I just finished Sharyl Attkisson’s book, “The Smear:How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote.” It is one of a dozen books I have been reading (both liberal and conservative) which detail—as I see it—a conflict between a revived nationalism, America first, and a globally recognized socialism.
“The Smear” is a major, organized effort to control the narrative in the media or the public’s consciousness to marginalize any person or group interested in nationalism. The narrative or meme is an ideology that, allegedly, addresses more effectively global social and economic concerns.
Nationalism, distinct from globalism, is not a world-wide interest but one that puts country first. Anyone of any importance who tends toward a more patriotic nationalism may find themselves in the crosshairs of smear techniques designed to discredit and marginalize them, and eventually, politically silence them. (Even raising this issue as a legitimate discussion in a public forum must be discouraged because this would give the average citizen an intelligent voice which itself is the ultimate right of a free and democratic nationalism.) Smearing in this context is pushing socialism on an unwary public, slowly converting the way they think to accept it.
Some have become professional in reputation defamation and character assassination. This is the stuff conspiracy theories are made of. There is an ongoing fierce battle politically and socially, using the media, and perhaps, weaponizing intelligence and other government agencies to capture the minds of the masses. We might be asked eventually by our vote to relinquish any further serious need for that vote!
I didn’t see it until reading a few more books written by a few journalists and economists, smart people, who documented their works, that Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Social media, and many multi-billion dollar businesses are globalists in this sense. They appear altruistic but the real truth is that their wealth is tied up in offshore tax-free accounts and a global market that promises to make them wealthier. Much of their investments is in other countries.
As we promote the worthy social vision of “equalitarianism,” raising the social and economic status of the poor around the world, pouring in billions of free U.S. dollars, companies, formerly part of a U.S. economy, are leaving our shores for distant ones to get richer. Nationalism which favors one’s own country and a democracy built on free enterprise—not socialism—promotes an ideology counter intuitive to these more global corporate interests.
“And what does this have to do with the Bible and Christianity?” You ask, knowing that I eventually would go there. Isn’t the Bible in favor of helping the poor out of their poverty? It says of the earliest form of Christian benevolence, “They had all things in common.” [Acts 2:44-45]. In fact, I endorse the Biblical approach to meeting the needs of the poor—even if equalitarianism might be a pipe dream. I maintain that the benefits and blessings of Christ (material and spiritual) recognize no race, gender, or any other artificial human categorization or status. [Galatians 3:28] I am more a socialist in tone according to some of the liberals I have worked beside over the years. And yet Christianity stands to be “smeared” for two reasons:
- One, as with the early church, we want a free choice to give [Acts 5:4], which is a democratic idea—not have our resources taken from us by a government that purports to care about the poor without a trustworthy track record of caring.
- And secondly, and more importantly, democracy and christianity share a common sense of freedom: democracy from tyranny and christianity from sin. The link between blind justice and grace should not be overlooked. As the late President Reagan reminded us in His “Last Best Hope” speech:
“Freedom prospers only where the blessings of God are avidly sought and humbly accepted. The American experiment in democracy rests on this insight…. …this experiment in liberty, this last best hope of man…” – President Reagan
“Smearing” is a carefully calculated form of lying, using propaganda and misinformation to educate thinking people in accepting false premises and conclusions designed to discredit, trivialize, and ultimately disenfranchise someone. It is the ultimate way of winning an argument on the public stage. That “stage” might be the church. The ideology in question might be a church vision or a corporate goal or a doctrinal inquiry over issues not clarified in the congregation’s consciousness. It might condense down to a disagreement between a pastor and a board member which the parishioners get light of and through gossip channels and secret meetings a good christian is ostracized. They no longer have the sense of fellowship that initially drew them to this church. They have been smeared.
Smearing is a another word for “the lie.” Smearing someone we oppose either because of their politics or because we don’t subscribe to their religious tenets—or for any other reason—is only possible because we have become expert at hyperbole and deception—at lying. We know how to lie and by mere repetition have it eventually sound truthful. Regarding those we oppose, unless they are the devil incarnate, if they are impassioned about their ideology or faith, there has to be even a little truth in what they are promoting—even if we contend that most of it is gobbledygook. Incidentally, they feel the same way about us!
Simple and unbiased truth, then, is the smear-a-cide that kills the lie. But who is unbiased!?
Without wanting to document it here (too dark), I observe in reading and writing that there is available a plethora of terms to describe “the lie,” disparaging or derogatory remarks. [James 3:6] It is easier to express hate than love almost as if it were a more natural and spontaneous expression of the self. For a christian, it takes a Christlikeness or a closeness to the Spirit to avoid this pitfall [Galatians 5:22-23]—and that is not “a given” in today’s politically charged world.
The Scripture delineates the lie as a list of verbiage: shaming, putting another down, belittling, insulting, slandering, blurting out misplaced sarcasm, condemning, speaking evil of someone, projecting blame, [whew!] accusing (which is Satan’s job), humiliating, using abusive language. Some of these terms, though, seem mild compared to their modern counterparts. We have, as a civilized people gotten quite good at being verbally hurtful—even without expletives. Some christians, even in democracies, are beginning to wonder where this is going. Are we close to our Lord’s return?
According to the prophet Zephaniah [Zephaniah 1:12] there are those who think, ‘The LORD will do nothing, either good or bad’” about such abuse. “God is not involved,” they [atheists, and deists among others.] say, “neither will He get involved.” They imagine that He does not see any need to interfere or intervene in the affairs of this life. They “neither seek the Lord nor inquire of him.” [Zephaniah 1:6]
Ah, but wait! The burden of the prophet is to warn a world of hurting people how untrue this supposition is. Consider what Jesus concluded:
Blessed are you when people defame you, hunt you down and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. – Jesus. [Matthew 5:11]
God may seem not to care much about political races. I get that. Partisanship engenders intense levels of passion and has divided our nation, but there is a line we dare not cross if we don’t want Him involved. If a believer is thrown into the furnace prepared—in a sense—seven times hotter by the connivances of hatefulness and embittered feelings, we need not be surprised seeing another in there with them likened to the “Son of God.” (I trust you understand the reference: Daniel 3:24-25) There are some whose hubris cannot understand this providential aspect of a caring God. [Zechariah 2:8; 8:17; 1 Peter 5:5]
Ultimately and most assuredly we can hope for and anticipate Zephaniah’s encouraging prophecy. [Zephaniah 3:13] He reassures those who trust in the Lord that a time is coming when in God’s kingdom (under His government), they “…will do no wrong [injustice and lawlessness].”
…and then the prophet prophesied, “they will tell no lies.”
Propaganda, misinformation, false reports, character assassinations, smears, and all forms of “the lie” purged from all our lips. “A deceitful tongue [false promises and words intended to lure, entrap, sting] will not be found in their mouths.” [Revelation 21:8]