act request
43) Fined public school $15,000 for selling soda
44) Conducted dangerous and illegal scientific experiments on sick people without always informing them of the risks
45) Closed the Vietnam Memorial for seven hours on Memorial Day so he could have his picture taken
46) Had the government take 60.8% ownership of General Motors
47) Forced banks to give mortgages to people who could not afford to pay them back, and collected $23,000 in legal fees for himself for doing so
48) Stole money from retired Delphi employees
49) Used taxpayer money to buy soda for $3.40 per can
50) Paid $7 million per household to connect people to the internet
51) Had a double standard for Bain Capital
52) Broke promise to teen campaign volunteers
53) Falsely claimed to know more about Judaism than any other President
54) Exempted wind farms from the penalties that other companies get for killing birds
55) Falsely claimed that he had never belonged to the New Party
56) Supported punishing students based on their race instead of on their behavior
57) Used “off the books” funding for military interventionism
58) Tried to silence criticism of auto-bailouts
59) Dismissed charges of voter intimidation, despite video evidence
60) Falsely claimed to support the second amendment
61) Nominated a communist who said 9-11 was an inside job
62) Falsely said he would not raise taxes on the poor and middle class
63) Falsely said he wanted to simplify the tax code, when he actually wanted to make it more complex
64) Oversaw some of the world’s worst increases in corruption
65) Falsely said “This is the most transparent administration in history”
66) Falsely claimed he would wait five days before signing bills
67) Falsely claimed “stimulus” spending would be transparent
68) Announced plans to send the the military to Australia
69) Falsely promised to accept public campaign financing and spending limits
70) Tried to silence video on YouTube
71) Rejected international help to clean up BP oil spill
72) Falsely said he opposed government waste when he actually supported it
73) Nominated past frequent user of illegal drugs to keep illegal drugs out of schools
74) Avoids firing aides who owe back taxes
75) Used Abbott and Costello style economics as a basis for national policy
76) Sent U.S. troops to Africa
77) Made secret plans for his second term
78) Holds double standard for people who use crude and vulgar language toward women
79) Illegally gave Obamacare exemptions to unions that supported the passage of Obamacare
80) Defended Bush administration’s unconstitutional, unwarranted use of GPS device
81) Opposes newspapers reporting the news
82) Supported Bush administration for fining CBS for showing Janet Jackson’s breast
83) Allowed campaign contributors to bring lobbyists into White House
84) Falsely said that criminal background checks constituted “racial discrimination”
85) Was cited by nine states for committing 21 illegal acts
86) Tried to seize hotel because some of its customers had used illegal drugs
87) Falsely said his campaign was not funded by large donors
88) Holds double standard for subsidizing solar power companies
89) Tried to create an administration full of tax cheaters
90) Hired a Communications Director who admires a mass murderer
91) Tried to replace science with political correctness
92) Made recess appointments when Congress was not in recess
93) Said the health insurance mandate was not a tax, but later told the Supreme Court that it was
94 ) Lied about being his “brother’s keeper”
95) Punishes hospitals for saving the lives of patients with heart disease
96) Supports guns for himself and his wife, but opposes them for everyone else
97) Falsely claimed that he “cut spending by over a trillion dollars in 2011″
98) Practices environmental hypocrisy
99) Pressured public schools to replace Catcher in the Rye with a book on window insulation
100) Approved giving 20 F-16 fighter jets to a Sharia dictatorship
960) Illegally seized $33,000 from law abiding restaurant owner Carole Hinders
961) “Ecuador Family Wins Favors After Donations to Democrats”
962) During Obama’s first six years as President, new rules issued by the EPA contained 43 times as many words as the Gutenberg Bible
963) For four years after a new NASA rocket program was cancelled, Obama continued construction of a $349 million test facility that had been started by President Bush
964) Hired a convicted thief to work at HUD, who then went on to steal more than $800,000 of taxpayers’ money
965) Spent $33,341 to find out if gay and lesbian couples lived near stores that sold cigarettes
966) Allowed his friend Al Sharpton to avoid being prosecuted for long term non-payment of millions of dollars of taxes
967) Although carbon dioxide is the bottom of the food chain, John Holdren, Obama’s science adviser, said we should try to get its emissions “close to zero by 2100″
968) Used taxpayers’ money to fund a “blacks only” meeting for the All African People’s Revolutionary Party
969) Lied about the rate of economic growth
970) Eric Schultz, Obama’s Deputy Press Secretary, falsely said “We don’t give concessions to terrorist organizations”
