"There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to accept what is true," wrote Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher and theologian (1813-1855). His two ways to be fooled accurately describe our citizens' dilemma as they grapple with news of the Capitol breach by fringe ideologues, allegedly disciples of President Donald Trump.
We depend on our news media to report the truth. However, they often do not, and it has never been more obvious than the hateful and one-sided reporting during the last four years of the Trump administration.
Given so many false narratives, and so many truths suppressed, it is understandable that many Americans believe what is not true. They are among Kierkegarrd's "fooled." Those people are generally in the left-leaning element of American society - idealistic young people, many journalists, academic elites, socialists, Marxists, Utopians who never grew up, and those who believe this country is so fundamentally flawed it cannot be salvaged.
The second part of Kierkegarrd's statement is also applicable. People are fooled by not believing what is true. Count me and most conservatives as sailing on that ship. If you lie to us over and over, then tell us the truth, we are not likely to believe you, even if it is true. We, also, are often fooled by the biased media.
The chasm between the two sides is widening. Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook appeased their allies in the media and Democratic Party this week by pulling the plug on Parler, an app favored by conservatives who felt they were discriminated against by other platforms. It is a blatant move to silence those with whom they disagree.
Sen. Marco Rubio summed up the power of these media moguls, "We now live in a country where four or five companies, unelected, unaccountable, have the monopoly power to decide we're gonna wipe people out, we're going to erase them from any digital platform."
Many large American businesses are also jumping on the left's bandwagon, obviously hoping to find favoritism among the left's new political power. This week Marriott, BlueCross BlueShield, AT&T, UPS, Citigroup, Microsoft, American Airlines and other corporations pulled PAC monies providing donations to any Republican (there were six) who voted against approval of the certification of Joe Biden's electoral win. Money speaks.
They were right to vote against certification. Many Americans are skeptical of the election results. The media keeps repeating, "There was no fraud. Go away, folks. Nothing to see here." Suppression of legitimate concern by 74 million Trump voters is fuel to a fire that is burning out of control.
The attempts to suppress truth has left many Americans, like the thousands who traveled to hear President Trump last week, seething. They think they have no voice in their government. Still, many patriotic and law-abiding citizens at the rally dispersed peacefully after the president's usual bombastic remarks. Those thousands were ignored by the media, while the fringe groups, mostly identified by their bizarre dress, combat gear and aggressive behavior engaged in civil disobedience before a shocked American public. Those people, whoever they are, must be held accountable.
As the chasm between left and right grows, and if the bias in the media continues, the hyper-charged fringe right we saw last week in Washington could become the mainstream right. If that happens, our republic, the greatest government among free people in history, will cease to exist.
How shall we react? I offer an adaptation of an old prayer: "God give me the wisdom to learn the truth and give me the courage to act when I discover it."
Roger Smith, a local author, is a frequent contributor to the Times Free Press.