Check Your Premises
November 16, 2015
The recent Republican debate hosted by CNBC was a real wake-up call for the mostly liberal mainstream press, that perhaps their days of unchallenged bias against Republicans in general and conservatives in particular are coming to an end. It remains to be seen, in light of the latest charges against Dr. Carson, how well the remaining Republican candidates will continue to respond to the media as the enemy that it truly is. In observing recent events, I was led to a fictitious tale I wrote several years ago that reflected a similar frustration with the advantages that progressives have in our modern culture.
It was Martin Luther King Day. A holiday, but not completely. His boss had invited him to an MLK luncheon downtown. All of the town’s movers and shakers, especially the African-American ones, were sure to be there, along with the white mayor and the white governor. Well, that along with the boss will make at least four of us, he thought grimly. Then again, he knew instinctively that the usual political vitriol spewed out at events such as these would be the loudest and most vehement from the white mouths on the speakers list, not the black ones.
The first speaker did not disappoint. Blah blah blah, the usual progressive pap implying that liberals are the only ones enlightened enough to have the smarts, compassion, and political savvy to lead us to the promised land.
He knew this was wrong, and on so many levels. He knew he’d likely lose his job over it, and maybe a lot more. But so many years of hearing this crap unchallenged had momentarily unhinged him. He was in a fog, the fog of war, on an irreversible mission that he had no power from which to retreat.
Striding upon the stage projecting an air of confidence that he didn’t feel, he grabbed the first available microphone.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I need to make a statement.” He waited for the inevitable security thug to approach and remove him. But none was forthcoming—at least not yet.
“Before I start, I’d ask you to check your premises—the ones that you’ve based your lifelong beliefs around. It might occur to you at some point that perhaps some or all of your premises are false, but you won’t admit it—not today, anyway. But it’s about time someone at least tried to set you straight.”
“First, let me say that I honor Martin Luther King Day by remembering the struggle—the real struggle—that black people had attaining something approaching equal rights in this country. Jackie Robinson was one of my heroes growing up, not just because he blazed a trail and took an incredible amount of abuse in doing so. No, what impressed me even more about Jackie Robinson was that he earned every bit of acclaim, money, and fame by dint of hard work as well as great ability. No one gave him anything—he achieved it by his performance. And I believe, although I never met the man, that he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”
“Check your premises. One of the first serious books I read was Black Like Me. Now, I don’t need you or anyone else to tell me that simply reading a book about the mistreatment—indeed the inhumanity toward—an entire race of people is anywhere close to actually experiencing it. But it did give me an appreciation for what black people went through to attain some semblance of true freedom. And when you recognize the gap between how people are treated and the dignity and respect they deserve, whether you want to say because we’re all children of God or simply that we’re all truly equal—that makes prejudice and racism hard to swallow.”
“Check your premises. Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.? I’ve read a lot about the man, and he’s been portrayed in both an incredibly positive and negative light. Couldn’t we reasonably say that, like most great men, the truth is somewhere in between? That although he was a great civil rights leader, he had his flaws as all of us do? And that those who say that he would weep over the way things have unfolded since his death may not be entirely correct? Maybe he favored the wealth redistribution that has undeniably occurred in the last 50 years, for the same reasons most of you are for it—you refuse to believe that it has not only not worked, but in fact it’s failed spectacularly. Then you turn around and say that the only reason it hasn’t worked is that we haven’t spent enough!! Check your premises. Would Jackie Robinson have been satisfied with life in the ghetto, drawing a welfare check, doing drugs and leading a gang? Somehow I don’t think so.”
“And the final premise I’ll talk about before I get yanked off the stage is the most important of all. That is, the false premise that progressivism, or liberalism, whatever you wish to call it, is the force of all that is morally good in the world, and that conservatism, on the other hand, is purely and self-evidently evil. By the power of your emotion that you’ve put into believing this lie to be the truth and persuading enough others to believe it, you’ve driven this country in less than 100 years to the supreme nation on earth to a debt-ridden, morally bankrupt shell of its former self. Don’t give me your spiels on Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush and how horrible they were. Their faults, such as they were, had a lot more to do with their failure to stem the tide of what your side was doing, by not going over your heads to the people to better explain why your ideas were the failed ones, not theirs. You’ve simply been more persuasive than us because you hold all the levers of power—politics, entertainment, education, media—you’ve got them all. And yet you still whine that what you refer to as “tea-baggers”—a prejudicial insult if there ever was one—hold too much sway over people. To keep this closing clean, I’ll just say this. Balderdash.”
“Now, I’ve said my piece and I know it will cost me. But you know what? It was worth it, whatever the cost may be. Think about that, Mr. Governor, the next time you need to pass a controversial bill. Check your premises—and if they’re true, don’t be afraid to point that out.”
So let us hope that the Republican candidates have the courage and wherewithal to continue pointing out the media’s false premises as this campaign shifts into high gear.