Tuesday, February 08, 2005

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Truth and Politics - U.S. Political Doublespeak

Emet (or Emes) - Truth

...Put the ways of falsehood away from me; and grant me your Torah graciously.
I have chosen the way of truth; your judgments have I laid before me...(Tehillim, Psalms, 119)

How can you tell when a politician is lying? Their lips are moving.

As the Torah tells us outright, in plain language (parshat mishpatim), keep away from falsehood. I'm not writing this today to get into a long discussion of the importance of truth, personally, religiously, in business, and in civil society. I am going to briefly discuss it in public discourse.

It's one thing to present information from my perspective, it's another to twist it to my perspective.

"Truce with the Palestinians!" - "7 Soldiers Killed in Truce Violence" ... wait, wouldn't that be 'truce broken by violence' or 'promises of truce shown to be false by violence'? Truth and reporting from Israel never seem to go together, but that's a topic for a future post (and a past post of mine here on Israpundit).

Yesterday in the U.S. the president presented the 2005 national budget. This budget is considered a tight budget, in that the increases in spend are significantly lower than previous years. Yet every single report, news and opposing politician is "MAJOR BUDGET CUTS THREATEN (insert poor injured needy party here)". To make matters even worse, these are the same politicians that 2 weeks ago were complaining about high budget deficits!

When the whole political dialog has become based on falsehood, and the whole political class is considered entirely self serving, the unsurprising result is a complete loss of faith and respect for all institutions of government and a societal deterieration.

Personally, I consider it frightening to be living in a time of Orwellian doublespeak and doublethink (the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. ... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

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