971) The “most transparent administration in history” said it won’t let the public see its 332 page net neutrality plan until after the FCC voted on its implementation
972) Obama’s 332 page net neutrality plan contained excessive levels of taxation and regulation
973) “President Obama’s 2016 budget targets retirement accounts”
974) Tax Policy Center, a liberal think tank, said Obama’s proposed “middle class” tax cut was actually an increase in taxes for the middle class
975) Bill Maher said Obama “… is perhaps the worst president we’ve had on clamping down on the press”
976) George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley said of Obama, “… many of his actions… are violations of his oath of office”
977) Julie Moreno borrowed $14,000 to pay forcataract surgery because her Obamacare policy refused to pay for it
978) Lied about the unemployment rate
979) Instead of deporting illegal aliens, the Obama administration spent taxpayers’ money to give them hormone therapy
980) Illegally gave 982,000 work permits to illegal aliens and other foreign nationals who were not legally qualified for admission
981) Obamacare customer service telephone number connected an Obamacare customer to “someone reading off a script in the Philippines”
982) During the first year that Obamacare was in effect, the percentage of U.S. citizens who said they had trouble affording health care increased from 36% to 46%
983) A year after Obamacare took effect, the New York Times wrote, “For still others, the new fees are so confusing and unsupportable that they just avoid seeing doctors”
984) Although Obamacare gives employers an incentive to reduce their employees’ hours, Obama criticized companies that actually responded to this incentive
985) Falsely said, “There is no reason for an employer who is not currently providing health care to their workers to discourage them from either getting health insurance on the job or being able to avail themselves of the Affordable Care Act.”
986) In February 2015, Democrats who voted for Obamacare complained that people actually had to pay for it
987) “Top teacher” said she resigned because of Obama’s Common Core and Obama’s continuation of Bush’s No Child Left Behind
988) Gave out even more illegal exemptions to Obamacare
989) Sent false tax information to 800,000 Obamacare enrollees
990) Falsely said that “economic grievances” were a cause of terrorism
991) Illegally continued part of his illegal amnesty program even after a federal judge blocked it
992) Department of Energy spent taxpayers’ money on a casino night, a Super Bowl party, a golf tournament, a banquet on a dinner cruise boat, and dinner at the NASCAR Hall of Fame
993) Advised border patrol agents to release drunk drivers
994) Made it possible for illegal aliens to collect back tax refunds even if they had never actually paid any taxes
995) After an Islamic terrorist who murdered four Jews at a kosher supermarket in France said he had specifically targeted them because they were Jewish, Obama falsely said the attack was “random”
996) Broke his promise to release a 28 page document which allegedly proved that the Saudi Arabian government had supported the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks
997) Pressured colleges to adopt sexual harassment rules that were so bad that 28 Harvard Law School professors signed a letter of protest
998) Illegally refused to provide annual reports on ways to reduce the complexity of the tax code
999) Illegally implemented net neutrality rules
1,000) Falsely said there were “nearly 7 million American Muslims in our country”
1,001) Held a fundraiser in the living room of terrorist bomber and communist Bill Ayers
1,002) After Eric Holder participated in a five day takeover of an abandoned ROTC headquarters at Columbia University, Obama hired him to be the country’s highest ranking law enforcement official
1,003) Used taxpayers’ money to refurbish Muslim mosques in other countries
1,004) After Hillary Clinton stole $28,500 of furniture from the White House, Obama hired her to be Secretary of State
1,005) After Hillary Clinton cheated on her taxes, Obama hired her to be Secretary of State
1,006) In her own words, Hillary Clinton, Obama’s Secretary of State, said that her own use of a private email account for official government business had “shredded” the U.S. Constitution
1,007) Falsely said he learned about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account “the same time everybody else learned it through news reports”
1,008) The “most transparent administration in history” illegally ignored Freedom of Information requests from Associated Press regarding information on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
1,009) Gave H-1B visas to Southern California Edison so it could fire its American employees and replace them with with foreign workers – the company even had the nerve to order the American employees to train their foreign replacements
1,010) Loretta Lynch, Obama’s nominee for Attorney General, falsely said that illegal aliens have a “right” to work in the U.S.
