The Hoax-Addicted Left
By: Daniel Clark
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, January 18, 2006
The latest example of the Left embracing a known hoax as almost as valid as the truth this comes to us from Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-MA, who, in a December 22, 2005, op-ed piece in the Boston Globe, recounted the story of a college student who was rousted by two government agents, because he had gone to the library in search of a copy of Mao Tse Tung's Little Red Book. Two days later, the Globe reported that the student had admitted to fabricating the tale, as any sensible person would have suspected in the first place. While the senator did not respond to this revelation, he did send out his spokeswoman to explain, "even if the assertion was a hoax, it did not detract from Kennedy's broader point that the Bush administration has gone too far in engaging in surveillance."
This, however, was not one errant detail in an otherwise convincing argument. In fact, Kennedy had no broader point. The Little Red Book story was his sole example of government surveillance gone mad, and it was a lie. Moreover, the senator did not even attempt to explain how this fictitious incident was relevant to the NSA's electronic surveillance, the Patriot Act, or any other power the president has used in the War on Terror.
The student had claimed to have been visited by agents from the Department of Homeland Security, which further refuted the story, since DHS doesn't even have agents of its own. Yet a man who was in the Senate at the time that it created that department (Kennedy was one of nine who voted against it) did not even bother to check the veracity of the kid's tall tale before spilling it onto the pages of the Globe.
If this behavior were peculiar to Ted Kennedy, it would be easy to laugh off, as all his words and actions typically are. However, the perpetuation of such wild rumors and hoaxes has long been the standard operating procedure for his colleagues on the Left. For example:
- The 60 Minutes story suggesting that Bush had gone AWOL from the Air National Guard was discredited by bloggers literally overnight, but that didn't stop Democrats from repeating the false charges throughout the remainder of the 2004 campaign. They even used the fraudulent CBS report in a media offensive called "Operation Fortunate Son," almost a week after the incriminating documents obtained by that network were discovered to be forgeries.
- In May of 2002, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, took to the Senate floor armed with a grossly misleading New York Post headline, which read, "BUSH KNEW."
"Bush knew what?" she demanded. She might have directed that question at the Post, whose accompanying article did not back up the sensational charge. Instead, she used the question to suggest that the president had advance knowledge about the 9/11 attacks, and allowed them to happen anyway. Two months later, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-GA, repeated Mrs. Clinton's accusation, and added that "persons close to this administration are poised to make huge profits off America's new war."
Late in 2003, presidential candidate Howard Dean called it "the most interesting theory that I've heard so far" that President Bush "was warned ahead of time by the Saudis." Not only did his fellow Democrats not dismiss him as a crackpot, they would later elect him chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Evasively, Dean added that this was "nothing more than a theory -- it can't be proved." But why not, if it were true? Wouldn't it be likely that some record existed of the Saudis' warning? By writing off that possibility, Dean admitted that his bizarre suggestion was unsupportable, but concluded that an absolute lack of evidence was no reason not to still believe it.
- At a 2002 fundraiser, Sen. Clinton was still questioning the legitimacy of the Bush presidency, by pushing her party's "selected, not elected" line. As she was certainly well aware, the Supreme Court did not "select" the president in the Bush v. Gore decision. All it did was put a stop to the illegal recounts in Florida. Nevertheless, post-election media recounts confirmed for any remaining doubters that Bush was the winner. Even if Al Gore had won his Supreme Court case, he still would have lost the election.
If anyone is aware of this fact, it is Al Gore himself, yet the former vice president took the opportunity of the 2004 convention to repeat the charge that Bush had been "selected" president by the judiciary.
- Of all the Democrats' fabrications regarding the 2000 election, probably the most outrageous was the accusation that Republicans had "disenfranchised" black voters in Florida. Hearings at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights failed to produce a single person who had been eligible to vote, and been denied the opportunity. Undeterred by the absence of evidence, the Democrats on the commission, led by Mary Frances Berry, released a report concluding that "widespread voter disenfranchisement" had taken place anyway.
