Years ago, a left-leaning reporter for a mainstream newspaper grossly exaggerated the crowd at one of her favorite protest rallies. When I pointed out the much lower crowd estimates by police and other sources, she responded with, “facts are the enemy of truth,” words from the mouth of Cervantes’ deranged Don Quijote de la Mancha. If facts are indeed the enemy of truth, President Obama has been on firm ground in recent weeks.
Start with “Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they are defeated by better ideas.” Pity that Abraham Lincoln and his generals didn’t know that before going to war and deciding to emancipate the South’s slaves; hundreds of thousands of American deaths could have been avoided by Lincoln’s statement of his clearly “better ideas.” Pity that the Allies did not know that when confronting Nazi ideology in the 1940s. Russia would have had no need to sacrifice millions of its young men at Stalingrad and elsewhere when a few speeches would have done the trick; America and Britain would have saved the millions spent printing propaganda leaflets, developing the means of their delivery, and dropping them over Germany.
Then there is this presidential stunner. “Innocent people were killed [in Charleston] in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting [sic] their hands on a gun…. We as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” The first sentence led to a renewed presidential call for gun control, never mind that the state of South Carolina already has among the strictest gun control in the nation and that it was a failure in the application of the federal government’s enforcement mechanism that allowed the shooter to get his hands on the gun, as the director of the FBI mournfully reported. Consider instead the spate of reactions to the final sentence, which seems to have escaped an award of any Pinocchios by the Washington Post. David Harsanyi, a nationally syndicated columnist, senior editor at the Federalist and former editor of Human Events asks on his blog, “Parlez vous Hebdo?”, recalling the incident in which gunmen murdered 17 people in all, and injured 22 others in France, certainly an “advanced country”. And reminds his readers that in another advanced country, Norway, a deranged killer murdered eight people with a bomb in Oslo, and went on to mow down 69 more, mostly children, at a summer camp.
Kyle Becker, senior managing editor at Independent Journal Review, tabulates “rampage shooting fatalities” per one million population. According to the data he publishes, the U.S. ranks eight among OECD rich developed countries, behind such advanced countries as Norway, Finland, Slovakia and Switzerland. Throw in places such as China and Russia where the state is the shooter (or assassin) and victims include both (numbers not admitted nor reported) citizens and foreigners, and such paragons of domestic tranquility as Rwanda, and we move further down the list. And we don’t need a statistical agency to tell us that we rank in afflicted violence far below the newest state, ISIL, its opponents denied by Obama the wherewithal to resist them, presumably because we have not yet printed enough copies of our “better idea” with which to defeat them. Oh, and this past weekend marked the twentieth anniversary of the slaughter of 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys, presumably under the protection the UN, which includes many “advanced states” among its members, by Bosnian Serbs.
Obama has never believed in American exceptionalism, not really. “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks in Greek exceptionalism," is his ecumenical position. The exception to this lack of exceptionalism is our exceptional tolerance of mass slaughter. Such is out President’s “truth” in defiance of “facts."