1,011) Proposed an illegal retroactive tax on corporate income held abroad
1,012) Even though it would be illegal, Josh Earnest, Obama’s Press Secretary, said Obama was “very interested” in raising taxes without approval from Congress
1,013) Spent taxpayers’ money to pay government employees to try to find out how a picture of one of his daughters got on the internet
1,014) Falsely said the Ferguson, Missouri police department was racist because it stopped black drivers at a higher rate than white drivers, which contradicted a report by Obama’s own administration which said the reason black drivers were stopped more often than white drivers was because black drivers were more likely to break the traffic laws
1,015) Falsely said the proposed Keystone XL pipeline “bypasses the United States”
1,016) Proposed a new rule that would falsely define ditches, drains, seasonal puddle-like depressions, intermittent streams, and ponds as “navigable waters”
1,017) “Why This Liberal No Longer Supports Universal Health Care: An Open Letter to President Obama”
1,018) After Senator Hillary Clinton gave taxpayer’s money to someone who donated to her foundation, Obama hired her to be Secretary of State
1,019) After Hillary Clinton falsely said she was “under sniper fire,” Obama hired her to be Secretary of State
1,020) Misquoted the Quran to give the false impression that it did not support murder
1,021) The “most transparent administration in history” refused to say whether or not Hillary Clinton signed a form declaring that she had turned over all work related emails when she quit her job as Secretary of State
1,022) After Wal-Mart board of director member Hillary Clinton refused to criticize Wal-Mart for waging war against unions, Obama hired her to be Secretary of State
1,023) The “most transparent administration in history” “set a new record again for more often than ever censoring government files or outright denying access to them”
1,024) Illegally ignored a Freedom of Information Act request from the ALCU regarding information about airport security
1,025) One of Obama’s professors from Harvard Law School said Obama was “burning the Constitution”
1,026) The “most transparent administration in history” exempted itself from Freedom of Information regulations during the same week that was supposed to be a celebration of the Freedom of Information Act
1,027) Falsely said his net neutrality plan would not allow any new taxes to be placed on the internet
1,028) Obama gave the Medal of Freedom to communist Dolores Huerta, and refused to let an anti-communist hero Lech Walesa into the White House
1,029) Invited illegal aliens, who had previously been deported, to return to the U.S.
1,030) After Obama had been given multiple intelligence briefings about the threat of ISIS, he dismissed the threat by referring to them as a “jayvee team.” However, he later claimed that he had not specifically referred to ISIS as a “jayvee team.”
1,031) Allowed recipients of “stimulus” spending to violate labor laws and tax laws by illegally classifying their employees as independent contractors
1,032) “Despite Obama’s pledge to curb it, NSA mass surveillance wins rubber stamp”
1,033) “Reporters say White House sometimes demands changes to press-pool reports”
1,034) Obama created an “enemies list” which consisted of law abiding U.S. citizens who made large donations to Romney’s campaign. Obama then used the government to harass one of the people on this list.
1,035) Prevented the residents of Mandeville Canyon, California, from traveling so he could have a fundraiser
1,036) Changed a government transparency website to make it very difficult to find information
1,037) Refused to file federal charges against an EEOC employee who had stolen $60,000 in taxpayers’ money
1,038) Allowed the same person to simultaneously work as Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department and as a director of Hillary Clinton’s foundation for three years
1,039) Obama forced a woman to give birth in highway traffic instead of in a hospital so he could have a fundraiser
1,040) Illegally gave illegal aliens free airplane flights to enter the U.S.