During the 2004 election campaign, Sen. John Kerry repeatedly stated that a million black voters had been disenfranchised in Florida in the previous election. If that were true, one would have expected to see a million angry victims marching on Tallahassee. Their absence from the streets, like their absence from the commission's hearings, didn't faze Kerry or his fellow Democrats one bit.
- Since Democrats have a particular fondness for racially provocative hoaxes, we can expect that they'll soon recycle the fallacy that black Americans' voting rights are in danger of being repealed in 2007.
The Voting Rights Act, which comes up for review next year, is certain to be renewed; President Bush has already said he intends to sign it. That law was meant as a temporary measure, to address specific abuses that were being committed by Southern Democrats, such as poll taxes and phony literacy tests. It does not establish black people's voting rights. The legislation which did that was the Fifteenth Amendment, and it cannot be repealed other than through passage of another constitutional amendment.
One would expect a former United States senator and presidential candidate to understand this, especially if he markets himself as the nation's leading distributor of racially sensitivity, as Bill Bradley did. In his 2000 Apollo Theater debate with Gore, however, Bradley said, "It is very important to make the Voting Rights Act permanent so that the right to vote will never be endangered for African-Americans." Not only did this statement misrepresent the relevant legislation, but it also fantasized that there were Republican bogeymen hatching a nefarious plot to disenfranchise black voters.
- With the help of CBS News and MTV's "Rock the Vote," Sen. Kerry tried to frighten young voters during last year's campaign by claiming that President Bush had a secret plan to institute a draft. Even after Bush forcefully rejected the idea during a debate, Kerry persisted with his accusation, despite his lacking a shred of proof.
- Mind you, that's the same John Kerry who, when he returned from Vietnam, participated in the phony "Winter Soldier Investigation," where many of the witnesses who testified about American war atrocities turned out to be impostors. Kerry himself recounted their fictitious testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971, charging that American soldiers "had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam."
When confronted with these words during the 2004 campaign, Kerry only conceded that his language might have been "a little bit over the top." To this day, he refuses to admit to having no knowledge that the events he described ever happened.
- And let's not forget Mrs. Clinton's "vast right-wing conspiracy," which she blamed for the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Her husband debunked this theory in a televised address, in which he said that his involvement with Lewinsky "constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part, for which I am solely and completely responsible," and that "I misled people, including even my wife." Like the rest of America, Hillary Clinton heard this right from the horse's mouth, but she never retracted her conspiracy theory.
The purpose of these citations is not to suggest that leftists are engaged in a conspiracy to spread hoaxes and promote screwball theories, because they don't need to be. Their belief in the unbelievable comes to them naturally. If it didn't, they wouldn't be leftists.
These are people for whom Marxism has still not been sufficiently discredited. They still believe that American military strength invites enemy attacks, but disarmament and appeasement bring peace. They find it obvious that global warming causes snowstorms and record low temperatures, but they still haven't seen enough evidence to persuade them that human beings exist before birth.
When the truth repeatedly contradicts someone's beliefs, that person has three options: change his mind and accept the truth, reject the truth (consciously becoming a liar), or deny the objectivity of truth and perceive it as a social construct. In the last, whoever prevails determines factuality and truthfulness.
The Left has opted for the last of these choices. This means they can say practically anything they want, and it will become the truth just as long as their bloggers and rapid-response teams carry the day. In this way, they relieve themselves of the burden of scrutinizing their own statements. They can say with total confidence, for example, that the poor get poorer as the rich get richer, without letting all those inconvenient facts and statistics get in the way.
By this redefinition of truth, a hoax is just an idea that may or may not grow into a true story, depending on the success of the teller. This means that as long as a story is being told, it stands a chance of becoming the truth. Thus, Sen. Kennedy stands by his Globe editorial; Dan Rather and Mary Mapes stand by their "60 Minutes" report; John Kerry stands by his hallucinations; and Hillary Clinton stands by her man.
It's not enough for them to believe their own baloney, though. They've got to convince a significant number of others. Their whole point in spinning these tales is to win political power. It does not behoove them to perpetrate a hoax so silly that almost nobody will buy it.
It may be too late for that. As the Left continues to get carried away in that direction, it is severing what few ties still connect left-wingers to the real world, setting themselves adrift in a sad, shrinking little world of their own.
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