Assume the Lie

I once met an old Marine who served in Okinawa during World War II. He told horrendous stories of machine gun nests opening up every 75 feet, and American GIs tied to stakes and turned into Swiss cheese for the amusement of Japanese soldiers. Picture a dead kid from Kansas with one inch deep bayonet wounds all over his body. As a consequence of this and other horrors, my Marine friend absolutely loved the atom bomb, but like the vast majority of Americans, he didn’t know anything about it until Hiroshima and Nagasaki signaled the end of the war.

Newspapers.com is a marvelous tool for taking the measure of what America is talking about. Consider the following table. It’s a picture of how many times the term “atom bomb” was seen in English language newspapers.

When you ponder how much of the American economy was dedicated to building the bomb, it’s a miracle so many people managed to keep their mouths shut. Obviously, many of them were officially allowed, and sometimes ordered, to lie about the nature of their work—and we’re talking about 130,000 people engaged in the effort. During those years, an extraordinary number of Americans considered it their patriotic duty to lie their way to victory over a cruel and remorseless enemy. The cause was clear. You don’t have any obligation to tell an armed thief that your kinfolk on the second floor have him in their crosshairs.

My point here is that it’s entirely moral, and even Biblical, to engage in deception when the just are fighting against the wicked. We don’t cast our pearls before swine, and we don’t tell the soldiers of Jericho there are Hebrew spies hiding upstairs. The prostitute Rahab may be in need of repentance, but not for lying to the enemies of the Lord.

Obviously, the state has some discretion on this front in the pursuit of justice as well. You wouldn’t expect a law enforcement agency to divulge crime scene details, if those secrets were needed to catch the suspect. Likewise, the government has a broad right to secrecy, and even espionage-style deceit, when national security is truly threatened.

But wicked men, and a wicked generation, can’t be entrusted with good lies. 

The COVID debacle has given me a new perspective on much of modern American history. A candid look at the last 100 years might lead a reasonable person to conclude that official deception is no longer the exception to the rule. It is the rule. You would do well to assume the elites in government and media have either swallowed the lies as truth, or they have been emboldened to tell lies in pursuit of a victory they think you won’t understand.

Examples are legion, but let’s start with a bizarre example retold recently by Jeremy Rys on the “Dark Horse” podcast. When amateur radio operator Paul Bennewitz began studying radio transmissions in a location accidentally too close to an NSA operation at a New Mexico Air Force base, members of our own government gaslit the poor fellow by treating him to fake communications with alien civilizations. As Rys contends, this government-produced disinformation eventually drove Bennewitz to both madness and suicide. If true, you have to ask yourself what “greater good” was being pursued here? Why were we paying civil servants to engage in a hoax? Why did we use the vast resources of the federal government to scare a UFO hunter into the grave?

Rys also discusses “Project Plowshare,” where downstream water testing after underground nuclear explosions required cattle to be sacrificed for thyroid testing. Rather than pay the ranchers for their cattle, the government manufactured an alien abduction story to explain disfigured cattle dropped from helicopters. As official lies go, if this actually happened, it has a distinctly COVID-esque quality. 

With COVID, we were not only asked to be afraid of a virus with an extremely low infection fatality rate, we were asked to do really stupid things to control it: stand on six-foot distance markers, wear masks, give an experimental inoculation to children. With “Plowshares,” ranchers weren’t just asked to sacrifice their cattle.They were required to believe aliens had hauled them up to the mothership with their tractor beams. Once empowered with the ability to deceive, truly wicked people take it one step further: they demand the power to tell lies so outrageous, only idiots would believe them. 

Keeping your job, your church, your cattle, your business means that you dutifully play the part of a fool to please those whose jobs depend on your being imperiled by the next crisis.

We could all talk, at length, about Lyndon Johnson’s military “service” in World War II, Joseph Kennedy’s commitment to election integrity, the Gulf of Tonkin, the Warren Commission, J. Edgar Hoover’s surveillance of Martin Luther King, Jr., and on and on. But I’m much more worried about the moral sleight of hand that makes all of this possible: within the bowels of media and the deep state, someone thinks he knows better

FBI agent Peter Strzok needs an “insurance policy” against a Donald Trump victory, because he deeply believes in a Russian collusion that just isn’t there. The CIA admits officials lied to the Warren Commission, because—hey, they are the CIA entrusted with national security, so they get to lie when they want to, right? It’s for the greater good! Hillary Clinton gets to have her own private email server, because the Clinton Global Initiative is doing some marvelous things, right, and it would be a shame to limit fundraising by subjecting that to all those pesky security protocols, right?

It shouldn’t be a surprise that innocent people are going to jail for the events of January 6, 2021 while Ray Epps faces no consequences for urging people into the capitol. It shouldn’t be a surprise the Centers for Disease Control isn’t really taking vaccine injury very seriously. It shouldn’t be a surprise a former president of the United States is being targeted for nonsensical criminal charges.

Somewhere, someone is manufacturing a “greater good” lie. It’s much easier to do these days. Most of the culprits don’t believe God is watching.

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About James Patrick Riley

James Riley is the owner and operator of Riley's Farm in Oak Glen, California and the creator of "Courage, New Hampshire," a television drama seen on PBS stations across the country. The father of six children, Riley performs "Patrick Henry" and supervises a living history program visited by hundreds of thousands of school children. He holds a degree in history from Stanford University.

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