1,041) Classified Puerto Ricans as “disabled” because they spoke Spanish
1,042) After supporting Obama in both elections, the National Education Association complained that Obamacare’s Cadillac tax would “unfairly cause hardship to American workers and their families”
1,043) One day after Obama said he would remove Cuba from the U.S. State Sponsors of Terror list, a Cuban sponsored terrorist organization murdered 10 people and injured 17
1,044) When Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, Obama allowed Russians who donated to her foundation to buy American uranium
1,045) Obama refused to fire Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after she broke her promise to publish all donors to her foundation
1,046) Obama refused to fire Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after she broke her promise to let the State Department review all new or increased donations to her foundation from foreign governments
1,047) Obama refused to fire Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after her foundation lied on its tax returns about donations from foreign governments
1,048) The “most transparent administration in history” ignored ten consecutive questions about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s foundation
1,050) Under Commander-in-Chief Obama, male ROTC cadets were ordered to wear women’s high heeled shoes while marching in public
1,051) Burned more than 9,000 gallons of fossil fuel so he could tell other people to reduce their own use of fossil fuel
1,052) Broke his promise to slow the rise of the oceans
1,053) Used falsified environmental data to force an 80-year-old oyster farming business to shut down
1,054) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave tax dollars to Laureate University at the same time the university gave an estimated one million dollars in “speaking fees” to her husband, Bill Clinton
1,055) “181 Clinton Foundation donors who lobbied Hillary’s State Department”
1,056) Companies that donated to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s foundation were given contracts from the U.S. government to help Haiti after its 2010 earthquake
1,057) Although Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s brother had no background in mining, he was placed on the board of a Haitian mining company that received funding from U.S. taxpayers
1,058) Used U.S. taxpayers’ money to help the Haitian government force landowners off their land at gunpoint, and to bulldoze their crops
1,059) Falsely said that Caracol Industrial Park in Haiti would have 65,000 jobs after he gave it money from U.S. taxpayers
1,060) Falsely said, “As president I will recognize the Armenian genocide”
1,061) Continued Bush’s illegal use of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to prosecute a fisherman who had thrown undersize fish back into the water
1,062) One of the illegal drug possessing, gang member, illegal aliens that Obama illegally gave amnesty to, later went on to murder four people
1,063) In March 2015, Democratic U.S. Senators who voted for Obamacare made yet another complaint about Obamacare, and asked for yet another delay to it
Now some of these may strike an honest person as a trivial mistake, omission, or difference of opinion. But it’s supremely important to know how tall a stack of 1000 Big Macs really is.
Knoll’s Law of Media Accuracy: Everything you read in the newspapers is absolutely true — except for the rare story of which you happen to have firsthand knowledge.
Erwin Knoll, editor, The Progressive (Attributed)
I’ve also seen this attributed to Mark Twain and Henry Hazlett
Remember when the coming ice age was the big concern in the press? I sure do. I also remember a book, Climates of Hunger, which warned that the past few decades have been uncharacteristically warm, and the climate was overdue for a reversion to its chilly norm. Result: shorter growing seasons, droughts, and starvation.
A brief history of climate panic…both warming and cooling
For at least
114120 years, climate “scientists” have been claiming that the climate was going to kill us…but they have kept switching whether it was a coming ice age, or global warming.
There follows a long list of items, many of them linked to sources.
Now, the scientific community claims the scientific literature doesn’t reflect the popular fears of a new ice age. Because it wasn’t in the journals, it wasn’t a real concern.
Well, it seems to me, if information transmission from the scholarly journal articles to the popular press is so subject to distortion, why should I trust the articles about global warming / climate change in today’s press?
I wake up happy every day in Trump’s America because I’m convinced that I’m watching a wonderful documentary in which America and Americans are thriving.
The elite media seems to have a case of raging oikophobia.
A good friend of mine wrote me recently. He complained about smug leftist neighbors who are “making decisions to ‘feel good’ with virtually no regard for true factual input or testing.”
