The Vanishing Jewish Passion for Truth

Someone on Facebook recently directed people to website promoting a theory that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee during Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.

To be precise, a rightwing website called Star Political jumped on a Fox News segment with Ryan Lovelace, author of “Search and Destroy: Inside the Campaign Against Brett Kavanaugh.”

Lovelace bases his accusation against Dr. Ford on a video in which Debra Katz, Ford’s attorney, describes how important Roe v. Wade is to her client.

From the video with Katz, Lovelace concluded that Dr. Ford’s support of abortion rights was a sufficient motive to turn her personal and professional worlds upside down by committing the serious crime of lying to Congress.

Fox News jumped on the story and had Lovelace on its morning show.

Note that Katz never even implied that her client lied. Katz described what it took to get a woman with a wonderful private life to come forward and risk it all. Lovelace deconstructed this and re-assembled it into an admission that Ford lied.

Even though this theory makes no sense whatsoever, in an age in which people clutch opinions unfettered by logic or evidence, people now believe this.  This sort of willful ignorance is always cringeworthy.

And the willful ignorance leading people to embrace such illogical stories is spreading among Jews. Frankly, it’s beginning to creep me out.

Until recently, we Jews had always been the smart ones, the informed ones, honest to a fault, and more than any people on the planet, the ones who know what we’re talking about. For whatever flaws we’ve had as a people, lack of devotion to אֶמֶת has never been one of them, until now.

Now too many of us are behaving like intellectual sheep, just passing on what someone tells us.  Too many of us are locking onto opinions before having all the facts to justify them. Once that happens informed opinion becomes impossible.

Even worse, in this day and age, when one can find out any fact about any subject at any time of the day in a matter of seconds, there’s no excuse for not knowing all the facts.

Part of the problem is that political culture itself is a “cult of personality” [Thank you Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev for that immortal term!] that metastasized with the birth of the internet. This resulted in a complete fixation on politicians rather than on issues.

That’s why some people are virtually addicted to Donald Trump, and so oblivious to the comportment and values that have defined his entire adult life.

I’m not assailing anyone for supporting or opposing a particular politician per se.

However, the political cult of personality is flim-flam. It’s noise that’s drowning out serious discourse. It’s making people ignorant of the issues instead of providing information. And those who stoke these political personality cults rather than putting the issues front and center are making you and themselves stupider.

And what happens when a cult of personality becomes cancerous? A democratic nation might just elect the most corrupt, immoral, destructive, incompetent, disloyal emotionally arrested leader it ever had. Or it could allow a mysogynist on the United States Supreme Court.

Look at all that you post on Facebook about politics. What do you post, and why.

Are you sharing credible information that you verified and served up with all the facts germane to it? Will the reader be more knowledgeable after reading it? Are you entirely honest?

Or are you venting? Are you bending the truth, or outright lying? Are you engaging in character puffery and character assassination? Do you lie by omission, leaving out facts that do not buttress your own bias? Do you engage in an exchange of facts?  Do you try to be insightful or inciteful? Do you stay on topic or go into full ad hominem mode.

If it’s the latter, that’s too bad. But not for Brett Kavanaugh or Christine Blasey Ford.  It’s too bad for us. That’s because she doesn’t matter.  Democrats or Republicans don’t matter either.

The issues matter.  But when one fixates on personalities or party loyalty more than the issues at hand, fully understanding someone like Brett Kavanaugh becomes impossible.

It’s time to stop fixating on personalities and start examining the facts. Fox News won’t help with that. MSNBC talk shows won’t help with that. None of your favorite partisan websites or media demagogues will help with that.  Forget Sean Hannity and Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow and all the other opinion mongers posing as journalists.

Don’t digest other people’s opinions.  Find out all the facts germane to the issue, determine what these facts mean, and then shape an opinion based on what you learned from the first two steps.

If the first two steps aren’t adequate, don’t lock on to an opinion.  Just keep learning and thinking.

Don’t get near step three without first completing steps one and two. This will cause informed objective people to see you in an unflattering intellectual light.

That matters to me, but not because I want to come off as smart. It matters to me because as an old-fashioned Jew, I value אֶמֶת above all, and I never want to mislead anyone.

About the Author
Mark Ira Kaufman majored in physics. He later worked as a studio musician for many years before turning to writing. He has been published in The Plain Dealer, The Beacon Journal, The Jerusalem Post, and Midstream Magazine. He also was writer and editor of The Mark Ira Kaufman Journal.
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