Archives For fake news

One of the first rules about giving is not parading it for all the world to see.

There’s a difference between me sharing with someone that my family and I have financially supported Compassion Australia for nearly two decades, and me boasting about how much money we’ve given to them.

Unless those asking are the tax office, it should be enough to simply state the fact about our giving, without having to prove it with subtotal, decimal, and dollar sign.

For the sake acknowledging it. The exceptions here are small businesses and corporations. Transparency exists for tax purposes. Accountability on giving to charity from a corporate income is as much for shareholders as it is for tax payers, re: the appropriate governing bodies.

Giving from personal income operates by a similar accountability structure, but has a different set of rules when it comes to freedom of information. Anonymity is to be applauded and protected. It’s none of anyone else’s business how much an individual gives from their own personal income.

There’s also a difference between a foundation, set up in a person’s name, giving to charities, and donating money to charities from that person’s own finances.

Businesses never refer to a product, or cash given out to meet a charitable need, as having been given out by the CEO, or his family. They correctly state that the business donated them.

The foundation has to be transparent; the individual doesn’t. He, or she, can remain anonymous.

As Jesus emphasized twice in His criticism of hypocrites posturing righteousness in public for all to see: ‘when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others…when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.’ (Matthew 6:3-4, ESV)

This criterion makes the morbid quest to squeeze Trump’s wallet for information that could discredit his presidency, all the more lopsided and vindictive.

As The New Yorker’s, John Cassidy made more than clear in his 2016 piece on ‘Trump & the Truth: His Charitable Giving.’ Cassidy’s piece reached hard for the fraud card, up to criticizing Trump for where, when, and how much, Trump was donating of his own money to charity.

Forbes, in a convoluted attempt at the same game, insinuated that then Presidential candidate – whom they estimated to be worth ‘$3.5 billion’ – put revenue before helping ‘kids with cancer.’

Forbes accused Trump of having ‘paid their businesses with charity money.’ Speculating that money changing hands, ‘had more in common with a drug cartel’s money-laundering operation than a charity’s best-practices textbook.’

In short, Forbes acknowledges that the Trump family gives to charity, but isn’t happy about the amount they give, where, or how they do it.

Outlining how Trump’s charities allegedly paid Trump organizations for services rendered. Forbes questions the legal and ethical aspects of Trump Charity organizations, but ultimately feeds into the now far too common dissonance of “hate Trump, because love trumps hate”.

Worth noting. Forbes lists this article as one of their “best pieces of the decade.”

Most recently, Phillip Hackeney penned a piece published by NBCNEWS, responding to news about a Nov. 2019 court ruling by Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the N.Y. Supreme Court, ordering that Trump to pay $2 million in restitution for alleged misuse of Trump foundation funds.

The ruling was based on arguments presented by N.Y. Attorney General Barbara Underwood (who’d boasted about the ruling on Twitter), alleging that the Trump family ‘”illegally” used Trump foundation to further Trump’s political interests.’

The Trump’s responded by noting that all the funds collected were eventually donated to the designated charities – something Judge Scarpulla acknowledged (NBC).

Nevertheless, the Trump family were ordered to pay the $2 million to three charities, presumably pre-chosen by the prosecuting Attorney General.

It was a political win against the President, not an ethical one.

Facebook’s “independent” fact-checkers are doing the same. Flagging posts about Trump’s giving as “missing context” isn’t out of a concern for ethics, or even charities, it’s about partisan political gain.

Snopes rated the above facts as “unproven”, even though they have video of Trump stating: “well, I have a lot of men down here, right now. We have over 100 and we have about 125 coming. So we’ll have a couple of hundred people down here. And they are very brave and what they’re doing is amazing. And we’ll be involved in some form in helping to reconstruct.”

USA Today claims they’re false, and the NY Times (predictably) doubts it.

My criticism isn’t about the attempt to keep Trump accountable for claims he makes about charitable giving. It’s the motive behind the “fact checking”.

By tone, it’s easy enough to discern how the real motivation isn’t to help charitable organizations. The motivation is to sink Trump.

Should said “fact checking” take down someone they don’t like, and win them a Pulitzer in the process? Well, hey, “it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.”

It’s rich for any journalist to accuse a family of being ‘vainglorious’. Only to then go looking for glory in a financial shake down of the Trump family’s charitable works.

Had Trump not been running for President, and had there been no potential personal benefit involved, it’s unlikely many in the Leftist dominated mainstream media would even care.

Have the New York Attorney General and others, chased how the $2 million ripped from the Trumps was spent by court designated charities, with the same vigor? 

Have they looked into George Soros’ or the Clinton Foundation’s financial reach in the world of politics with the same scrutiny?

If I were in a diplomatic mood, I’d roll out the uber-understanding-wagon, layer on some sugar-coating, then dismiss the morbid quest to turn Trump into Scrooge, as a true-hearted selfless act of benevolence.

