Next to the propagation of the big lie, one of the most elementary and common devices in manufacturing propaganda is the notion that the truth is something you are not being told.
From conspiracy theorists to those selling patent medicine on the Internet, everyone who whispers the words “secret” and “mystery” is using this device.
But what happens when you already know you’re not being told the truth? The psychological impact is that much greater. Your normal inclination to be taken in by conspiracy theorists is all the more heightened when you know you are not being told the truth.
That is what President Obama and Attorney General Lynch achieved in their clumsy and stupid attempt to redact the transcripts of Islamic terrorist Omar Mateen’s phone calls to 911 as he shot up a gay nightclub in Orlando. Their bungled attempt to manipulate reality now affirms the role of Islam in the shooting. By attempting to change Mateen’s invocation of “Allah” to “God” and redacting entirely his swearing of allegiance to ISIS, the Obama administration has created the opposite of what it intended.
Any doubts that this shooting was inspired by Islam have now been vitiated. In addition, conspiracy theorists have found in the administration’s inept handling of Mateen’s 911 calls new sustenance for their own cherished conspiracy.
When the absurdity of the editing by Obama’s “most open administration in American history” hit the news, public outrage forced the administration to relent, especially since the tapes’ contents in the age of social media were no secret.
At some point, the administration realized the obvious. The censorship did precisely the opposite of what was intended, reminding those of my generation that the quickest way to produce a best seller was to get it banned somewhere. Henry Miller, who might never have been read beyond the well-educated and sophisticated, found a whole new audience created by censorship.
Omar Mateen was a devout Muslim. Islam prescribes not just the killing of gays but killing them in some grotesque fashion. Of the countries in the world where homosexuality is punishable by death, all but Nigeria are Muslim, and in Nigeria the death penalty is part of the Sharia law of Muslim areas.
Omar Mateen could have embraced the tolerance of the America of his birth or the intolerance of the culture that socialized him. He chose the latter. And in an Islamophilic administration, that fact had to be hidden, just as it had to be hidden at Fort Hood, at the Boston Marathon, and more grotesquely in any discussion of the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11.
The more the administration engages in that kind of deceit, the more likely we are to believe that the truth is what we are not being told. Such attitudes do not bode well for the functioning of a democracy where legitimacy is the prime value in sustaining the people’s commitment to the government. The hubris of this administration undermines that commitment.
The administration might believe that those who control the language control the definition of the situation. But in the age of social media, the language is beyond the control of bureaucrats or their sycophants in the mainstream media.
We are all aware that Omar Mateen killed in the name of Allah, not God, and pledged allegiance to ISIS. Dismissing this only heightens our conviction of this reality.
On the same day, a committee of the Department of Homeland Security decided that the words “jihad” and “radical Islam” only separate us into “us” and “them.” I guess in World War II, the words “Allies” and “Nazis” performed the same function, and we are eternally grateful that they did.