In his 1925 book, “Mein Kampf,” Adolph Hitler explained what he famously called “the big lie.” He said that if you tell a lie that’s big enough, people will believe it, because they have trouble believing someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” Even though he wrote 86 years ago, that’s the heart of the playbook of modern politics.
The latest example is an attack launched by some progressive left liberal sites on Rick Perry. Nobody could accuse me of being a Perry sympathizer, but I’m a big fan of the truth. The accusation from PoliticusUSA and DailyKos is nothing but the Big Lie. Here’s the lede on the DailyKos story:
“It seems that the GOP’s present white savior, Rick Perry, has a BIG porno problem. Back in 1995, when his bouffant hairdo was barely all the rage, Rick Perry invested thousands of dollars into Movie Gallery, Inc, a porn distributor company. It was the largest distributor of porn movies, and was even opposed by the conservative American Family Association….”
That sounds pretty dramatic and clear-cut. It would be pretty hypocritical of conservative Christian-talking Perry, wouldn’t it? The problem is that it’s misleading at best. Movie Gallery wasn’t a “porn distributor company.” It was a huge Alabama-based company that became the second largest movie rental chain in the country. It was Blockbuster‘s biggest competitor, back when movie rental chains still mattered.
Rick Perry seems to have been an early investor in Movie Gallery, which — like every video chain — had a small “red light district” with soft core porn that seemed to rent to men in overcoats and dark glasses when nobody was paying attention. Social conservative groups such as the American Family Association had tried to pressure all of the rental chains into dropping their skin flicks, but nothing ever came of it.
If you read the comments under the two articles that I linked earlier, you’ll find that the vast majority of commenters are blind to the facts, even though a couple of scattered people point out the truth. Here’s the sick and twisted truth about human nature that we don’t want to realize: People are much more interested in accepting something that supports what they already believe than in finding out the truth.
No party has a monopoly on this, because it seems to be human nature. It’s the same utter disregard for the facts that led the producers of this anti-Obama video to claim — despite their disclaimer — that Obama had “admitted” being Muslim and for others to produce dishonest images such as the one at right. It’s the same dishonesty that leads desperate liars and fools to make similar claims in every election and political contest.
I’m not really here to defend Rick Perry against charges about porn. Instead, I’m just asking for honesty and decency. I’m asking that we all examine the things we’re saying and ask ourselves whether we’re being fair and honest. In the heat of a battle, it’s easy to believe that destroying your opponent matters more than the truth, but that’s not the case. The opponent will be gone. You’ll move on. But the lies you tell will live on inside of you — and slowly corrode your character.
Some of your enemies are going to lie — about the people you support and even about you. Some of your allies are going to do the same thing. Treat them both with the same standard. Make it clear to both of them that truth and character are more important than any particular dispute.
More than anything, though, hold yourself to a higher standard. In the end, you’ll feel cleaner and you’ll know that you have continued to improve yourself while others slid down into the abyss of lies. It’s worth it.