The truth is it isn’t. 2016 was an election year. As is 2020.

These are never-Trump self-serving gestures. Fueled by self-aggrandizement, and tinged with the flare of agitation propaganda, written for a rabid, radicalized mob who’s view of the Trump presidency only comes from the lens that’s been prescribed for them.

I doubt that even if Trump were to give away his entire fortune, those dragging him down, in order to raise themselves up, would find any benevolence in it.

Outbidding wars have their place in charitable auctions.

Outbidding wars over who is the greatest of givers has no place in politics.

For ‘each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor.9:6-7, ESV).


First published on Caldron Pool, 22nd September 2020.

Photo by Photoholgic on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2020

Covington student, Nicholas Sandermann’s $250 million defamation case against The Washington Post was dismissed late last month, after a federal judge ruled that the Washington Post hadn’t slandered Sandermann in its reporting of the infamous, so-called “standoff” between himself and Native American, Nathan Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Saurabh Sharma of the Dailycaller said, the ‘judge threw out the case’ saying that The Washtington Post didn’t defame the Covington students, but were irresponsible with their use of ‘’loose, figurative,’’ and ‘’rhetorcial hyperbole”. [i]

This is despite The Washington Post, along with some Twitter users and others within the mainstream media, using short viral video clips of the event, to portray the MAGA hat wearing school kids as racists.

Rollingstone, while acknowledging that the incident seemed to have been provoked by members of the Black Israelite movement, were also quick to draw the racist narrative around the Covington School students, stating, ‘the video is a disturbing and eerie echo of angry white mobs yelling at Black Americans for protesting Jim Crow-era discrimination.’ [ii]

While Buzzfeed managed to steer around defaming the students, it’s obvious that Buzzfeed reporters shared similar conclusions. By using viral video clips from the event, they upheld the presumption of guilt, by inferring that racist claims made against the Catholic students we legitimate.

The initial Buzzfeed article made specific mention of the student’s ethnicity, pointing out that ‘nearly all were white and wearing pro-Trump gear, chanting at and mocking Native American, Nation Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.’[iii]

Buzzfeed also appear to have supported interpretations drawn from one of the videos of the students, which claimed that Sandermann was ‘smirking’ in a “racist way” at Phillips, who was branded a peacemaker during the incident. Like many in the mainstream media, this was apparently enough proof for Buzzfeed to spread the newspeak narrative of white privilege, hate, oppression and racism: the Covington students were white, Christian, and Trump supporters, ergo they must also be racists.

Buzzfeed updated their original piece with a link to a video which shows ‘more context’, admitting that the incident ‘was more confusing than the viral clips made it seem’. Buzzfeed also reported that ‘teen’s family will be appealing the decision to dismiss the case, with one of the family’s lawyers saying, “the law must protect innocent minors targeted by journalists publishing click bait sensationalized news.”

The Washington Post, like many of the Left’s leaders on Twitter, did the equivalent of whipping the crowd up into a frenzy, handing them a lynch rope, then when the facts came to light, quietly slipped out the back door. Later to be dismissed from having to take any responsibility because of an appeal to freedom of speech, and literary license.

The case dismissal is good news for The Washington Post. The outcome could also be viewed as good news for the future of freedom of speech.

However, it’s doubtful that the reasons for this “win”, based on an appeal to first amendments rights and literary license, will be allowed as a defense for Pastors and Christian writers when producing literature that criticizes sin from a Biblically Christian perspective.

Especially when their publications involve proclaiming The Gospel in its unique redemptive critique of human sin such as greed, adultery, homosexuality, pride, envy, slander, idolatry – a critique now largely rejected and found “hateful” and “harmful” by the Left, because of its no questions asked embrace of the LGBT religion, Islamism and related regressive, progressive ideologies.


References:

[i] Sharma, S. 2019.  The Washington Post Won Its Case Against The Covington Catholic Kids, But A Federal Judge Had Some Choice Words For The Outlet, Daily Caller, 12th August, 2019

[ii] Wade, P. 2019. Judge Dismisses Covington Student’s Lawsuit Against ‘Washington Post’ RollingStone, 27th July, 2019

[iii] Reinstein, J. & Baer, S.K. 2019.  The MAGA Hat–Wearing Teens Who Taunted A Native American Elder Could Be Expelled Buzzfeed, 19th January, 2019.

Photo by Irina Vinichenko on Unsplash

First published on Caldron Pool, 16th August 2019

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Media reports are confirming what many have speculated over the past week. American actor, Jussue Smollett has been charged with staging the anti-LGBT, race hate attack, which he claimed to be victim of back in January.

As this was breaking, Twitter users were worked up into frenzy over snippets of a John Wayne interview with Playboy magazine in 1971. This resurfacing of Wayne’s, “racist, anti-LGBT remarks”, strangely coincided with the breaking news about Jussie Smollett.

