Inconvenient, Miserable Truth

Recalling that the Media needs division and death to make money, we find a common theme:

The first narrative about an explosive piece of news is usually the wrong one.

…Especially if that narrative fits your expectations.

Worse, the most inciting stories are often outright lies. Violence results. Real people suffer and die because of these lies.

Two examples of this, one or my friends on the right, and one for my friends on the left:

A swarthy lie arose after the election surrounded Dominion voting machines. People made up all sorts of insanity about a plot to steal the election in connection with Venezuela and who knows what else.

Now publishers are having to walk back these miserably baseless claims or face significant financial consequences for defaming Dominion.

Look at these lies!

These pieces rely on discredited sources who have peddled debunked theories about Dominion’s supposed ties to Venezuela, fraud on Dominion’s machines that resulted in massive vote switching or weighted votes, and other claims falsely stating that there is credible evidence that Dominion acted fraudulently.

Dominion has billions of dollars of lawsuits out there right now, and rightly so. There is no evidence — none — that they conspired to steal an election or worked with any foreign government to do so.

This lie was amplified by the President:

People continued to believe these lies despite numerous reports showing their falsity

The Dominion lie was one of dozes (or hundreds, or even thousands) of such lies obfuscating any actual problems with voting and destroying the credibility of the 2020 election results. People became enraged over these lies, the fruit of which we saw in the attack on the Capitol.

My first response to the Jacob Blake shooting was abject horror followed swiftly by anger. The short video clip flying around the internet seemed to show an unarmed man shot in the back at point blank range. The violence seemed senseless.

Now Blake himself is speaking, and the first impression from the original video changes as you hear him speak.

A few notes:

He was an armed man who knew he had a warrant.

The police could not let him leave because of that warrant.

He had been physical and had ignored reasonable orders.

While I do not think he should have been shot in the back, I am not a police officer and I certainly was not there. I do not know all of the codes of conduct that the officers would have understood. I could not do the threat assessment they had to do. More importantly, the video did not tell me anything about what preceded, about a warrant, or about the knife.

People at the time were massively upset. Violence roiled the streets. Significant leaders spoke out:

The Washington Post called him unarmed. Other media perpetuated this lie.

But here’s the thing:

the whole sequence of events here is Blake trying to leave the scene in a car that doesn’t belong to him. Police are called to stop him and they try to arrest him. He fights them off, walks away from them with a knife in hand and seems to be trying to get in the car. It sure looks like he was still trying to leave. And that’s exactly what police thought was happening.

Still struggling on this one? I am too. These are murky waters. Take time to read this whole wikipedia article on the event.

The Dominion facts and the murky waters around the Blake shooting require us to reconsider our snap judgements. Nothing has come of the violence which spilled over Kenosha. The Dominion lies whipped up a vengeful mob and a police officer died at their hands. The only winner was the media whose viewership skyrocketed and the gun salesmen who are quite happy you think the world has gone mad.

I gave in to Blake-related anger, myself. How could I not? I saw a seemingly-unarmed man shot in the back. Another black life was threatened by police violence, another body blow to Black America, which had suffered so many in 2020 that it seemed the thin tendons connecting America to itself would snap for good.

We want to believe these narratives because otherwise we see evil, feel an emotional response, and then experience impotence in our inability to change the world. Nothing makes a soul angrier than knowing we cannot change a thing. Nothing drives us quite as mad as knowing the same evils run through each generation like a song on repeat. Nothing sadder than hanging one’s head in abject defeat.

I raged through the summer while refusing to address the narratives I had formed in my head. I felt the impotence of nothing changing. Not until brothers in Christ confronted me did I realize how much I was spilling my anger out on others. What had I done?

Confronting the Convenient Bad Report

Remember this: the media exists to make a profit, unless it explicitly states otherwise. Even then, non-profit media usually have an angle or goal in mind. The commentators in and editorialists in media companies are the most honest in their approach, but most dishonest in their presentation of the news. They are not there to give you news, but to push you to an outcome. They need you to watch and to act according to their desires. These are the Carlsons, Hannitys, Maddows, and more of the world.

When I hear news meant to anger or move me, or see something that conveniently aligns with my narratives, I ask:

  1. Who wants me to see this?
  2. What does that person/company want from me?
  3. What can I or should I do about this (before anyone else tells me what to do about it)?

And as always, I return back to the Inverse Anger Rule and wonder: should I really be angry?

Pastor, First Alliance Winston-Salem FACWS.org. Board Chair, MonarchNc.org MDiv SEBTS — BA Duke

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