I get this a lot.
If you want to understand Donald Trump, you need understand why this complaint is myopic. Once you do understand, you’ll never see politics the same way again. You’ll also begin to grasp that leftism does work, and that you’ve just failed to understand how.
Which is why you lose so often.
Want a clue?
“Feel good” about what?
Not about being right, which is best described as “useful, to a point.” Aristotle noticed over 2,000 years ago that many people aren’t persuadable by logical arguments. So what’s the “feeling good” all about?
The right’s favorite mistake
Try this on for size:
People often take public positions in an attempt to increase their social status.
If you’ve been in a corporate setting, or settings with certain friends, I don’t need to offer further examples of this idea. You’ve seen it happen, and you also know that you need to be “reading the room” at all times before you speak and act. Failure costs status. People notice this dynamic, and act accordingly.
I didn’t say it was an ideal state of affairs. But a truly rational person must notice reality. My friend and his wife are picking up on a “we’re higher status than you” signal, and it’s part of the reason they’re so upset.
Macro examples also abound:
Do you really think it’s a coincidence that leftism and its “Diversity Pokemon Points” amount to a full caste system?
Do you have any doubt about The left’s hatred for those who will not stay in their assigned status?
Have you noticed their quickness to turn on their own allies? Fail to follow the latest fad, and your status is demoted.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that endlessly callous virtue signaling is the identifying badge of our modern try-hard Striver Class.
Maybe that’s because American public education is now a 20-year Milgram Experiment. Where the meta-message inside political correctness is to override your own judgement, in favor of deliberately-shifting judgements from people with higher status.
These aren’t accidents. They’re clues.
Leftism isn’t a policy machine or an economic machine. Its economic results would tell you that much in a hurry. But the machine keeps running. Which means it must work for something. The correct question is: in what way does it work?
Analysis: Leftism is a status machine. A very, very successful status machine. Conservatives have lost status battle after status battle, often because they fought it as a policy battle. It rarely is.
That’s conservatism’s most consistent and most damaging mistake.
Why do the media have power? Because they have social status with ordinary people. Are we still hearing about Watergate — decades later? The Pentagon Papers? How many movies seem to exist just to show journalists as heroes? Or let’s take a different tack: What’s the attraction of such a low-paying profession? Status given by the profession, and status from rubbing shoulders with high-status people. Status by acting as a vector for status signals, which is what every women’s magazine is. Ditto publications like WIRED, which is just Cosmo for geeks.
The media offers people clues about what things are high status within the areas they cover. People notice, and act accordingly. Yet most conservatives still don’t understand Trump’s response:
If I lower the media’s status, I will wreck their power.
So The Donald says that the media has “some of the most dishonest people” he has ever seen. Not an arm’s length complaint. A direct and personal status attack, rooted in truth.
Trump also acts in ways that cause journalists to fulfill his pre-suasion labeling. He makes “outrageous” statements, which many people outside the Beltway Bubble agree with. Those statements receive over-the-top media attacks, which make his enemies look ridiculous. Then events swiftly show that Trump had a point. Trump rubs it in, using the media’s own “Fake News” term against them and pouncing on every sloppy and dishonest mistake. As a final topper, Trump makes the dishonest media a focus during every massive rally. Which strengthens his out-grouping effect among participants and viewers.
He uses ridicule and lèse majesté, not bended knee and appeals — note that subordinating word — to logical argument.
American belief in the credibility of their news media is now at about 32 percent. That’s the lowest ever polled, and an 8 percent drop from the lowest point of the 2008-2015 period. The media has lost audience, and a lot of power. When Vogue tried to damage Melania by ripping her wardrobe, activists promptly made memes from a photo of the weird-looking critic. The attack instantly lost its power.
Facebook has tried to fight these trend lines by flagging items as “fake news.” Recently, the social media giant decided to stop. Too many people sought out flagged articles. Or, put another way: In many circles, the mainstream media’s status has become negative.
What an amazing amount of damage to a hostile institution.
Rational people notice and acknowledge real-world results. Even the left has noticed.