While some of the criticism is defensible, the timing of the “news”, and the “viral” reaction to it, is a convenient red herring.

Why the suspicion?

Wayne’s statements aren’t breaking news. People have known about them for some time. In 2016, ‘The Guardian reported California lawmakers rejected a proposal to create John Wayne Day to mark his birthday after several legislators described statements he made about racial minorities.’ (Fox News)

The Washington Post’s, Eli Rosenberg, makes special mention of Wayne’s statement, “I believe in white supremacy [until African-Americans are educated enough…I don’t feel guilt about slavery]”

Rosenberg also manages to “connect the dots” back to Donald Trump, stating that ‘it’s not the first time in recent memory that the remarks have resurfaced. They also circulated in 2016 after the actor’s daughter, Aissa Wayne, endorsed Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.’ (The LA Times)

Matt Williams, who originally posted Wayne’s comments on Twitter, said “he stumbled upon the interview while doing research”. Given that the interview was no secret to many in the mainstream media, why’d they run with it and give the “news” so much attention?

It would appear that some in the mainstream media saw an opportunity, and used it to shift legitimate focus away from one actor, by further crucifying another.

John Wayne and Jussie Smollett are products of the era they were born into. The difference between those eras was exemplified this week in two ways. First, we learnt about how one actor played the victim, and found it easy to exploit, and profit from playing to a culture of victim-hood. Second, we were reminded of another actor who, made some mistakes, but never sought to blame others for them.

As Ethan Wayne, President of John Wayne Enterprises, said,

“[John Wayne’s beliefs have been misunderstood over the years]. Somebody, a Latina representative up in Sacramento, shot down a bill for John Wayne Day because he was racist. [But] he was married to three Latin women. It’s just crazy how things get blown out of proportion because he was really an open, caring, loyal, supportive man […] He wanted to work with people who earned their place…He didn’t think anybody should get a job because he was a man, because she was a woman, because they were gay, because they were straight, because they were Chinese, African-American or Mexican. He thought you should get a job because you were the right person to do that job. Because you had skill and talent and you would show up and get the job done. He didn’t care what you were.” (Stephanie Nolasco, Fox News)

Adding to his defense, Wayne’s family issued a statement saying,

 “It’s unfair to judge someone on something that was written that he said nearly 50 years ago when the person is no longer here to respond […] “Regardless of color, ethnicity or sexual preference, [our] father taught us to treat all people the same, with respect.”

The outrage towards John Wayne is manufactured. It fits too comfortably within the “all white people are racist” line, and the hysteria drummed up by the very-likely-to-be-proven-fake story surrounding Jussie Smollett’s claims.

Recalling comments made by John Wayne in 1971 have no justification. The timing suggests a smokescreen, designed to shift media attention away from Jussie Smollett. The focus can then be brought back onto blaming Donald Trump, and the supposed racism pandemic sweeping America since Hilary Clinton lost the 2016 election.

If this new focus on John Wayne can be maintained, Smollet and his story will be pushed into the background and left buried.

The MSM can then stand up without concern for context or due process, (as they did with Brett Kavanaugh and the infamous, Covington School boys incident), and say that “racism, and the oppression of those who choose to identify as LGBT, is at pandemic levels in America. John Wayne’s words prove it! Blame Donald Trump. Hashtag:  all white people are racist!”

Not all white people are racist, nor do they believe in Social Darwinian race classifications. What the timing, and outrage, against John Wayne shows, is that the Leftist cult of modern liberalism and its members, need people to believe their lies, and they are willing to do anything, even, and up to, ignoring reality, in order to achieve it.

Long live the legacy of The Duke!


 

We’re walking through Nathaniel & Hans’ Bluedorn‘s 2009 book, ‘The Fallacy Detective‘ for Homeschool at the moment. The Bluedorns do an excellent job of distinguishing  between the various logical fallacies, discussing how they work on and off the page. I’ve even learnt a few things I didn’t know, and gained clarity on a few of the more nuanced fallacies like ad hominem, straw man and equivocation.

The Bluedorns provide an easy to read text. Placing at the end of each chapter well written quizzes with some humour mixed in, they effectively teach a complex subject to their reader.

‘The Fallacy Detective’ was a recommendation from one of our American homeschooling friends and I can see why they were so excited about using it as a resource for lessons in logic and communication. I haven’t finished using this text, but once I am we will be revisiting it and beginning a walk-through of Nathaniel and Hans’ next book, ‘The Thinking Toolbox‘.

In the final chapter of ‘The Fallacy Detective’ the authors hone in on propaganda. The introduction to this section differentiates between propaganda and manipulative propaganda.

Some key points are made, such as,

‘Propaganda is any strategy for spreading our beliefs or ideas…Propaganda is not always bad. There isn’t anything wrong with spreading our ideas and encouraging people to buy our product – as long as we do it honestly’ (p.188).