So, why hadn’t anyone ever done this before? In fairness, Newt Gingrich had some success in the 2012 primaries, and Ted Cruz has also tried. But they lacked the full array of tools. Worse, they didn’t understand how to make the media their enemy.
Once you understand conservatives’ biggest and most consistent mistake, it all becomes clear.
People Are Questioning Your Sacred Cows? Listen Up
There’s good reason to scrutinize claims like the Roy Moore mall story. It’s certainly not to protect a pedophile.
I’m skeptical about the mall story. No one in the New Yorker story seems to have been directly involved with the alleged mall ban; every source who was willing (even eager) to talk seems to have heard the story from someone else. It seems probable that there was a rumor floating around that Moore was banned from the mall; it seems possible that this rumor was even true. But it’s also possible it’s false. Those of us over a certain age will remember how many compelling, yet false, urban legends we believed before Snopes.com was invented. And who was the source for every one of those legends? That stalwart figure, “a friend of a friend.”
So without better confirmation than “35 years ago, I heard from a guy that Roy Moore got banned from the mall,” I will withhold judgment on whether Moore was actually banned. I tweeted as much after I read the New Yorker story. And was immediately inundated with aggressive accusations of covering up for a child molester and general partisan hackery.
I am not generally identified as a member of Team Trump, much less Team Roy Moore. Indeed, prior to my tweet about the mall story, I’d been saying some fairly astringent things about the people who were attacking Moore’s accusers — or worse, saying “But Democrats covered for Bill Clinton!” I just didn’t happen to think this particular story was very strong.
I also didn’t think it particularly mattered. If Moore did everything he has been credibly accused of, would we be inclined to give him a pass because that supreme judicial authority, the mall of Gadsden, Alabama, never got around to banning him?
But as I attempted to explain why this story looks weak to a lot of journalists (I was not the only one who noticed the thin sourcing), I began to understand why I’d triggered such outrage. Because several people asked me some version of the same question: “Why would you even question this story?” In their minds, it was clear that there could be only one reason: because I was trying to somehow salvage Moore’s candidacy.
I get asked this question a lot these days. Why would you even argue about rape statistics, when we know that rape is a problem? Why would you give even a moment’s consideration to those who theorize that global warming could be moderate rather than catastrophic? Why would you raise questions about that terrible gang rape at UVA?
My interlocutors have a point: We all make choices about which assertions we interrogate, and which we accept on easy faith. And because we are biased, we tend to interrogate most ruthlessly the inconvenient claims that stand in the way of something we’d very much like to believe. When someone casts doubt on a politically charged story, it’s not crazy to infer an ulterior ideological motive (even though in this particular case involving my qualms about that Roy Moore mall story, this inference was dead wrong).
But if we are committed to believing only things that are likely to be true, then how much does the motive of a questioner really matter? I’d argue “not much.” Knowing someone’s political commitments tells you that they are likely to accept evidence for some propositions more easily than for others. But it does not tell you that their analysis is wrong.
To the contrary, partisans with an axe to grind are often the people who see what others don’t. The faked Second Amendment scholarship of Michael Bellesiles, the forgeries that suggested Bush had gone AWOL during Vietnam, the imaginary gang rape at a UVA fraternity — in all cases, the people who raised questions were dismissed as cranks and partisans, and often this was actually true. And yet, they were the ones seeing clearly, while the people questioning their motives were not.
Truth is powerful stuff; it can be bottled up for just so long before it bursts its container and splatters all over the place. And when that happens, the revelation of the lie hurts the credibility of everyone who embraced it — and harms the very cause they thought they were helping.
So instead of labeling folks as partisan and dismissing their questions, we should embrace a tough critique regardless of its source. You have your blind spots, just like they have theirs. By overlaying their world view onto yours, you may be able to get a fuller picture. You’ll get closer to the truth by listening to people who see the world very differently from you, especially the ones who ask questions that make you uncomfortable. If what you believe is true, their objections can only refine your ideas into something stronger. And if what you believe is false — well, it’s better to find out quick.