The definition given for manipulative propaganda is,

‘when someone plays with our emotions in a way designed to make us agree with them without thinking through the matter carefully’ (p.189)

I had a problem with these definitions because they didn’t go deep enough. For instance, someone could easily use this to (falsely) justify the accusation that preaching is propaganda, or worse manipulative propaganda. So when teaching through this part, I added a qualifier. Throwing in the fact that there is a distinction between propaganda and preaching.  Granted the two are sometimes blurred by questionable sermons, poor theology, and stale dogma.

This is sometimes seen in the Charismatic movement, where the emphasis can be more on transaction and performance. By that I mean “naming and claiming something”, “having the [quote] right anointing [unquote], “feeling God’s presence in the band if it played well, and if it didn’t play to standard? Well, God somehow didn’t show up”.

Thus giving the congregation and spectator the guilty feeling that they somehow failed to impress God and are abandoned for not having done so. Jesus had a stinging rebuke for those in the temple, who confused preaching with manipulating others. Knowing the difference between preaching and propaganda, especially manipulative propaganda falls in line with that rebuke.

‘And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.’ (Matthew 21:1, ESV)

There’s a big difference between preaching and manipulating someone in order to get something. Preaching is about proclamation, invitation, empower faith seeking understanding and learning together in humility.

I take my own understanding of preaching, from Jesus and Paul, who together, teach us that preaching, in sum, is about saying “I give this to you, in order to benefit you” (paraphrased). It’s far removed from the sales room floor of crony capitalism, the soap box of Marxists, the auctioneer’s gavel and the manipulative propagandist who, hiding behind all of these platforms, has his and her ultimate aim as being, “what can I take from you to benefit me”. At the heart of this we hear caveat emptor – let the buyer beware; Jesus and Paul telling us to be careful about what is being sold to us, who is doing the selling, and why they are selling it.

Even without the distinction between preaching and propaganda, the final chapter of ‘The Fallacy Detective’ holds itself together. The differentiation between propaganda and manipulative propaganda is followed by a clear description of, why, how, when and where propaganda is used. This includes, among others, car salesmen, lawyers right up to celebrities, artists and politicians.

Again, not all propaganda is bad, but propaganda shouldn’t be accepted without question; my take on this is that caveat emptor becomes: beware the auctioneers.

This differentiation between propaganda and manipulative propaganda gives the authors the opportunity to prepare the reader for the discussion ahead. Every time they use the word propaganda, they mean manipulative propaganda. By only using the word propaganda, the authors ingeniously force the reader to make their own differentiation between the two.

The information video I’m posting below on Marxist manipulative propaganda, circa 1957 illustrates this differentiation and the definitions presented by Nathaniel & Hans’ Bluedorn. There’s some real insight into manipulative propaganda. For instance the video explains how most Marxists/Communists play the information warfare game. Adding to this, is the small presence of American manipulative propaganda, which pops up from time to time, clearly designed to push the Communists back by using their own strategies against them.

For most hardcore Marxists there is no truth, but that which is filtered through the lens of Karl Marx. As the script writers for the video accurately describe:

“America is the major obstacle that stands between the grave-digger [Communist] and its intended victim. Here is target number one for the Reds and who’s in the bulls-eye. You are being in the bulls-eye. It’s important to know something about the enemy’s weapons and how to spoil their aim. That aim is nothing less than world conquest, and subversion by every possible means, is the cheap method used.The keyword is conflict.
Outside of the red countries themselves conflict must be promoted everywhere. Every dissatisfaction must grow into a resentment. Every resentment must become an argument. Every argument must grow into a fight. Every fight must blossom into a riot. Every riot must expand into a war. Every war must end in devastation.Where, there, in the ruins, communism finds its chance. For the Communists there must never be a compromise. Never a settlement of disputes, only conflict.”

If, as the video concludes, the only ‘effective defence against [manipulative] propaganda is the truth’, then the way forward for the aggressor, in any information war, is to attack the truth. The truth is watered down in order to get people to second guess it; smothering the truth in lies, half-truths, and the displacement of absolute truth. On this level truth means that at any stop light, red can be made to mean “go” by any individual who so desires, and no one is liable for the consequences.

This is why one of Roger Scruton’s more tongue in cheek comments in his 1994 work Modern Philosophy carries so much weight:

‘A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ‘merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.’  (pp.5-6)

Worth noting is the date this video was made. With the benefit of hindsight, the information presented shows that those who came before us, were not as ignorant as we are about the dangers posed by Communism and all forms of manipulative propaganda.


References:

Bluedorn, N. & H., 2009 The Fallacy Detective Christian Logic

Scruton, R. 1994 Modern Philosophy Bloomsbury Publishing

Image design: Rod Lampard Photo: Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash